We have a battle most mornings -- most school mornings. Our starts to the day can be a little strained, we are often working against the clock and mindful of doing things in the right order to avoid having to do them again.
It’s a battle of wills. Mine is a will for my son to do as many of these tasks on his own as possible, while he knows that I may cave in to speed up the process.
School highlighted that I may have assisted him more than perhaps I should have. It was obvious he was expected to be much more independent than he was being at home. Children were generally left to their own devices, tasks such as dressing and undressing as well as taking responsibility for all their PE kit were down to them on their own.
For ease and speed at home I would generally pull a t-shirt over his head, open the straps of his shoes and get a tissue for his permanently running nose. He didn't really have to concern himself with where his stuff lived either as I would tidy it away too.
I can remember being in the corridor near his classroom and overhearing his teacher asking him to put his coat on.
“It’s okay, my dad will do it,” he said.
Part of me admires him greatly for his manipulation. I am very much of the attitude that if someone is daft enough to do it for you, then why bother doing it yourself?
Doing him no favours
Shame it’s me who’s the daft one now.
But it isn’t just me that my child includes in his pampering entourage, the grandparents are much, much worse.
Just this weekend I turned my head to witness his grandmother feeding him his Sunday lunch.
I nearly knocked the fork out of her hand.
“You’re doing him no favours.” I protested.
Thing is, it is really frustrating, painfully so sometimes, to sit and watch a child take an age over something. But this, in my son’s case, is generally because he is not concentrating, or trying to do something else at the same time.
He puts on a great show, pretending to be upset at not being able to complete the task assigned to him quickly, hoping someone will take over.
But he now gets the how-will-you-ever-learn-to-do-it doctrine.
Granted, there are still times when he ‘wins’ but more often than not I insist he do things for himself, even if it makes us late for something.
Interestingly this week, while he was getting undressed for a bath, he told a story of how one of his older classmates had been teased because he couldn’t put his socks back on.
I explained it probably wasn't entirely fair to tease and that it probably wasn't this child's fault. And I emphasized that by being able to do these things for yourself you can eliminate the opportunity for others to taunt you.
His all-knowing grin told me he understood, and also that he is much more able than he lets on.