It’s been three weeks since school started and I’m completely burned out. It feels as though we’ve gone from 0 to 60 mph as fast as you can say Algebra I. And make no mistake. We are talking Algebra I in my crib. And Western Civilization. And Honors Language Arts. Oh, how I miss the days of elementary school. And coloring. Sadly I haven’t seen the magic markers all month. On the contrary, Noah is being asked to contextualize the life of Eratosthenes while Chase is tasked with identifying the metaphors in the poetry of Philip Booth. And it’s only September.
Needless to say, it’s been a stressful re-entry. For me.
The boys, on the other hand, seem to be handling the intensity in stride, despite the fact that I have completely lost my shit at least half a dozen times over their school assignments in the last week. (But only once on the outside. Yay me.) So I have been grousing and mulling over my current state of mind, figuring out why I started down this troubled path and how I can cut over to Laissez Faire Lane without any casualties.
As it turns out, someone needs a lobotomy. And her name rhymes with Schmemily.
As I looked into the source of my pain, I quickly came to the conclusion that somehow, I gave birth to two Type B children. I am still grappling with this reality as one would think that Type A would be the dominate character trait to pass along. Because Type A’s get things done – and we are always right – and diligent – and committed. One would think that we would be certain to ensure that our offspring would inherit our awesomeness. We would WILL it to be. As it turns out, we don’t have a say in this regard. Thus, I have two kids who, like their father, have zero interest in any approach to school work that involves getting it done without me gently reminding, strongly suggesting, vaguely threatening, or abdicating the throne of motherhood.
But this year, it is even worse than that. Not only have I thrown myself into the vacuum where I think their initiative should be, but I have very quickly taken ownership of their potential, all the while knowing that it doesn’t belong to me. So while they AREN’t worrying about whether they get their homework done or if it’s up to par, I SURE AM. Mind you, I haven’t crossed the line of doing their assignments for them – but I have definitely gotten in between their efforts and their final submissions. I can see that line from where I stand, and I don’t like it.
“You just have to let them fail,” says Type B husband, uh I mean Dave.
He’s right. I know he is. But what if they fail…and don’t care? Or more likely, what if their definition of failure and mine are widely different? What if they are perfectly happy getting a C+ on a paper and I view that as squandering an opportunity to get an A? What if, at the end of the day, they decide that average is fine?
It is here that I pause and bow my head in shame, as with this perspective I am no better than that awful parent who yells at their kid from the sidelines of a soccer game, or the Tiger Mom who insists on violin practice over play dates. Both types of these parents give me the creeps. I need to step back.
My boys are smart and their potential is substantial. But inserting myself into the process won’t make them any more awesome. It will, however, make them completely dependent on me to get things done right. And as much as I would like to go back to college (best years of my life), I think they may have a problem with me tagging along just to proof read their papers.
I have been operating under the faulty, egotistical premise that my children are the ultimate reflection of me. But they are far from it. And anyone who has ever tried to change a reflection to their liking knows that it ain’t happening.
I have spent the last three weeks trying to bring my boys over to Type A Land because its where I am most comfortable. But it is not where they belong. For the rest of the year, I need to let them stay in Type B-ville – failures, successes and all. I’ll be sure to visit them there, as I have heard from others that the view can be particularly relaxing. Perhaps we can co-exist.
Who knows? With any luck maybe they’ll come see me on their own volition in Type A Land every now and then. I hope so. At least for final exams.