In other eugh news

I was helping Felix with his homework tonight – you know the drill, the sheet with the sight words, the sound words, the theme words, then the extension words.

Felix quietly said, “I need lots of extra help with these”. When I – oh so gently – asked why he needed more help (knowing full well having got our first “please come and talk with me about Felix’s progress” letter from the teacher) he burst into tears, saying all the other kids were doing harder words and more advanced work etc etc etc.

While I had to muster every maternal pregnancy laden muscle in my body to not cry with him, this kind of thing just breaks my heart.

I asked him how it made him feel. He said sad. And worried.

GOD my children might not look like me but I sure know they’re mine.

I told him that while it was really hard, he had to not worry about what everyone else was doing or what level they were on, and just work hard at the level he was on.
I told him that so long as at the end of every day he could answer yes to the two questions: “Did I try my hardest” and “Did I do my best” it didn’t matter one little bit what level he was at compared to anyone else.
I told him that he was loved and treasured and the most special boy in the universe.
I told him his Mum and Dad loved him no matter what and would always be here to help him be the best he could be.
I ended by telling him that when he was a grown-up, no one would ever ask him what level worksheet he worked on in Year 2.

All the while raging on the inside that this kid was judging himself on how well he could spell rather than the fact he can say things to me like, “Don’t worry Mum, we all have tough days and you just have to take it one part at a time.” or “It’s OK to be sad when someone dies, but you don’t have to worry because you won’t forget them, they’ll always be in your heart.”

He is s.i.x. years old. I’m kinda with him at this point thinking that school is really really suckful, and don’t blame him at all for not wanting to go or indeed for saying to me this morning, when asking if he could come into the city tomorrow morning to see the QEII arriving and me replying in the negative because he had school, “but I don’t have to go every day you know.”

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  • Em

    What a sucky situation = except that your son is so lucky to have the best mother – who says the right things and knows what things are truly important in life. I hope I can do the same when the time comes with my daughter (because it will). Ugh.

  • Linda

    Big picture – you have a child who has the gift of empathy. Congratulations, you should be very proud of Felix.

    Small picture – spellcheck! (In all probability Felix’s generation won’t “write” they will use computers – probably voice-activated)

    Parents tend to “get” the big picture while educators have to deal with “the system” – poor bastards.

    For the past 45 years I have been trying to figure out why the Queensland Education System thought it was important that I, as a 7 year old, know how to spell “ornithorhynchus”.

  • Badger

    Oh, dude. This is EXACTLY what we have been going through with the girl child for two years now. And it’s EXACTLY why I’ve been posting all my “school sux!” rants during that time.

    Seriously, I could have written this.

    I’m so sorry Felix is going through this too. They’re going to be okay, right? Because we’re not going to let them NOT be okay, despite the schools’ best efforts to make them feel like shit.

  • Joke

    I’ll second Badger’s comment. Remember, once you realize what truly matters, nothing else does.


  • Anonymous

    Awwwwww! It’s so terribly sad to see your child suffering. You’ve done the right thing to tell him that he has incredible gifts, and that everyone does their learning in their own good time.

    Our schools expect the parents to spend ALOT of time working with the children. It’s already started, and oldest is only in KINDERGARTEN. He brings home homework packets (no time limit, but still!) and we work on them. He mentioned he changed literacy groups, and I asked some generic questions “who’s in your group now?” “Are the readers?” etc trying to elicit if he was upset. Turns out he was just excited to be with new kids! I thought he was feeling badly that the other group (all reading very well) passed him by, but he didn’t notice that! His literacy teachers told the children that they wanted the students to meet new students and have the experience of working in new groups! So at least they are trying to avoid hurt feelings. At least it worked with oldest, so far…

    It’s always going to be something, Kim. Luckily, you seem to already have the knack to hold your emotions in check and just offer some comfort and words of wisdom.

  • Surfing Free

    Oh God! That almost made me cry! When they are toddlers and up, kids think they can do anything …. until someone or lots of someone’s tell them that no, actually they aren’t simply fabulous at everything. And I HATE the way if you aren’t doing what everyone else is doing then you aren’t doing well.

    Parents spend the first five years building up their kids self esteem, and schools and peers seem to spend the next 12 years ripping it down.

    Good luck with Felix! It’s so hard to tell kids that they are who they are, they are an individual and not a clone of everyone else so they have their own unique qualities. Very hard when all they want to be is the same.

  • meggie

    Everyone has the absolute right, to march to their own drum!!

    Sometimes we just have to hope the clamour of shit doesnt drown out the beat.

  • Stomper Girl

    What wonderful advice and support you gave Felix. Good on you. And extra well-done for not breaking down and crying, because I nearly cried just reading about it!

  • Blue Moon Girl

    I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said already. I just know that he sounds like a beautiful, wonderful, amazing boy and I really wish that more people could more like that instead of sucky, mean, competitive people.

    I love your advice to him. And I love his advice for taking bad days one part at a time.

    I want to reach over and give all of you a great big hug.

  • Suse

    That school sucks.

    But you? Are the best.mum.ever. I love what you said to Felix. He chose his mum well.

  • joanne

    I felt so sad for you and Felix after that post – I think I heard your heart cracking a bit – so sad – school is hard, so is being a mum – put them together and yyyaaayyy what fun!!!! What a beautiful Mum you are though by saying just the right thing – I would have just fallen in a heap.

  • Jonathan

    You could always tell him that all those kids who appear smart (and who reach puberty first) are going to be bald by the time they are 25, and look like they are 40 by the time they are 30.

    Some of my friends (and I’m not disparaging them at all) are potentially brilliant – but are also frustrating because they do not exploit their potential.

    I tend to think smart people (of which I do not count myself) don’t tend to work as hard as other people – because they don’t have to.

  • h&b

    You made me tear up.

    What a great mum you are – I love your perspective, your words, and your understanding.

    Your kids are very lucky.