Saturday, November 19, 2011


I have a sensitive child. Under most circumstances, other adults see her as a great, confident kid with a mind of her own. But once in a while, her feelings get hurt, and you have no idea ahead of time what might set her off.

This week was a good one for not being terribly upset if she missed a math problem. It's too soon to rejoice, but perhaps we've made it through that block. But I'm still trying to work around it when possible... her issues of sensitivity and crying because of hurt feelings on things that should be able to roll right off her back. The days where it manifests itself I alternate between being so frustrated I want to pull my hair out and so grateful she's actually not in public school where tears make one a target. Then of course I start second-guessing myself and wonder if it's not just a show for Mom, maybe if she were in "real school" she wouldn't be a target after all, but would have learned how to deal with all this crap by now. But of course I go back to remembering what kids are like, and her feelings are so genuine, I know it would be the same thing there, only with a larger audience.

I never spent much time making Shannon do repetitive letter worksheets when she was learning how to write. She didn't have the patience or interest, I didn't have the patience. Plus, my own handwriting ranges from merely embarrassing to completely illegible, it's even hard enough for me to slow down to make "good" letters for her to copy. Or so I justified myself back then. It shows in her writing, though. She's simply not one for big round loops and tall backs, even spacing and proper capitalization. Every unit we do in literature where she has to write in her journal, I've been adding one more "rule" to follow. Every time so far, she has resisted the implementation of the rule, but by the end of the three weeks, she has (completely on her own) compared that week's questions with the ones from the unit before, and remarked how much easier it is to read, and how I was right. ;-)

Today I was planning for next week's tasks, and I thought we'd spend a day working on her handwriting a bit, which is why I bring this all up. Last week at Staples, I picked up a "Third Grade Handwriting" book, with the specific intent to teach cursive. Instead, I wrote out the whole Aa Bb Cc alphabet in good old block printing. Well, I made the mistake of leaving it out on my desk, and as she was getting ready to say goodnight tonight, she spotted it. "What's this?" Mistake #2 of the night, I told her. Apparently an offhand "We're going to spend a day for reading working on your handwriting a bit," wasn't soft enough for her. Mistake #3, I expounded, waxing poetically on my own mother's handwriting, wishing that mine were like it, and maybe with a little work, Shannon's could be; that if I'd practiced more as a kid, I could have, but since I didn't, well, she's seen my writing. Was that enough? Nope, she still took it as a direct criticism of her writing (which, truth be told, is pretty bad for a 9 year old) and went off to get her pajamas on in tears. She came back out for her last hug, and told me I'd made her sad.

So all you education types out there, what specifically am I doing wrong? Is it just because I'm Mom? Or would she be this way for anyone? How can I get her to make a goal to be better at something without her hearing it as she's not good enough?

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