This week Mythankfulboy and his friend O had a school project due on Animal Farm. They created a game the size of my dining room table (only a slight exaggeration), complete with an impressive popsicle stick, functional windmill in the middle and fencing between the rows of spaces. B’s and O’s sports schedules being opposite (one having practice until 5pm and the other having practice starting at 5:30), there was a long weekend day and a late evening spent on the project. It was fun to watch them, though, and the end result was good. Plus, I love me a good project.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that B made the baseball team. I suppose it’s not a terrible thing to also mention that, after a long lead-up to making cuts, they didn’t actually make any, so everyone made it. He was thrilled, regardless, and we celebrated. We’ve been talking a lot lately about working hard for the things we want – it’s not that I have to persuade him to work towards a goal, but more that there’s a certain amount of expecting things to be relatively easy and assuming that, if they’re not, he’s not meant to excel. He’s lucky, because things often do come relatively easily to him, but I think what we’re really talking about is that being really good at something rarely comes easily to someone, and even if it does come easily to other people, effort can sometimes bridge the gap. In a similar vein, we’ve been talking about not settling for a grade he gets if it wasn’t what he expected, but figuring out what he did wrong so he can do better the next time (asking a friend how s/he knew something was on the test and he didn’t, asking a teacher what he can do better on an assignment, asking for the opportunity to re-do an assignment, studying longer or in a different format). I’m not a mom who puts a lot of pressure, but I want him to know he has options, and that I think he can do as well as anyone out there. B has always had a realist’s view – he has always tended to say “I think I’m about the 5th-most-popular kid in my [elementary school) class” or “I think I could play second string at short or first in the outfield, but I’d be, like, third or fourth for catching”, and he says them in a pleased way. I think it’s really a pretty healthy approach to competition, but the mom (and the cheerleader) in me says to not let him accept his place, but to work to improve it. Sometimes parenting is full of fine lines.
So, last night, there were lots of little things to get done – homework, dinner, dishes, showers, bills – the usual. Then there was the clean-up from the Animal Farm project. B was willing, but distracted. I was tired and focused, and vacillated between amused and annoyed. When we settled down to do the chalice I was practically doing it with only one eye open. B was thankful for the project’s going well, and for my help. I was thankful for a cleared dining room table. Then, I made sure both eyes were open, and commented that I felt that our chalice lightings had been really rushed in this high school version where I tend to go to bed first. He agreed. I told him I would work harder to bring readings or videos, and maybe we should do them a little earlier in the evening. He crossed the room to sit beside me on the couch, and, at the last second changed his mind and lunged in for a hug that left him half-lying on the couch beside me and half-hanging there with his arms around my neck and his head on my shoulder. It was a little boy hug with a big boy body. I think it was a request to make sure we have the dedicated time to talk about our days and things that are important. I can do that.