Friday, September 10, 2004

Zen Parenting

Siddhartha found enlightenment at age 35. Why then, at the age of 48 am I not even close?

Son 1 has been a challenge since birth. Have you ever known a child to begin hating school in kindergarten? He did. By seventh grade he had all but given up on school, barely squeaking into the eighth grade. Constantly in trouble, he was expelled from school within the first month of 8th grade, wound up at an alternative school and failed. We tried summer school. He was expelled from summer school within 2 weeks. Repeated the 8th grade, arrested twice in the first month and a court appearance set for February.

At the court appearance he told the judge that it was just too much trouble to go to school. I was momentarily distracted and never saw them whisk him from the room. Next I saw him he was wearing an orange jump suit.

A week in detention seems to have gotten his attention. He went to school every single day from February 26 until the end of school in June. He is now going to school every day and even showing an interest in making passing grades. Part of this is so he can get his learners permit to drive.

But lately it seems to be getting more and more difficult to get him out of bed.

Is the spell wearing off? Are we headed for disaster? How can I know when to apply the pressure and when to back off?

Each morning I drop him off at the bus stop about 15 minutes early. The day before yesterday he missed the bus. He had walked away and when he came back the bus had already passed him and wouldn't stop again. Of course it was a) the bus driver's fault for not stopping and b) the stupid other kids at the bus stop that didn't ask the driver to wait. It was not a) Son 1's fault or b) anywhere within a city block of Son 1's fault.

How do you get children to take responsibility for their actions? I'm accountable if I don't get the right cereal or the right jeans. But there's no accountability for making failing grades or having some idiot cop arrest you just because he doesn't like the way you break the law...

Does it help sometimes to just vent your frustrations in this venue? Is there hope for me as a parent?

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