Friday, June 06, 2008

Slacker mom

I was having a lovely Dim Sum lunch yesterday with the girlie and my parents. We hadn't had a visit with them in a little while, so it was nice to have a chat with them about the kids, how they were doing. My parents miss seeing them, now that they've gotten older and there are smaller babies to attend to they don't have as regular visits. I'm sure they're thinking I need to make the effort to get them together more; which will likely be easier in the summer.

We were talking about the end of school coming around, and my mom mentioned that the L-boy thinks he might get an A in math in his report card. I actually heard him telling her over the phone about how well he just did on his multiplication, division and fractions unit. He was very proud of this unit as he had the fewest mistakes of any previous booklet. Mom was pleased, but she did say that when I was in Grade 2 I knew all of my multiplication tables inside and out. Yes, I remember because I was there, and I used to chant them in a trance while walking through the house bored out of my gourd. If I missed something or let up with the chant, I would hear her yelling from the kitchen ..."and what was 6 x 8 again?? Are you sure? I can't hear you!!!!" And my Dad taught me how to do long division that year too.

My parents made it a point to tell me that they thought my boy was very bright; but because he is, he needs to be guided, to help him to be more careful about his work. Then they asked me what I wanted him to be when he grows up ... a doctor? A lawyer? Or maybe the girlie might be better as a lawyer, after all she's pretty stubborn and tenacious.

Hmmmm, expect much? At this point, I just want my kids to enjoy being children, play, enjoy and learn something in school, try a few sports and other activites, and not want for anything. The marks don't mean much to me at this point. As long as he's not struggling and still learning, (he's a solid B+ student ) all is good.

My mom asked me if I would consider putting the boy in tutoring to strengthen his skills. Maybe get him a workbook for Grade 3 now, so that he can work ahead. Now I know this is something that happens A LOT in my boy's school. And the pressure is already on; I know that there are some kids in his class who do the after school tutoring not to keep up, but to get ahead. I said certainly I'd get him a tutor, if he needed one. At this point, we (as in his father and myself) don't think he needs one. Hmpffffttt... me bad mommy. Lunch wasn't feeling too lovely at this point.

I struggle with this almost on a daily basis. Am I too lax with the kids? Are they not enrolled in enough lessons? Are they not exposed to enough of the world, are they not being nurtured enough to do their best, to excel? But then again, they are only 8 and 3. Heaven forbid that I admit to the folks that the girlie cannot yet spell her name, but she does know her ABCs and she can count. I haven't told my parents that she can't yet recognize all her numbers or write them very well. I figure we'll have all summer to nail that down before kindergarten starts. Have I really swung way over to the other side of the pendulum in my desire to let my kids have a childhood?

What do I want my kids to be when they grow up? I want them to be happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable with who they are and what they are doing. I don't want my own expectations to get in the way. I don't blame my parents ; this is what they know, they've done well by their philosophies, and not to use it as an excuse, but to a great extent this is cultural.

I am afraid, though, that my legacy is to eventually expect too much from my kids. Although I'm not a royal screw-up despite my struggles within myself as to whether I did as well as I could have(ie. to be a lawyer, doctor, dentist, you know .... a, ahem, real profession); I know I will wonder whether I will have done enough, given them and guided them enough, so that they really will know for themselves, who they want to be.

I'm still waiting for this for me.

Hi, my name is Karen, and I want to be Pocahontas when I grow up.

Mission accomplished?


mah-meeee said...

ah... i know that pressure all too well. my daughter is not even 4 yet and the pressure's on.

"where are you enrolling for kindergarten?"

"does she know how to spell her name?"
yes, and write it too.

"does she know her address? phone number?"
yes on address, we're working on the phone number...

but wait, she's not going to kindergarten until end of 2009!


Rima said...

I think that we have the same parenting philosophy, but I think I'm pretty lucky that my parents back me up on it. But I struggle with it all the time, too, because I see how many "extra" activities the other kid's the V-meister's age at school are involved in, and she is not doing nearly as much as they are. I guess I still subscribe to the old school philosophy that kids should be allowed to be kids, you know? I just hope I'm not shortchanging them in the end.

Kami said...

Wow, I didn't grow up in that kind of environment. I am not even sure I could spell my name by the time I went to kindergarten. I went on to be an A student and a Chartered Accountant.

No need to push, let them be kids.

Kamden can't even spell his name yet and I won't even worry too much about it until he's about to enter Kindergarten.

They have to grow up so fast, I am a firm believer in letting them do it at their own pace.

I have heard that kids who read early end up in the same place at those kids who learn in school. Earlier doesn't necessarily mean better, eventually all kids even out.


But sheesh that must be a load coming from your parents!

OHmommy said...

Your parents are just like mine. Mine came to this country to make a better life... and we always had to be two steps ahead of everyone else.

You are just like me. I want my kids to be happy, healthy, confident, and well rounded.

That. Is. All, my friend. Great post. Keep doing what you are doing!

bec said...

Sounds like a lot of pressure to be heaped on you. Your advice to me earlier on another issue was to go with my gut so I offer the same to you.

I told you about a friend of mine who was under lots of similar types of pressure. She's in her 30s, still a student living at home. No signif. other. Meanwhile her brother, who was allowed WAAAAY more freedom, has a successful career, a wealth of friends, a signif. other and has moved out. Maybe they had higher expectations of her and pushed her more I don't know. Either way, I say it's about balance.

Love the top!!! Pocahontas hahaha!! I didn't think of that when I saw you wearing it!

Sandy C. said...

What a great post. I think I have the total opposite concerns. My parents raised me as the typical youngest daughter- with no self-esteem or self-worth. I worry all the time I will pass that on to my daughter.

I think you have the right idea. Having a happy childhood is so important.

Ed (zoesdad) said...

This is a great post and extremely introspective. Congratulations---you're a caring parent.

Me? All I wanted to be when I grew up was a kid. I'm almost there.

dkuroiwa said... is so bad over here...some kids have something every single day after school, plus saturdays and sundays...swimming, calligraphy, sodoban (abacus), piano class....oh and throw in "cram school", which for 6th graders will help them get into a good junior high....these kids have very little time to
My kids....are just kids. I refuse to be sucked into that whole "and what does your son do?" routine ....he's 10 for crying out loud!!!

This was a really good post!!

Karen said...

I dont' believe in pushing kids too fast. They'll learn what they need to know in time but you can't let them relive their childhood.

Kellan said...

Oh, I know about this pressure - onloy too well. I've been pretty hard on my kids and I don't know if I've done wrong or right, but sometimes I feel like I should not have been so hard on my girls (twins). You'll figure out the balance.

Have a good weekend Karen Meg - see you soon - Kellan

Beck said...

I have bright kids and everyone is pretty happy that they're bright, but there's no pressure from my parents, since we're a low-achieving group. Maybe I should push 'em more.

Haley-O said...

I could NEVER tell my parents that I'm learning from their mistakes. I grew up with NO SELF-ESTEEM. My parents believed in enrolling us in SOMETHING to make us feel good about ourselves. I don't think that's what does it, though.

I don't think it's the classes, the programs.

I think it's the love. I think it's the little things....

Needless to say, cultivating my daughter's self esteem is one of the most important things for me as a parent. It is EVERYTHING.

Thanks for this post. I'm thinking about the same things! :)

Nabeel said...

that's a lovely "kurta" (shirt). My culture is very big on sch hand embroided shirts.

penelope said...

Don't cave to the pressure! I bet your kids will thank you one day, for letting them be kids. I'm sure your parents have the best of intentions, looking out for their grandkids (and you), but go with your instinct.

The peer pressure starts so early, and it constantly makes us second-guess ourselves. My oldest is two, and already I know I'm not putting her preschool, but boy is that a foreign concept these days. I didn't go to preschool, and I turned out fine--I think!

Frances said...

Great Post! I find myself full of worry sometimes as to whether or not I'm challenging my daughter in the learning department. But then she's only two.

I agree with most of the sentiments of your commenters. The best thing sometimes is to just let them be kids. They've got their adult lives to live up to expectations.

My daughter having a healthy self image is more important to me than what age she learns to spell her name. Do what feels right in your heart and you can never go wrong.

Family Adventure said...

We can talk some more about this over a dim sum lunch of our own. Suffice to say I know your struggles inside and out. Darn it all - the pressure we put on ourselves, and those others put upon us.


April said...

oh, yeah, such a total slacker...NOT!! I think our job is to inspire a love of learning, to offer the encouragement, and to help them find their own way. Great post!


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