Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ugly Pants, But a Lesson Learned

I have always prided myself on my ability to micromanage every detail of everything that goes on in our home. From what will be for dinner to how much toilet paper we have to how frequently each child poops, I have it down. It's all here in my adorable little head. With recent changes around here, though, I had to let go of something. All that managing gets exhausting after a while.

Number One is now half way through the third grade. He's going to be nine years old in a couple months (Hang on. I'm breathing deeply into a paper bag on that one. NINE YEARS OLD??!?), and he's in the gifted program at school. So, basically we're looking at a very smart little boy who is really growing up.

I have always kept track of how many clean clothes he had right down to socks and underwear. If he wore something I told him not to, I got grumpy, but made sure they were washed and ready for when he'd need them next. It's the same scenario with his homework. I have always checked his backpack the minute he walked in the door, given him a snack, and then seen to it that his homework was more than just done. It was done 100% correctly. And neatly, too. And, for at least a year now, he has begged me to "stop checking my work. I can do it myself!" So, I have taken the plunge. I've stopped checking his work or even looking to see if it's been done at all. I've also quit bugging him about not wearing his good school clothes to play.

You have to know some background info. about the school clothes. I bought him four new pairs of jeans right before school started this year. The little booger hit a growth spurt, and looked like he was waiting for Noah's Ark to pull up any second by December. So, in December (not a great month to spend extra money), I got him three more new pairs of jeans. I was very clear with him that this was all he'd be getting this year for new pants (I made sure they'd last by buying a little bigger) and that they were not to be worn for running in the mud or getting gross, etc. It has been a constant battle ever since because he loves the pants and wants to wear them all. the. time. This past week, I've been biting my tongue and letting him do as he wishes. The results?

Sunday, the little genius (gifted children do not apparently have ANY common sense!) decided to hose himself and his brother and sister down while playing outside. IT'S JANUARY, PEOPLE!!!! AND HE'S OUT THERE HOSING HIMSELF DOWN!!! Anyway, those clothes were understandable soaked and muddy. Yesterday, he played out in the ice and decided to sit directly on the ice to slide down the driveway. So, those pants are soaked and muddy.

This morning, he came in crying that he had nothing to wear to school. What's that? Nothing to wear to school? And why not? Finally he gets my point!!! And I didn't have to do anything!!!! I calmly explained that he'd asked me not to nag him and I had chosen not to, but now it was his job to check and see what he'd have to wear for school if he used up all his good clothes. Not one word of argument came out of his mouth!!! Not one!!! (This is huge for him.) I offered him so other pants, but he said they were too small and ugly. So, he went to school wearing a pair of running pants that are too big, but apparently better looking than the ones I'd offered.

And, the homework situation? All of a sudden, I find him coming to me to ask for help. Go figure. And, should he not complete an assignment, his teacher gives him a mark and he gets to do it during recess. Seems like a fitting consequence to me, and it's one I don't have to enforce. I've come to accept that third grade is not like college. He won't lose his scholarship if his work isn't done to perfection. He'll get lower grades and maybe learn a lesson about personal responsibility. And my life will be easier at home to top it off.

So, off he went this morning in ugly pants and a homework assignment that I can only hope is done completely and correctly. And I think it's safe to say that he (and I) learned more from those ugly pants than any lesson he'll learn at school today.

1 comment:

Snigger Fam said...

I think all of us were better kids for wearing ugly pants. Doesn't it seem like kids take two steps forward, then one step back?