Unfamiliar anxiety-- a Ramble about moving beyond the early years - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-12-2013, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD1 would be finishing her 2nd grade year in PS soon and going into 3rd grade.  3rd grade????  Alarm bells are going off in my head--what has she not learned??  What do we need to introduce??  Are we doing anything wrong???  I need to be more proactive!! Advancement!!

 

Breathe.  Remind myself of many things:

 

1)  Everything she has learned, it is because she wanted to learn it...

 

2)  ...and most of it she learned on her own, and the rest of it she learned by asking.

 

3)  Regardless of what she does or doesn't know, she is still energetic and curious about "learning stuff" and shows no signs of being weary and burned out.

 

4)  She is growing up without all the stress of getting to school, fitting everything into a day and having little time for her own interests.

 

 

Something about being "a third grader" and approaching 9yo is setting off these thoughts of academic parity and blah blah blah (sorry, my verbal skills aren't engaged this morning).  Nothing is a concern right now.  She's not advanced in any way, but she's reading, she's writing and interested in spelling things properly, she has some math skills and is interested in history and science-- so I'm a bit flubbered orngtongue.gif by these alarmist thoughts!

 

I know there are a few things I'd like to change about our HSing, mainly something that is nothing academic-- housekeeping!  I dream about having a house that is ready for whatever we think of for the day (not necessarily perfect, just ready!).  I wish I was a bit more organized in facilitating their ideas-- they have been asking to make bird houses on and off for a couple of years now. Unfortunately this is not my territory, though I wish it would be!  If they were to ask about knitting something, we could dive right in it, but they don't.  Anyhow, I'm thinking of ways to work this out, and dh is taking the girls out for Gymnastics Day on Tuesday so I actually have time alone at home--something I never, ever get!  (I'm going to have to resist spending my time dancing and singing--so no Grateful Dead, but maybe some Cole Porter, like the soundtrack to Delovely.)  I plan on getting the house tidied, organized and just a bit cleaner.  I hope to do this regularly.  

 

I hope to get the girls more on board with helping me with this.  I need them to see the connection between my doing it all alone and the lack of project time I have for them.  (But that's not the only reason--I'm a bit lazy and distracted!)

 

Anyway, to be ready to dive in have been my dream for a while, and I think just doing that will ease some of this anxiety that is bubbling up.  It's hard for me to be organized for any meaningful length of time-- it's so easy to digress back to the default operating mode.

 

I'd like to have more time to make my own music, to pull out my own projects when they don't need me, to dust off the sewing machine and get busy.

 

Wow.  This thread has gone from anxiety about where dd1 is at academically to where I am at in being an effective homeschooling parent!  I wasn't even sure I was going to post this, but I see that this feeling is more than just one instance of insecurity-- I have need for some real change!

 

Finally, my choice of title says it all.  (Or not, apparently, because I have more to say about it!)  I feel like dd1 has been gearing up for a shift.  She stills hangs on to her play, but I see a growing unease and boredom with it and an growing interest in projects and activities (though, I have noticed this before and am not entirely sure what is happening).  She always did prefer those that were more prescribed than open-ended-- it's been dd2 who has embraced raw, unbridled creativity.  DD1 has always preferred facts and the realistic and recreating something fun and interesting rather than create something entirely new.  I think she would do well with traditional academics.  

 

I know what I need to do first-- not change her, because she's doing great-- but continue to change my habits so I can be ready for her.  


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Old 05-12-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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LOL! I started reading, and had some perspectives that I thought might help, and as I kept reading, you articulated every last little point that I had planned to make. Sounds like you've worked it all out in the space of a single post. nod.gif

 

I do think there is a shift as kids begin to set aside play as the default activity and aren't quite sure what to fill their lives with instead. I think it's particularly an issue for first-born kids. I see an immense difference between my eldest's situation at age 9-10 and my youngest's current situation at this age. My eldest was full-on into imaginary play with her siblings but in eccentric, obsessive, controlling ways, like she was clinging to it and trying to make it fill a need it didn't naturally or easily fill. My youngest (now 10) gave up most play two or three years ago and is busy and full of purpose, oriented to more grown-up things. She knows exactly what she wants to fill her life with as she leaves childhood behind, as her siblings have given her great examples of competence and wing-spreading that inspire her to move forward. It's a double-edged sword, of course: she's not always old enough or entirely ready for the things she wants.

 

If you figure out how to change your housekeeping ways and keep things that way, please let me know. I suck at tidy home management.

 

Miranda


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Old 05-12-2013, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Your eldest sounds so much like mine in many ways.  Mine is also obsessive and controlling (not always a negative trait!).  She is also very... hmmmm... she tries to fit her activities into a mental picture she has already created.  This can lead to problems relating to perfectionism.  DD2 shapes her mental images of what she wants to do with what is at hand, entirely the opposite, and as such has no perfectionist tendencies.  

 

DD1 is a bit lost, I think.  She's not quite interested in what I am doing, but her sister is still fully in Sandbox Mode (actually I have a feeling this one will be there for quite a while!)  So, you are so right that she has nothing to show what is in between.  Thank you for articulating that, because it is something I've missed.  I would love to find some older girls for her to spend time with, but I suppose that will come.  I am happy that we have found any girls, so I shouldn't yet complain they are all younger than she.  

 

I think getting myself busier doing more interesting things might help--but there is that problem of being buried by the house!  I'm not talking about a Clean Home, I'm talking about a Functionally Tidy home!  I need to turbo charge my efforts to keep things in a reasonable order.  That's a start, anyway.  And get my sewing machine to get a tune-up!  DD1 has a beautiful dress designed for us to make (way beyond my capabilities, unfortunately, but we'll manage).  


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Old 05-12-2013, 01:25 PM
 
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Wow, SweetSilver and Miranda! You two are so great to learn from. I have no advice, but I love seeing your thoughts and responses laid out so openly. You are both great inspiration for me as a parent. No presure. smile.gif Hugs, mamas!
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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I do think there is a shift as kids begin to set aside play as the default activity and aren't quite sure what to fill their lives with instead. I think it's particularly an issue for first-born kids

 

Any tips on navigating this shift? I'd love to hear ideas... My son is almost nine and an only child, and over the last year or so has really outgrown a lot of the things he used to do. 


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Old 05-12-2013, 08:49 PM
 
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Well, I think to a significant extent it's a shift the kids have to solve for themselves by discovering what interests them. But I think being busy with real work can help. Traditionally kids this age began taking on larger responsibilities around the home and on the farm or what-have-you: tending to younger siblings, herding, milking, cooking, etc., often without direct supervision. I think this is the age at which I began going to the convenience store on my own to run errands for my mom. My 10-year-old does some house-cleaning (for pay, unsupervised), volunteers at the local nursing home, helps out the paid babysitters during school PAC meetings, helps with set-up of community events, watches the door at concerts, things like that. If we lived in town I think she would be keen on things like dog-walking, weeding gardens, picking up mail at the post office for elderly neighbours. We have a 10-year-old unschooled friend who enjoys art and handicrafts and has gone into production with block-printed note cards, selling them at craft fairs. A couple of years ago my younger girls sold teas and candies at the community market. This is the age for lemonade stands and cookie sales at the end of one's driveway. It's also a good age for taking on responsibility for a new pet or livestock venture. For urban tech kids, I think animation, game modding, blogging and other forms of web-publishing can be new "independent" interests.

 

But these things are all particular to a child's interests and the family and community he or she lives in. It can take a while for a child to discover the possibilities and to be able to envision herself in this new more grown-up role. And most of this stuff is more goal-oriented and long-term than play. For some kids the ambition, imagination and organizational skills required to take on new things can take a while. And I don't think it can really be hurried. Possibilities can be offered, scaffolding can be provided to help with follow-through, but I don't think it works for a parent to direct the child towards one of these pursuits. In some ways I think it's the aimlessness that comes of losing interest in play that forms the fallow ground on which ambition and new responsibility take root. 

 

I've often explained to my kids that growing through these shifts is a bit like living through a home renovation: you know the end result is going to be cool and new and more functional, but in the meantime there's often a big mess that is a bit uncomfortable, and it can be hard to see how it's all going to settle out. But that's part of getting to a new and better place. I think it helps kids to hear that you believe them when they say that they're feeling kind of unhappy and aimless, but life sometimes has phases like this, and you are confident they'll find a way to come through it as happy, more grown-up people. I also think it's important for us parents to recognize this: we're not necessarily doing anything wrong, our children aren't necessarily losing their way or failing to thrive. Shifts are just sometimes a bit uncomfortable for a while.

 

Miranda


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Old 05-13-2013, 10:24 AM
 
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For urban tech kids, I think animation, game modding, blogging and other forms of web-publishing can be new "independent" interests.

 

--Yup, this is exactly where mine has been heading over the past year... 

 

For some kids the ambition, imagination and organizational skills required to take on new things can take a while. And I don't think it can really be hurried. Possibilities can be offered, scaffolding can be provided to help with follow-through, but I don't think it works for a parent to direct the child towards one of these pursuits. In some ways I think it's the aimlessness that comes of losing interest in play that forms the fallow ground on which ambition and new responsibility take root. 

 

I've often explained to my kids that growing through these shifts is a bit like living through a home renovation: you know the end result is going to be cool and new and more functional, but in the meantime there's often a big mess that is a bit uncomfortable, and it can be hard to see how it's all going to settle out. But that's part of getting to a new and better place. I think it helps kids to hear that you believe them when they say that they're feeling kind of unhappy and aimless, but life sometimes has phases like this, and you are confident they'll find a way to come through it as happy, more grown-up people. I also think it's important for us parents to recognize this: we're not necessarily doing anything wrong, our children aren't necessarily losing their way or failing to thrive. Shifts are just sometimes a bit uncomfortable for a while.

 

--And these two paragraphs are very helpful... I agree, and I think the discomfort with the shift is actually more on my end than my son's. I just sometimes feel like he moved away from toys and stopped playing when he was so very young. He's always been very adult in some ways though. I think the challenge for me is figuring out what I can help with and when to just get out of the way and let him be.

 


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Old 05-14-2013, 02:39 AM
 
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Very interesting thread. I tend to have the opposite situation in some ways. My 9 year old (10 at the end of summer) is still into playing with cardboard boxes. While other kids seem to be off spontaneously performing close textual comparisons between Christopher Marlowe and the lesser known Shakespearean sonnets, my kid is in the garden building landscapes for his little people out of mud. On the other hand, at age nearly 10 I've never yet heard him say "I'm bored". So it will be interesting to see how this one pans out. I think he will be quite frustrated by not having things he wants to do.

 

He does like math, science, etc and we do some of that, and a lot is directed by him, but that is very much a family interest.

 

I expect I shall be coming back to this thread :-)


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Old 05-14-2013, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yesterday I did a bit more directing, since I had some things for dd1 to do, if she wanted, and she did all of it.  We had to finish filling out camp registration forms (one page was for her to fill out), we finished the final badge requirement for a financial badge, instead of saying "when do you girls want to put the chicks in the day pen?" I said "Time to get the bitty-bods out".  I pulled the guitars out to tune and even played a little, but both ignored me.  I asked for help chopping carrots and potatoes, which dd1 answered.  I said we could finish decorating her butterfly feeder.  We did.  She got busy picking up some toys and wanted me to clean up, too, so I cleaned the bathroom.

 

I've tried being more of a "cruise director" before and she has rejected it, just like dd2 did all day yesterday until she had some ideas of her own she needed help with.  Yesterday, though, it clicked.  I'm wondering whether she wouldn't do well with more gentle direction from me, and of course me keeping busy with different things will help.  She still enjoys her bike when I'm out in the garden than the actual gardening.  She does seem to need help finding things to do without her sister, and to do more "purposeful" projects that I think would satisfy her more deeply at this point.  

 

I do want to prioritize her dress design.  I'm holding off because it is an enormous project and I've told her that, but I still feel like I'm going to buy all this stuff I can't return and it won't get finished unless I do all the work.  Also, it is out of my comfort zone to produce this dress, but I can handle that, I think.

 

Anyway, yesterday was really nice (and zero fighting, BTW!)  She continued to do work on her "horse list" project, which has spelling and writing in the spotlight as well as more reading.  She just seemed a bit more relaxed and content.  And I seemed more relaxed that I was available for both of them to work on their ideas.  I didn't do a whole lot, but I was available and that made me feel better.  I even prioritized my own interests--playing the guitar, stretching out to read before making dinner--which felt indulgent.  Hopefully the the few days will work out similarly.

 

fillyjonk, even though it is still too early to say, but I suspect that dd2 has a good chance of being just like your son.  She still has uses for some of our old toddler toys (which, granted were pretty good ones) and I can picture her being 10 and playing in the sandbox!


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Old 05-14-2013, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And today, I got that day at home. Believe it or not, it was the first day since we moved here 1 year ago that I've been at the house by myself!  Now we live where I could do some naked kick-line style dancing out in the yard and no one would ever notice, but I kept it inside and fully clothed.  Resisted the urge to put on dance music, though I did indulge when my Glenn ****** CD (Army Air Force 4-disc set!) played In The Mood and Song of the Volga Boatman back to back.  I never get to play that music with people home.  Started out singing/playing the Delovely soundtrack, fitting because it starts in "I feel the sudden urge to sing......" and I do and am not too bad, except I can't hold the notes or have them sound nice as the note softens and lingers, but I don't care and that's why I like singing at home by myself.  Julie Andrews?  Why the hell not!?  Belt it out mama, and never mind making an ass out of yourself and forget that your throat will be sore tomorrow... hit those notes!  (Or try!)  Rounded it off with Mozart's Requiem, a piece of music that has the habit of bringing me close to tears in parts (music does that to me... it's odd!  And it doesn't have to be big, swelling classical.)

 

Anyhoo, back to the regularly scheduled thread!

 

ETA:  I almost forgot to mention I got a huge chunk of the house cleaned and organized.  Nice to have had the bathroom cleaned yesterday, and dh did a fair amount of housework on Mother's Day, which gave me a leg up.  Had the table cleared of projects and ready for dinner when everyone arrived home.

 

The girls coming home were encouraged to put their gym bags on the bench by the door, shoes in closet, and are eager for clean up time each day.  (We'll see!)  Fun how motivating a clean house is.  So, what shall I start on tomorrow? I want to dive straight into a batch of cupcakes and I bet they will too!


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Old 05-14-2013, 10:27 PM
 
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Fun how motivating a clean house is. 

 

This is so true in our home.  If the house is clean and organized, it is much easier for the kids to keep up with their stuff.  Hanging their jackets up seems to come more naturally to them if all the other jackets are hung up.  If the jackets are on the floor/chair/table, then theirs is highly likely to end up there too -- for that matter, mine too.

 

Now, if I could only keep the house clean and organized on the daily basis (hahaha! right.)

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Old 05-15-2013, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's that "daily basis" that's the killer!  But I'm already signing dh up for another day like today no later than one month from now.  We'll see if this can impact both moods and my willingness to play with projects alongside them.  Hopefully that can also focus dd1's mind and help her find something engaging to do.


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