This is a long post, so let me apologise in the beginning.
Yesterday was a bad day. It started off fine. till 7 pm, it was fine. At 7 pm, Sonny boy and I sat down to get his homework done. And the day started to go bad.
Sonny boy had been down with a severe cough and cold the week before last, and he'd even been having antibiotics. He was not well, so he did not go to school for a week; and he was not well, so he did not do his homework for a week. But the next week, when he did go to school, his books were marked with a red question mark. Of the kind we used to dread getting in our answer papers. (Amazing how teachers retain the same handwriting, over the ages.) Of course Sonny boy was blissfully uncaring. And I had no cares either, inititally- after all, H/W could be caught up on.
But come the end of that week, his H/W book was marked with a list of last week's (the week he was absent) and the current week's H/W, and we still had his earlier H/W to catch up on. Man! This had to be the mother of all homeworks!
Sonny boy and I commenced briskly last Mon evening. Our weekend had anyway gone for a six. All oral stuff was a breeze, and Sonny boy being pretty fond of his books, was already familiar with most of the regular big x small, tall x short, in x out, on x under stuff. What he did not like was writing. And in writing, he particularly hated writing numbers.
Let me add here, that while he LOVED scribbling around indiscriminately with his pen/pencil/crayon, he did not take kindly to being required to colour within limits, or along lines or curves. He has a mind of his own and doesn't like to be told what to do, and doesn't do what he is supposed to , if he can help it.
But things were not too bad. We arrived at compromises.
"You want to play with Thomas?"
Dull eyes and sagging shoulders perk up instantly. Enthusiastic series of nods.
"Ok, then let's finish this page of straight lines."
"You want chocolate/chips?"
A hopeful gleam enters above dull eyes. Confirms that chocolate/chip is indeed available. Looks at me with a isn't-this-too-good-to-be-true expression. He knows his Amma, you see.
"Ok, you can have it after we finish writing the number 2."
And tho' shoulders slumped a bit, we went on.
We finished straight lines, vertical lines, oblique lines, curved lines, and numbers 1 and 2 by Wed, before trouble started. Since Sonny boy was as yet unused to holding his pencil, I used to help him grip it, and we progressed alright on Mon, Tue, Wed. By yesterday, he was used to the concept of sitting down and writing for half an hour to an hour. That laziness had worn off, and he used to come and sit at the table without much fuss. So I thought it was time he gradually learnt to grip his pencil by himself too. This was more because, with me guiding his fingers, Sonny boy tended to let his attention wander.
We were doing 3. We'd already finished three lines of 3 on Wed, writing over the dots... We started off with the next page, where only one column had the dotted 3 and the remaining columns had to be done by yourself. There were some 7-8 columns and about 10 rows. I guided his fingers over the first 3 rows. Gradually started letting go with the 4th. Tried to make him concentrate. But he just wouldn't. HE JUST WOULDN"T. He refused to draw without my fingers on his.
By now he could sense that I was irritated, bordering on frustrated. He started getting more distracted than ever, and worried of upsetting me. After three whole rows of writing and bleating 'threeeee!' on Wed, yesterday, when I asked him what the number was after making him write it, he said 'Five!' And then immediately on seeing my look- 'Sorry!'
But no effort to concentrate... I showed him 1 and 2 in the earlier pages, and he said those two numbers correctly. Then I showed him 3, and he said 'three.' Fine. I took another book, searched out 3 and asked him what the number was . "Five!!" I showed him 2 and asked him -"what?" "Five!!"
I totally lost it. I screamed at him. He cowered before me, started crying.
My Mom was there and she intervened. Took him off to play with the magnetic numbers I had bought for Sonny boy the previous day, trying to get him to look at numbers as fun. (But we hadn't yet had time for the fun part.) She told me to change his mood and then get him back to studying. But then, when you get home at 7, and you have to go to bed at 10 so you can wake up at 7 the next morning, there isn't much time to let his mood change, is there?
I waited on tenterhooks for 15 minutes. No sign of Sonny boy's mood taking a turn for the better. And that irritating "Five" hadn't disappeared either. He kept naming all the numbers except 1 as "Five!" I decided that enough was enough- there were still some 6-8 more pages of HW to be done- all writing stuff. And when would we finish if we were to wait for mood changes?
I requested my Mom to go into her room and shut the door. Husband was already wisely behind another door. Actually, he helped at times, but he was slow, and I HAD to finish everything by yesterday, for H/W had to be submitted Fri morn. Besides, in the last H/W, for things to be coloured yellow, Acha had helped Sonny boy colour green, and that had earned a red question mark as well. So I thought it would be better to do it myself. Wrong thought.
Things went from bad to worse, and Sonny boy just did NOT concentrate ONE bit on what he was supposed to do, whereas I kept going from mad to madder to maddest. The house was filled alternately with my shouts of frustration and his shouts of rage, till finally I decided that we were not going anywhere and at this rate, he would probably end up hating studying. We stopped. Homework unfinished.
But I was still mad at him for not trying to do what I wanted him to do. Once he'd gotten away from his writing, Sonny boy came around to nestle with his Amma. But I steadfastly maintained that I did not like little boys who wouldn't do their homework, and I did NOT want to play with him. He burst into tears again. I felt like the meanest Mom, but I was too upset after our recent bout to unwind so fast.
I should never have let myself get so mad. I should not have let the pressure of unfinished homework get to me. So what if it was not done completely? It was just some pages of stuff he was behind on, because he had not been well, and we'd been overloaded with guests. Why did I have to create such a bad memory for him? He's not going to like writing any time soon now.
Why o why does a three and a half year old have so much homework? I had thought Montessori meant that you learnt through play. Then how this? Actually if we had been regular with our study time, we wouldn't have had a problem. But isn't 31/2 too young for study timetables? I am totally depressed and woe begone.
Sometimes I wonder if my going to work is the problem. Is my having so little time and so much to cram into those hours that is the problem? Then how do other working Mom's manage? And since I can't afford to quit my job, what do I do as Sonny boy grows older?
2 days ago