Just when I think I have a grasp of things, I get thrown a meteor. Both of us have been slogging through what feels like a quagmire of new routines, more responsibility and less down time.
We've both been cranky, testy and easily agitated. It hasn't been easy here at the Dojo.
Nathan's homework has increased exponentially. He's now up to 60 minutes a night, compared to 30. He started slacking after the first week. Forgetting a math sheet here, saying he didn't have to do that sheet there. Playing videogames at his afterschool program without touching a stitch of homework, even though he said he had done it and he hadn't. His attitude stunk, his work ethic was poor and he wanted to have his old routine back. He wanted me to do the writing, he didn't want to put the effort in. It was the same pattern from before the end of school in the 3rd grade.
And I wasn't having any of it.
I understand that Nate has certain needs. I know that he needs to have his approach to homework tailored to his work style. However, he still needs to DO it. His perspective is, "Well, if I ignore it or feign that I don't know what's happening, then I'm not responsible."
One of the biggest things I'm working on with Nathan is to have him learn more responsibility.. There are a few things he is responsible for now. Getting dressed, washing himself, brushing his teeth and hair, putting his dishes in the sink and his laundry in the basket. The big one is homework, which has always been an epic battle. I knew to get his attention I had to pull the big guns.
I took away video games. More than once. Three times in less than a week.
Yep, I did. I knew what would happen when he did it, too. Big tears, big screams, big dramatic movements across the house. Banging of heads into pillows. Calling me a horrible mother. Hiding in his closet. All the things I avoided in the past because I didn't want to deal with the melodrama. I was being lazy, too. I didn't want to endure it. Who wants to hear their kids scream for an hour or more? Not me, that's for sure.
I had to bite the bullet and deal with the consequences. He told me he hated me, hated the rules, hated his homework. I reminded him videogames are a privledge, not a right, and you have to earn it. There were a few days that were rather dark and sad as he contemplated his fate.
The past few days we have seen a little light at the end of the tunnel. His afterschool site director said that he is seeing other boys go do their homework first, and then go and do videogames. He is now doing the same behavior without being prompted by others. This is a step in the right direction. There will be days when we can slack on the routine, but the routine is being established right now. Once the pattern is honed, then some slight changes can be made.
Like Nate, I too, am struggling with my new job. I am not accustomed to being in charge and not being micromanaged to death. I have a lot of freedom, which in truth is a little frightening. I am swimming in a sea where I am the bright shiny new fish and this pond has never seen the likes of me. I am new to a program where the previous director was there for 11 years. Its daunting.
The kids are fighting hard against change and are very outward with their dislike of it. I've had issues with my staff over changes in procedure, where I had to have my program director come in and have a sit down with an employee as I have not been able to make any headway with her.
I have been leaning on my program director heavily for advice, guidance and procedure, as it's an entirely new ball of wax. I feel like I'm trying too hard to have my wings dry quick enough for me to fly on my own, but on the other hand, I am really afraid to fly.
Today, I had a parent come up to me and tell me she felt I was using "shameful and demeaning language" when speaking with the children. Not her child directly, but other children. I am not all sweetness and light. I am very kind and respectful, but if someone is acting up, I will call them to the carpet on it in a firm tone. I don't yell. She said that she wanted to talk with me further about this. I was totally thrown off my game. I ran through the scenario about 3 million times in my head, second guessing myself, wondering if I was really being mean to them, what was I doing in this job, am I cut out for this job, etc.
I called my best friend, in a panic, and he said that I did everything I was supposed to do. I called my program director and talked with her about it, again, feeling like I'm micromanaging everything. I explained everything and she laughed and said, "Really? You?" I was so scared to lose my job over this, but tried really hard not to express that over the phone. She asked if she wanted me to be present at the meeting and I said yes, I would feel more comfortable. Which is true. But then I felt like I'm an idiot for not being able to figure this out on my own. Honestly, I know this mother will not like what I have to say and ask for my program director anyway, so I'm killing two birds with one stone.
Then, not an hour later the mother calls and asks to set up a meeting. I tell her that's no problem. I tell her I'll be meeting with my program director in the morning and that she'll be there when we eventually meet. She asked, "Are you sure you want me being candid and honest in front of your boss?" I said, "I have no problem with that at all." Which is partially true. However, I'm kind of scared that she'll just paint this horrible picture of me, which I'm then afraid I'll be revealed as a big hack and then I'll get fired and be poor and have to crawl on my hands and knees to get my old job back.
So much drama in such a tiny little space. I'm not handling this very well at all. I even called my therapist to move my appointment up, even though I've been doing so great at dealing with my shit and handling my problems and using positive affirmations, it all went down the toilet today. I felt weak and worthless and questioned my whole existence.
Damn, that was exhausting.
I was very thankful that Nate had his homework mostly done when I picked him up. That made for an easier evening. I then announced we were going to get ice cream. Before dinner. I thank Kim & Jason for that little nugget of inspiration. We went to our absolute favorite ice cream place and he had the Kung Fu Grasshopper (Mint chocolate chip) and I had the Raspberry Cheesecake and it was as sinful as it sounds and I ate every single bite of it.
I looked up at the stars and we saw the big dipper and the little dipper and I said, "Nate, I stand here with you, and underneath the stars and I realize that my problems aren't as big as I make them out to be. That I can make it through anything."
He smiled at me, his face covered in green and black smudges.
This rattled me, for sure, but it did not break my foundation. I have a very strong support system in place. I thank my best friend in the whole wide world, with whom I go and have milkshakes at midnight, and I can talk to him about anything and everything, and vice versa. He is my truest and closest confidant and believes in me implicitly. He is my biggest supporter. :D
I thank my boss, who has so much faith in me and what I can do and makes me feel great as I am stumbling through this minefield, making mistakes, watching things blow up and yet, she still has me on staff and would back me up in a nanosecond.
I thank the Universe for sending this to test me. Sometimes you need to have your mettle (metal? lol) stress tested. Mine went through the ringer and I made it through to the other side. I will work that much harder to be ready to endure that again.