Like teachers, parents start the school year out with high hopes. We want this year to be better than last. We want to chalk the issues and obstacles of last year up to growing pains and watch our kids realize their potential. We want our kids to come home, see the value of education, and attack their homework with a vengeance that shows their commitment and solidifies their understanding of just how important school is. We want them to ignore the Xbox, Facebook, and iPods. We want them to ignore the neighborhood kids playing outside, the reruns on cable, and the goodies in the pantry.
We want them to resist the natural urge to simply relax after a day of sitting in class, hour after hour, trying to pay attention to their teachers when what they really want to do is look at the pretty girl or hot boy on the other side of the room, wonder what their friends are doing after school, wonder if mom can take them to the game this weekend, and if so-and-so even knows they are alive. We want them to resist the urge to be teenagers, or kids, and the resist the need to pay attention to the other parts of their developing lives and just take school seriously.
What I have to realize is that my kids don’t have deep rooted, burning desires to learn as much as they can about ancient civilizations, balance equations until wee hours of the night, or memorize all the elements on the periodic chart. My kids, and I may be going out on a limb here, but I would say most kids, know how important school is. They just don’t know how to mother themselves through the changes going on in their life—especially teenage life. And, because they are kids (even my all-knowing seventeen-year-old) they don’t have the experience and lack the wisdom to understand my urgency.
So in addition to my rules which range from when homework is to be completed and how much time is to spent on social networking/gaming, to how we are going to put all assignments, tests, and engagements on the family calendar, I am also going to build in time to let my kids be kids. I am going to remind myself that they are normal, and that I have given them, and continue to give them, the foundation they need to succeed. I am going to share with them why I get crazy sometimes (like with their decisions to not write in their agendas), but I will also explain to them that it is because I love them so much that I am willing to spend another year playing the villain. You know, the one determined to ruin their lives by insisting that homework gets done correctly, that chores are done as scheduled, and that exercise is in the mix before free time is negotiated.
I wonder what this school year has in store for me!