I originally enrolled her in karate because she expressed an interest. When my kid seems interested in a hobby, I move fast - witness the purchase of the Latin book! I think she doesn't have enough that she's interested in, actually. She doesn't have an area of obsession, just a general interest in everything. Which is, of course, not a bad thing...
But that's neither here nor there.
Since getting her green belt, she's been slacking. The problem is that she's really being expected to Do The Work now. She's not allowed to goof off. She needs to actually practice. Her kicks, her blocks, everything needs to be decisive. Kid can't have noodle-arms. And because she doesn't practice, she's not performing as well as the other kids, and this upsets her, and she's been wibbling for some time. Asks frequently if she can skip karate that day, etc. I've flat-out asked her if she wants to quit, and still she wibbles.
"I don't like it that's it's hard. But I really like seeing all my friends!"
"It wouldn't be as hard if you practiced, hon."
And so on.
I have actually started to nudge her lately... because they're getting to the point where they need actual fighting gear, mouthpieces, shin guards, wrist guards, little helmets. This equipment costs money. Not a lot individually, but it adds up. And I'm not going to spend about $100 on gear for a kid who's not committed to using it. I'm not rich. I'm not doing this unless I have some faith that it's going to get used for more than a month. Plus, y'know, I pay $75 a month for lessons, and if she doesn't want to go, I have other ways I can use that money.
The secondary problem here is that I'm walking a fine line. I don't want to raise a quitter - but at the same time, I don't want to push her to do things that will make her miserable. But dammit, I want her to follow through with things. I want her to experience things in their fullness, to not just give up when something requires effort. I was disappointed (though I didn't tell her) when she decided not to compete in the spelling bee.... just try it, kid, you might like it!
So I've been mulling this over in my head for a bit.
Elayna has become inspired by Harriet the Spy. She wants a notebook. Excellent! A notebook she shall have it. I gotta say, I love when I can completely satisfy a whim for under a dollar. And when I got up this morning, Elayna eagerly asked if I'd buy her a notebook today. I said sure.
"Great! And then I can take it to karate!"
I blinked. "You're going to karate today?" Karate offers classes for her age group on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday... she generally goes Saturday and either Tuesday or Thursday. I don't think she's gone on a Monday at all this year!
"Yep! I was thinking about karate and y'know, I really like it and I like my friends, and I wanna try harder."
Where is the pod, and what have they done with my child?
She has been maturing pretty damn rapidly over the past few weeks. I'm continually startled. Her behavior at the writing marathon, for one thing, and she really did everything she could to help me all weekend. And yesterday....
We have this policy. Miss Kid gets half an hour of TV a day on weekdays, and hour on weekends. She wants more, she has to read for half an hour to earn half an hour. But it has to be a book she hasn't already read.
So yesterday. She'd left her new book at manifestress's, so she grabbed an old one to read at morning snacktime.
And she kept reading.
And my recalcitrant child read pretty much all day. I stepped over her to put away neatly-folded laundry, to tidy my bedroom. She read on my bedroom floor for about an hour. She finished that book, picked up another, and retired to the couch with it. The child who always wants to be timed to she only reads for half an hour just. kept. reading.
I forgot how the idea of watching a family movie came up, but Elayna was surprised at my suggestion. "But Mom, I already took my TV time before you woke up!"
"Yeah, but you've been reading all day!"
"Yeah, but it's books I've read before. That doesn't count for TV time!"
And I hugged her. "Dude... the fact that you've spent about two hours today reading just for the pleasure of reading... that goes a long way. You have totally earned a movie."
And dude, seriously, yeah.
She is such a pain in the ass, sometimes.... Sunday morning, I'd wanted to duct-tape her mouth, because she did not stop talking from the moment she woke up until she picked up that book. And I mean I'm half asleep with horrible stabbing pain and no coffee and I just want her to. be. quiet. But that's not a Bad Thing at all. Once I worked my way through the brainfog - she just wanted to demonstrate some Math Magic, which is really cool. She just does not stop talking. :)
But the flip side of alwaystalking is that I always know what she's up to, how she stands. She refuses to admit that she has a crush on this one boy, but dude, I can so tell. I know what she's reading. I know which friends are her closest. I know how she feels about stuff.
And she'll probably drive me bugnuts tonight simply because she is such a performer and she fights bedtime when my friends are over. But there's all this really cool stuff going on with her.
And yeah, I tell her that. When I'm proud, and why. Personally, I never got positive feedback as a kid. But my kid deserves some. How will she know what she's doing right if I don't tell her? There's more to life than just being told what not to do.
So yeah, not that I'm a perfect parent by any means (I don't spend near enough time with her, seriously), but looking up at this post, I see a few really basic points that partially summarize my informal parenting philosophy.
2. Pay attention to the media they absorb. Limit TV, gaming, and internet usage. Emphasize books and creative play. And know what they're watching and reading! Make sure it's age- and content-apprpriate.
3. Positive feedback. And when you criticize, tell them why. Same thing with laying down rules. Tell them why; make them understand.
4. Low-pressure. I'm trying hard on this!
5. Realism in finance. A 99-cent notebook she can have today. A $30 video game goes on her wishlist. She knows Mommy isn't rich, and she knows that if she puts an item on her wishlist, someone will most likely get it for her eventually. The existence of a wishlist has been a godsend. This is why you don't see my child sobbing "Mommy, buy it, buy it!!!" in Toys R Us. My child says, "Mommy, can we put that on my wishlist?"
Aaaand I'll probably think of more later.
As I said, I never got much in the way of positive feedback as a kid. Or, hell, as an adult. So my parenting style is pretty much just doing the opposite of everything my parents did. Surprisingly enough, it actually seems to be working.
Again. I'm not perfect, not supermom; I know this. I'm just trying to pay attention.
And I have rambled long enough.