Saturday, October 24, 2015

Teaching Disappointment

Last night and this weekend, I'm having to teach disappointment and dealing with the consequences to Wm.  It is rough!

Background: His school has "jobs" for kids.  Third graders are in charge of the mail delivery system, aka "backpack mail."  I love this system - I can just send in something to the PTA noting the subject mater on the envelope, and the kids have a list of which type of info goes to which child in which class to get the envelope to the right PTA parent volunteer.  If I need to send a letter to a specials teacher or front office, ditto.  If a kid is interested, s/he can sign up to be a "postmaster" (sort the mail in afternoon) or "delivery agent" (deliver mail before school).

William wanted to be a delivery agent.  He came home one day super excited about this.  While he thought the post master job might be more interesting, he said he knew he couldn't do it because with three kids, there was already enough going on after school.  And, he also told me he only volunteered to deliver mail on M/W/F, because he knew it would be too hectic for Lea to get him to school early on days when Ian had to get to school.  Really, I was quite proud of him for thinking about all this.

Friday was the "exam" day.  I wished him luck when I left for work.  When I got home, I asked him how the test went.  He immediately broke down in tears - somehow, by the time he arrived at school, he went into autopilot and went right to the cafeteria to line up for class.  He forgot to go to the classroom to take the test.   (He walks with a friend, so Lea wasn't there to remind him about the test once he arrived.)

I emailed the teacher, but unfortunately there is no make up test.  It was a one time deal.

Through his sadness, he said he wanted to do this because the job he really wanted for the school was to be a "patrol" (i.e., the 4th and 5th graders who help line kids up for buses, make sure the little kids get off at the right bus stop, etc).  But, we won't be here for 4th or 5th grade, so this would be his only shot.

Part of me really wanted to explain these special circumstances to the teacher.  But part of me realized - both for me as a parent and him as a kid - we both need to learn right now.  I need to remind myself I can't do everything for my kids, and he needs to learn he is ultimately responsible for himself. And for both of us to remember that "failure" isn't the end of the world. (let's face it, I don't fail very often, so I don't take failure very well either!)

There's been a lot of discussions about the high rate of anxiety and depression among new college students in articles and in books like "How to Raise and Adult."  I haven't read the book and have only skimmed the articles (in general, I don't like reading parenting advice), but I get the general idea that it's important to help your kid learn how to cope with disappointment, especially when they only have themselves to blame for that disappointment.

So, we'll have a few tough days with tears.  And a few conversations which I'm sure will involve him shouting about how dumb his teacher is and me reminding him he can't blame others for his mistake (and him storming off to his room).  But, fingers crossed, in the end he'll move on and find something else to be involved in.