Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bringing My Son to Life

My son "hates school."

Which means a few things:
  • he hates some of the topics we have to cover in order to get the high school diploma (which he sees as a necessary evil; it makes things easier in our province)
  • he hates some of the work that has to be done; this is particularly true of math which delves into things that he does not enjoy and sees no reasonable reason to be doing such things. "When am I ever going to use this in real life?"
  • he'd rather be watching YouTube videos, playing guitar or playing video games all day long and doesn't like having to be pulled out of that for other activities.
I was reminded lately that the last reason can often be the result of boredom: someone who is bored, who doesn't know what there is to do will turn toward entertainment because it's interesting. Meanwhile, it's like part of them is slowly dying.

This the boy my mother once described as a kid who really enjoys life. He doesn't anymore.

"How are you today?"

"Mm." His body language all day is one of being half-alive.

Me, I end up falling into the, "Omg, there's so much not done and we're running out of time so we need to do more [of all the activities he hates]" and don't help him discovering the more interesting things in life.

Today, I saw that life back in him. What did we do? He started out all blah as usual, upstairs in his room, watching some YouTube video (I was out running errands when he got up). We hadn't gone out to do anything in sometime, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the mall for lunch, then we could stop at the Apple store to pick up a new power cable for the Macbook he's using. Getting him out to the mall just helped liven him up. Visiting the Apple store did even more. Going to Canadian Tire after that (I needed new wiper blades and we looked for a new audio cable for the car), showed a side of him I haven't really been seeing lately. Then we went home and I helped him minimally make chocolate chip cookies and then he got busy covering the power cable with electric tape to protect it from fraying and kitty chewing (grr) and he's just ALIVE. It's so good to see.

I'd had thoughts before Christmas of starting our days with a walk. I didn't implement it. Why not?

Because I stupidly thought that because he wakes up so late, if we take a walk first, we'll have even less time to get work done.

Well, you know what? He is so unhappy about school, he's already not getting much work done. There are things I can do to find different ways to cover what needs to be covered, different activities that we could do together that will accomplish the same things.

What's more important here? To get all this school work done by the end of June and have an unhappy, half (or 3/4)-lifeless teen, or find ways to help him connect with the world around us, get him moving and doing life-filled things? Things can be stretched out to meet the requirements for the diploma. He can take an extra year. He can just accept crummy grades this year. It's not a big deal in the long run compared to raising a young man who know how to live.

So, that's it: my focus is on bringing him back to life. Get him involved more in cooking supper. Going out for walks and skating (we now have a skating rink nearby and he has brand new skates). Reading to him more from books that have nothing to do with school work. Have him think about what he would need to do as an adult to have a balanced, healthy life. Guiding him toward a balanced, healthy life now. I don't need to ban the electronics, just invite him to other things. Yes, still fitting in school work, condensing where possible, getting him WRITING (gah, yes, still an issue), but that's secondary. He needs to be brought back to life. And by golly, I'm going to do what I can to make it happen.

1 comment:

  1. I was very touched by this. Good on you for giving priority to what matters rather than what is expected. I agree: more important in one's teen years than getting good school grades is discovering what one enjoys and how one learns, developing empathy for others, starting to work out ways to live a happy life and make a contribution.