Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Lately - I've been feeling sort of angry about unschooling.
Jonah has been, for lack of a better term, bratty.
I don't mean to be a jerk about it, but his back-talk, angry outbursts, inappropriate affection with strangers, hyperactivity, and general not wanting to do anything is really getting to me.
I am trying.
I know that he is a person. I know that he is his own person and that I need to be supportive, but I've been thinking that maybe Jonah needs something else. He wanted to read a book with me today, so we started off. He said that he would read the first sentence on each page and then I would read the rest, which was totally great for this book. But when he got to a word he didn't know, he had a complete breakdown. I told him we would stop reading but he didn't. want. to. stop. He wanted to keep going and he didn't want me to tell him the word. So I waited. And waited. And waited. He cried - big tears rolled down his cheeks. He smacked himself on the forehead and said "I don't know it!" I told him we could stop, "I do NOT want to stop!" After about five full minutes of total breakdown, he would just say the word and go on. When he would finish a sentence I would say "that was really good, Jonah!" and he would FREAK OUT.
"Do NOT tell me 'good'. Just go on with reading." I tried not to, but I still slipped a couple of times. Why didn't he want me to tell him he did a good job?
When we finished the book he wanted to do it again, but he wanted to read the last sentence this time. I was worried. I sat him down on my bed and I asked him if he thought he could read. He has been going around saying "I can't read" for the last few months, even while reading the word "sanitize" on the dishwasher. He said, "No." I took him by the shoulders and looked into his face, "You CAN read, Jonah. You just read all of those sentences in this book."
"But I made some mistakes, Moma." He looked away.
I moved to look into his eyes, "Jonah, you DID it. You CAN read. Everyone makes mistakes. I make tons of mistakes. Just because you have to think about it or you make a mistake doesn't mean you can't read. You CAN read." He looked away.
"Can you read?" I asked.
"CAN you READ?"
"Say: I can read."
"Just say it one time."
"I can read." he mumbled in a baby voice.
"Say it again."
"I can read."
"One more time!"
"I can read!"
"Okay, now let's read this book."
The first several pages were amazing. Truly. He read every sentence fluently. Then, about ten pages in, he started stumbling over words he had already read several times. Reading words like "surprise" and then stumbling over "that" or "and".
"Do you want to stop?" I asked.
"NO!" He burst into tears. I didn't know what to do. I just gave him a big hug and rubbed his back. He tried again and again on the word "what", getting it wrong, saying "went" time and time again.
"Jonah. What is that word?"
"Wh....wh...wend. Went..I don't know it." Tears.
"You DO know it. It's not 'went'. What is the word?"
"It's not went. Try it again."
"If you say 'went' again I'm going to stick your head in the toilet."
He cracked up laughing. "What."
He screamed. "I don't want you to say that!"
"I'm sorry. I was excited that you got it."
"I don't want you to say it, Moma."
It took us two hours to read the book twice. I am completely drained.
When we finally finished, Jonah came downstairs and got some oatmeal for himself and asked me if I would put the water in. I did so, and then put the oatmeal in the microwave to cook. He freaked.
"WHY ARE YOU COOKING IT?!?!"
"I was helping..."
"I ONLY wanted you to put the water in!" ARGGGGHHH!"
"I have to do everything myself because you always help more than I ask you to help."
I didn't say anything. I went upstairs and got some laundry together.
A few minutes later...
"I need your help."
I put my hands on my hips, I couldn't help it, "I thought you didn't want me to help you anymore - I thought you were going to do everything yourself."
"Sorry, Moma, I was just being a little bit crazy."
I laughed, "I guess we're both a little bit crazy sometimes." Hugs. Laughter.
Some moments have worked out better than others.
Other times I'm just stumped.
Today at the library he was acting like a maniac - running around, jumping off of things, screaming. I tried to talk to him about the library. He KNOWS how to act at the library.
He's just SO overexcited. SO emotional.
And the meanness - nothing I make for dinner is good enough. He's been resorting to violence with his sister when he doesn't get his way. Very demanding - "do this for me", "I want this" "I wish this wasn't so..."
I don't know if I'm describing it very well.
He was in trouble with his coach twice at swim team practice this week. He climbed all over a friend of mine when she came to our house for a meeting. He barely knows her. We talked about expectations. He still adopts complete stranger moms at the playground or the library and asks them to "watch me!" or "look at me!" I feel like he needs more attention - that's what the behavior says to me, but I am giving him attention what feels like all. the. time.
I talked to my mom on the phone about it today and she said that maybe he needs more structure. Maybe he needs to go back to school. Maybe he's not ready for all the freedom we're giving him. Maybe he's bored.
I don't know what to think. I thought this whole unschooling thing was for the best, but lately, I'm not sure. I want to do the best thing for Jonah. I want his health and happiness. I'm so tired. And so confused.