Parenting a 9-year-old in the age of “Falling Skies” and “Walking Dead”

I thought that would make for a catchy title — and a meaningful one at that since these are the two favorite shows of my little tyke.  Well, he’s not so little anymore.  I’m 5’2″ and the top of his head is as tall midway between my chin and my lower lip.  The pediatrician said he grew 3 inches from July of last year to this one.  I am counting summers now until I will end up looking up at him when I talk to him.  Before long, I’ll be the smaller member of the family.

School just started and the state test results have come out, and related to that, we got a note from the school office requesting he do two days of extended classes a week.  I didn’t see the letter until he was asleep — as I went through his notebooks and homework and planner to make sure he had done them all, and that he did them correctly.  Check.

I read the letter.  I read it again.

I was alarmed.  It wasn’t so much that he was being asked — his results surprised me more so since he got higher in Math than in English — but it was because I knew he would be disappointed.  I didn’t expect he would be so emotional about it, though, when I told him the next morning.  There were tears.  I felt the heaviness in his heart.  It was one of those moments when a parent wished he or she could be the one to suffer instead of the precious child.

I let out a deep sigh.  I tried my best to sound positive.  We walked to school with the same casual banter and laughter the three days before.  But as we entered school, I could see the heaviness in his heart.  I waited for the Vice-Principal and we discussed my concerns.  His grades were more than just good, but his test results took them by surprise.  He wasn’t one of those they expected to perform below par.  I told them that wasn’t what was bothering me.

My son was very disappointed and depressed.  He was sad.  I didn’t want him to be overcome by frustration.  He asked me, “Am I not smart, mommy?”

I told him it was precisely because he was smart and the results didn’t show that that is why the school is trying their best to figure out how to help him best.  It turns out that the extended day was mandated by the school board.  Although it was “optional” according to the letter I was given, the state was going to require it moving forward.  (Apparently, that memo hadn’t been sent out yet.)

How do you tell a 9-year-old boy that he’s doing more than just fine — that he was no less smarter than he was for being asked to do the extra hours — and that he could do better?  He told me he teared up in the boy’s room in the middle of the day.  He was tearful again when he called me when he got home.

My heart is breaking into pieces.

This evening we spoke again, and he put his arms around my neck in a tight hug.  Although that would normally comfort me, I sensed it comforted him more to hold on to me.  I told him it might not even last half the year.  They just need to assess where his needs are.

I tried my hardest to explain that the kids in extended day were not dumb — they simply needed a bit more help at times.

I could have said no and declined the offer.  But that would be the easy way out and might end up as a disservice to securing a good future for him.  This was one disappointment I knew I needed to let him face.  We always want to protect our children — that’s why we often end up spoiling them.  But he needs this if only to see how much better he can do — and that is something I need him to discover for himself.

It’s going to be a long weekend as I know he’ll be asking more questions.. seeking more reassurances.

I’m trying to convince myself he’ll be fine.  As a mother, worrying is second nature to me.  Another audible sigh.

There are obstacles that we need to hurdle and journeys we need to take to get to our destiny.  That’s a tad bit too profound to tell him right now.  But in 9-year-old speak, it can simply be said with an “I love you.”  It gets a bit complicated when the 9-year-old gets to ponder the implications of a zombie apocalypse or an alien invation. Somehow something as simple as extended days in school can be too emotional a hurdle for him to get over.  But that’s what moms and dads are for — we lift them up over the hurdle and get them running again.

That’s me doing a “Rick” or a “Professor” — leading the charge, inspiring the troops on.

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2 thoughts on “Parenting a 9-year-old in the age of “Falling Skies” and “Walking Dead”

  1. I know how your son feels. When I was in grade school I’d feel really down when I don’t ace my exams or when I don’t win first place. Napaka-fragile ng self-esteem ng mga bata. So, it’s really good that you’re close with your son and he can come to you during a tough time like this. Malaking tulong ‘yun. 🙂

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    1. One thing I take pride in is how close we are and that I’ve been able to teach him to be honest and transparent. I know it’s often hard for kids to express how they feel, so I worked hard on getting him started there. I’ve missed you, Kat!!!

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