August | 2011

Lesson No. 34: Yes, we can. 

"Too often we underestimate how quickly our feelings are going to change because we underestimate our ability to change them." -David Gilbert

Last night, we were working on (my now 8-year old son) William’s summer homework. We have a fun workbook to keep up on reading and writing skills. It’s usually not a big deal to get him to do it; however, last night was a different story.

We began a new chapter. The words were very challenging for him and he got 8 out of 20 wrong. Frustrated and angry he ripped up his page, drew big X marks over several other pages of his book, and had a crying rant about how he was 'never going to do this workbook again,' he doesn’t care if he gets left back. Etc, etc, etc.

At first I tried to rationalize with him.

But I quickly found myself angry at his reaction and soon we were both pretty escalated.  In the midst of yelling back at him, I suddenly heard my own irrational words. Recognizing that I’ve been here before (more times than I’d like to admit), I took a deep breath and paused.

In my own pause, I was able to see how hungry and tired he looked, and realize how anxious he was about having to ‘learn’ these new words.

I let him continue his rant, but without joining him. As I calmed down, his tirade slowed. I told him to let me know when he was done, then went into the kitchen and prepared some strawberries and grapes for a snack.

His fury quieted down to a last few tears. Then he walked into the kitchen and between small sobs asked, “Mom, can we have a do-over?”

“That would be great,” I answered.  Both of us relieved, we hugged for a few moments. He wiped his face and said…. “ You know I think I’m just really hungry. I will do the rest after I eat. Okay?”