I messed up.
Levi and I started out his school year together. We did most of his Classical Conversations Challenge A lessons together for the first few weeks. I made sure his schedule and to-do list was written out and checked daily.
And then we both got distracted.
Other children do live at this house. And they need attention and education occasionally. I have things I need to do. And teaching an adolescent can be frustrating. So procrastination happens.
Oh, he can do this independently. He should be able to do that independently. Just let him get started on math, and he’ll figure out how to complete the rest of assignments as well. If he’s going to fight me on that, he can do it on his own.
And so on. [Right about this time last semester.]
Math, well, that’s important. And don’t get behind in Latin! Draw your maps. We’ll skip the outlining in rhetoric, but read the chapters and lessons. We missed two weeks of science research for various reasons, but just jump ahead to the current topic and write your paper.
Writing, hmmm. There are worksheets. Just fill them out. Oh, we’re way behind! Let’s just rush this paper today. [Much, much more about this in the next post.]
Turns out, my adolescent procrastinates as much as I do—and the most overwhelming or hated tasks are the ones he puts off.
We “got by” for the first semester until he had three classes within 8 days in December (due to a make-up class)—the end of the semester classes, no less—the same week as his choir performance week and then a few Christmas activities the following week when he was supposed to complete his final 1st semester work.
Then Christmas. And a New Year’s birthday. And a big family vacation—a missed week of class.
We were going to start our new year well. I didn’t know how tired I would be after vacation, that two days would not be enough time to prep for Monday and I would be so sick for the next week. So tired and sick. Not a great start to our new year. [Hello, Christmas tree still on my front porch.]
If momma isn’t on top of things, the kids in this house aren’t either. It’s a free-for-all. Sigh.
We ended a rough week with two days of swim meet in which all three boys were competing and Russ, who was also sick, was coaching.
During a long late Saturday afternoon and evening of sitting with Levi trying to get some of his work caught up for class on Monday, Lola managed to cut her tongue (hello, blood on her shirt and bathroom towels), chop off her hair (hello, bangs), and dump several cups of water in her room (because she was “painting” with water). [This is the moment I expressed my frustration on Facebook: “It seems I have to make a choice between educating my 13 year old and keeping my 4 year old alive. Forget the two in between; they’ll have to fend for themselves.”]
By Sunday afternoon, we were a mess. It was time to regroup.
Levi and I had a long conversation about why he was in Challenge A, why he was required to do the work. How Latin is valuable for many reasons, but the most important reason we are doing this hard work is to learn to do hard things. That if he learns nothing else in Challenge A, this skill (and character trait) will serve him for the rest of his life. [More about doing hard things in an upcoming post.] I asked him to be willing to try. To do his best. And I told him that right answers or being smart was not the most important thing.
I asked Levi what I could do to help him succeed.
He asked me to be diligent about filling out his schedule with exactly what needed to be completed each day. I made a commitment to him to do just that. In return, I asked him to look at the schedule, and do his best to focus on the work on the day’s list.
Then I asked him what subject he was struggling most in. “The Lost Tools of Writing” (he said with anguish). “I hate it. I hate writing. I can’t do it.” Then we’ll do that subject together, every day, first thing in the morning, I promised him…
[To be continued…]