I knew it was coming. He has done this to me every year since he has been in school. From his first year in preschool when he sat on the stairs and refused to go in. To his first year in Kindergarten, when he left his class, stood on his tiptoes peering into my classroom through the window in the door, and refused to leave until I took home. Or the next year, when he refused to leave the after school program in spite of my pleas and the time. Or last year, when we sat for four hours at the table on our deck waiting for him to complete the homework he adamantly refused to do. What did I do in all those instances, the same thing I did yesterday. I remained calm. I told him what was expected, and allowed real world consequences to be his teacher. In preschool, I left. His teacher watched him and, when boredom finally set in, he joined the class. In Kindergarten, I ignored him until he grew tired of standing at my door and returned to class. In the after school program, I pretended to leave. This one was really funny because Sharon, the after school leader, was in on it with me, and we did not tell him that I was in my classroom waiting the whole time. After the last child left, she started to lock up. Elliot looked up at and her and asked "what are we going to do"? She said I have to go home. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he exclaimed "I'm going to have to stay here and eat the garbage!". At this moment, I walked out and he ran into my arms. He never pulled that trick again. Year after year, I have to show Elliot that in spite of what he may want, there are times when things just have to be done, and it is better to do them when you have the opportunity rather than to wait.
Yesterday, as he laid on the basement floor refusing to do his schoolwork, I simply told him that he could not do anything else until it was done. I make it sound so easy, but inside, like all the other times, I was fuming and wanted nothing more than to beat him silly, but I didn't and I never do. I just went about the day like everything was normal, like there wasn't a little lump of a person laying around whining how unfair this world is. So, no worries! You don't have to call Social Services. I did not hit him. I only thought about it . . . tee hee!
And four hours later, after watching his brother complete his work, play with toys, and watch some cartoons, he caved and began to do his work. By this time, I was busy doing the housework so he had to do it all on his own, and therefore, it took a lot longer than usual for him to complete it. Rather than curling up on the couch to have me read a book about New Brunswick to him like I did for Avery earlier, he had to read it on his own and then be quizzed on what he learned. When everything was finally done at 4pm, Elliot looked up at me, and exclaimed: "I will never do that again, Mommy!".
I know, dear. At least not until next year.
Last night, as I laid in bed telling Mr. Level-Headed all about the day's shenanigans and wondering why on earth Elliot acts so foolish, he came up with something profound. He said "Elliot does it to test the boundaries, and to ensure that there are indeed boundaries there. It makes him feel safe".
Hello! Light bulb moment!
That Mr. Level-Headed is so smart. Of course! Being the first year of his homeschooling experience, Elliot was probably questioning why he had to do it. At school, there was the threat of going to the Principal's office, and so the fear of an authority figure was what compelled him to do his work. It's like my boys thinking I don't speed out of fear of being caught by the police rather than a conscious decision on my part to be a cautious driver. Elliot had to learn that work is a natural part of our day, and there is no way around it. Sure, you can choose to ignore it, but it never goes away, and the longer you wait to do it, the more work you create for yourself. Life truly is the best teacher!
So, thanks to Mr. Level-Headed, after spending the entire day feeling discouraged and questioning my decision to homeschool, I drifted off to sleep feeling at peace with my decision and reminding myself that the most valuable things in this world are often the hardest things to do, or in this case, to raise . . . tee hee!
I love you Elliot!