Kid E came home from school in early October and unloaded his backpack. Inside his folder was a piece of paper. He happily announced in my direction, “This is for you. From my teacher. I will put it in your bin.”
I was excited that he had already mastered my rules established to conquer school-related entropy (for a quick ENTROPY primer, click here) by unpacking and sorting immediately upon entry. I like to train them young around here. Early independence of my kids is always a long-term goal.
So I let him do his jobs… his shoes get put in the shoe basket, his lunchbox gets emptied of any trash and leftovers and put on the kitchen table, important papers go in the bin on my desk. He is always so proud when he completes these simple tasks. And then he inevitably asks if he can watch videos.
Meanwhile, this kid has been glued to electronics since birth. My bad. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am not. I have been such a slacker parent with him. I always say yes when he asks if he can watch the video/ play the game/ download the app. I get more done that way. I mean, he’s my FIFTH kid. But I think I am wrecking him. He talks in a language I partly do not understand (“Mom, can you type in ‘skylanders swap force girl and boy super evil chaos?'”) and I partly am super worried about (see previous example). In the beginning, I would always say things like, “Apple products are truly user-friendly! Even my baby can use this iMac, and he can’t even sit up!” I guess we’ll just see how my little experiment turns out. Here’s hoping for the best.
Anyway, he gave me the paper from his kindergarten teacher and went off to watch YouTube videos of other people playing video games (I know, I know… Mother of the Year over here. But he knows to turn it off if there are curse words worse than what I drop on the daily). About a half hour later, I got around to browsing through my in-bin.
Kid E had been given a project. Dun-dun-dun. Well, crap.
The October kindergarten project (Man, I really hope this is not setting some sort of precedent for a new project each month, because that would be some bullshit. It’s kindergarten, not grad school.) was to find a book that you liked, write some things about the main character and a short summary of what they did in the book, and then decorate a small pumpkin to resemble that character. He had to bring it all in by Monday, October 28th.
OK, we had some time. And the assignment wasn’t overwhelming or impossible or even that much of a pain in the ass. So I presented the project to Kid E with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
“Hey, buddy? Can you take off the headphones and press pause for a sec (and, yes, I made the universal gesture for taking off headphones). This paper you said was from your teacher for me… actually, it is a fun project for you!” I went on to explain the assignment with gusto. But the kid was not buying it. He was not excited. He was not even happy. He started to cry uncontrollably.
“But, MOM! It is supposed to be for YOU, not ME! What am I gonna do? How am I gonna do it? I can’t do it. I don’t know how to do ANYTHING!”
I gave him a big, fat hug and helped him to bring it down a notch. I explained that he most certainly knew how to do lots of things… like putting his shoes in the bin, and emptying his lunchbox and backpack, and putting important papers on my desk. I reminded him that he also dressed and undressed himself, put his clothes in the hamper, and put the silverware and napkins on the table for dinner. I pointed out that he can read now, and his writing was getting really good, and he knew how to do math problems. Kid D heard the commotion at this point and (helpfully?) added that Kid E also cleaned up his toys, but only when I made him. He also suggested a book for the project, The Runaway Bunny. That part was actually pretty helpful.
“Perfect, ” I said. “You like that book. You can write about the little bunny and all of his shenanigans when he tries to run away from his mother. And we could buy a pet-sized bunny costume and glue the ears on your tiny pumpkin!” I continued to reassure him. “You know how to do lots of things. Don’t you worry about a thing. We’ve got this.” Kid E stopped crying.
Then he asked if he could go back to watching the YouTube. Of course I let him. I had stuff to do.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…