3/23/11

Where is "my wit's end"?

We've all heard it, possibly from our Mothers..."I am at my wit's end with you."

Subsequently, many of us are guilty of saying it to our children..."I am at my wit's end with you and I don't know what to do next."

For me, my wit's end is when I lose my creative ability to motivate. That's when I start to shout. There's just nothing else to do. I have no other creative outlets to influence those around me, so I yell.

I was at my wit's end two years ago when all I could do was yell. But, in those two years, "my wit's end" has gotten farther and farther away from where I am as a parent.

For example, this morning I took all the flat irons and curling irons and put them in my room. Sydney loves her hair irons more than she loves anything else, including sometimes, me. It's clear because she spends so much more quality time staring at herself in the mirror while she alters the natural growth of her hair than she spends doing anything else.

That was creative. I didn't need to yell. They just disappeared. And, in their place was the graded work she did last night.

You've probably figured it out by now, but we're still having trouble with 7th grade math. It's not a lack of skill. It's not a lack of understanding the math functions. It's not that she missed anything in class. She just can't think through the problems logically BECAUSE SHE'S IN TOO BIG OF A HURRY TO GO HAVE FUN!

And, she's 13 and her brain doesn't work right. From what I hear, from 12-16, nobody's brain works right. I bet that's when most parents say "I am at my wit's end..." because after we've exhausted our creativity, there's nothing else to do. We can't make those brains work right.

Unless we keep getting more creative. And, that's what Rob and I try to do.

Nothing that we've done so far has incented her to take her time and get math problems right. Continuing to give her work to do every day and making her sit and listen while I explain how to set up the problems is not sufficient incentive. I don't understand that. I would do just about anything to keep from having to spend all my time on 7th grade math. Why won't she?

So, I'll keep printing practice problems. And, I'll keep spending my nights explaining how to set the problems up. And, I'll keep thinking of things to restrict until she finally gets the message that math is not going away and neither am I.

And, I'll keep pushing "my wit's end" further and further away because I like the me that doesn't shout. I like the me that remains calm. Even when I lock myself in the sewing room so she can't see my frustration.

I'm happier. I think she will be too. Eventually. But, I worry that she won't get there until she's lost every priviledge and courtesy that we afford her.

But, better that she lose them now than fall behind in such an important subject.

When I near "my wit's end" I just sit back and think about what gives her pleasure. And I take it away. And, then I go print more math problems.

Because I am immenently more creative than she is stubborn.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Let me know what your most creative consequence was. Maybe I can use it to keep "my wit's end" at bay.

Lane

10 comments:

JoAnne said...

When my daughter was in sixth grade, she wanted to wear a shirt (spaghetti straps) that I didn't think was appropriate for school. That night, I was saying goodnight and the shirt was laying on the floor, and it was warm--she had worn it anyway. So, I got out my scissors (the good, fabric-only ones) and cut it up. In front of her. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but in retrospect, it diffused all future battle over clothes. She had a clothing allowance and I told her if she bought anything that didn't meet my standards, I would cut it up and she couldn't even return it. It worked, b/c she knew I would follow through.

I also knew a father who had to get really tough and he took everything out of this teenagers rooms. Everything. They got an army cot, blanket, and pillow. Everything else had to be "earned" back.

Hang in there! You are right, whatever you do now will help in the future.

Coloradolady said...

Lane,

The first thing that popped into my head as I read that was "gee if I'd had a parent like that, I might not have struggled so hard in Math and did a lot better in life"

I don't like math, loved english, and I always heard if you were good in math, you lacked in english and vice versa. I don't lnow it that is true, but it made sounded good to me!!

You are doing the right thing. This is a hard age, just hang in there.

But flat irons and curling irons are almost a necessity in a girls world......not just for fun. Just thought I'd throw that in for Syd!!! :P

Guess what my word verification word is??? "lanes"

LOL

Paul said...

My daughter is 10 and she too HATES math. Two weekends ago, she had about 1.5 hours of math homework. It was beautiful outside. She refused to do her math, and I refused to let her do anything until it was done. (I did let her use the toilet, but that was only because I didn't want a mess on my floor!)

She sat at the table for 11 HOURS, before I sent her to bed. (She did not eat lunch or dinner).

The next morning, she again sat for HOURS (5 this time, after she ate some breakfast) before she finally decided to apply herself and get it done. And then she finished in 45 minutes... I couldn't believe it, I double checked her work and she missed one problem. Almost 17 HOURS to do 45 minutes of work... Girls. Don't know what to do with them.

I NEVER had this kind of trouble from my boys.

I enjoy hearing your daughter adventures, 'cuz I'm either right there with you, or I see my future!

Take Care, and trust me, if I ever find a magical fruit, I'll pass on the wisdom...

lw said...

I have to say this right away: I love math. Math is what pays my bills. That said, most of the struggles I see with women and math are due to the abstract nature of the problems. If you can make a problem real...most women won't give a flying fig for the quadratic equation, but they will do exponents if you show them how to figure out how much interest they'll have to pay if they charge their clothes and makeup. If you can relate her math problems to real world solutions, it may go easier.

regan said...

Lane....you are a good parent! And I'm with lw....if you can get her to understand that she will always use math in everything she does, she might think better about it now. It's buying clothes on sale, and budgeting when you're on your own, and figuring on-point quilts, and tons of other things that might make sense to her.

I can tell you, as I am just returning from our family reunion, that kids do learn something from you being firm.....my boys (now in their 30's) were telling us at dinner last night, that when we used to ground them to their rooms, and I'd tell them all they could do was 'read a book'.... well, they told us that they actually read every book on our big bookcase! Books that included Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thoreau, Longfellow, Shakespeare, etc. Who knew!?! I guess grounding isn't so bad for them! Be firm....it will do her good, and she'll thank you later. Really!

Cynthia L. said...

Schooling with my daughter was much different than with most children. Because she was homeschooled, we were much more relaxed and she didn't feel the pressure that most kids feel. I didn't feel the struggles you are feeling. That said, I think I would have handled things just the way you are. Raising a child is a challenge, but well worth it. I know you and Rob know this and that is why you continue with it. This will change and get better.

Becky said...

oh boy.. My daughter is 2 and I"m so not looking forward to those teenage struggles. Sounds like you are doing the right thing for her. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Oh you are in the tough years, but hang in there! My daughter lost all her privileges in on sitting once for lying big time to me. However, when she went away to university, she said (on a regular basis, not just once) - "I sure am lucky I have you and Dad as parents. Some kids have parents who just don't care."
I admire your ability to not yell, it is very effective. My husband almost never got mad even, but when he did... things changed.
Keep moving forward, love covers a multitude of errors, I think.
Joyce

Andra Gayle said...

I am at my wits end too with my daughter who is one month shy of 13. I try to stick to the "privileges speak louder than words" thing too. She hates me for it but maybe one day she will appreciate me.

Ann Marie said...

Hang in there, time flies between 12 and 16 and then things change. We had 7 teenage girls at once living with us when we did foster care. I had it down to a tee how to do what to what kid. Kinda like you cutting up that shirt in front of her. That is how it works, and you forever get respect for it too. So keep up the good work, you will have well behaved children that have respect for you, and will want to stick around after graduation. Mine are both in college now, and have no plans of going anywhere.