Do Better December 3rd 2014

3 Dec

The Profound Short Sleep
I apologize that there is no audio today, but I made a mistake and it cost me the opportunity to record this post. Stuff happens, but I hope you’ll read on…

Last night something profound happened in my home, and I didn’t realize it until I was thinking about what to write this morning. I thought about sharing how tired we all are from staying up way too late to finish a project with my youngest son. I thought about telling you how I plan to persevere through the day. I thought today was a lesson about making choices, and in some ways it is, but in an even bigger way, today is about recognizing the Divine gift wherever it may show up.

A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son was floundering miserably in ninth grade. He was behind in every class. He was failing to turn in assignments and failing the ones he did turn in. He ended the first quarter badly and started the second quarter worse. I sent a panicked email to his counselor thinking at least I got it off my chest, and I began to seriously entertain the notion of home schooling my very distractible boy. I didn’t expect what happened next. Not only did the counselor respond to my email, she asked to talk with me, and when she did, she suggested a team meeting and other options to help my son. It was the first time that had ever happened. Usually I had to deal with things on a teacher by teacher basis and here is this woman offering to gather everyone up into one place and get a plan in place for my son. That alone seemed like a miracle. The other thing she asked was that my son be there to be a part of the process. That was also something new and something I welcomed because I knew he would respond better to their direct input than my relaying a message. To make a very long story, very short, my son came away with so much positive input from his teachers about his abilities and several strategies for dealing with his challenges in the classroom and with homework, but we had been here before and I wondered if any of it stuck.

One of the strategies we worked on was a calendar, if not for him, for me. I love the visual of a calendar and if I was going to be able to help him effectively, I knew I had to see all of his homework in one place. Another thing we decided is that, for the most part, when my son is doing homework, someone needs to be in the room with him, preferably with the TV off in the living room. In just a few nights of doing that, my son had caught up with almost all of his work, or so I thought. A month ago, his history teacher had assigned a family heritage project. My family has done extensive genealogical research, and it would have been easy to pick one of my family members as the focus of the project. My son chose one of my husband’s family members instead, so I put the project in the hands of my husband and son and pretty much forgot about it. This past weekend, we found out how far behind my son had gotten. My husband, never having been in charge of a project like this with any of our children, assumed things were getting done. My son, never having been assigned a project of this magnitude without close supervision, didn’t realize how encompassing the project was, but when he found out that he could get extra credit, he decided that he wanted to hammer the project out and get the extra 8 points, just in case he fell short elsewhere. This, in itself, was a minor miracle. This child has never wanted to turn in a project early, no matter what the incentive, so we encouraged him to get moving and do what he could to finish early. We figured if he came up short, at least he would have it ready to turn in on time rather than late as he had done so many times in the past.

You may be wondering by now what the point of all of this is, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll get to it soon. You see, our son really did get to work. He listened to us about schedules and added his own input about which assignments he felt he should do and in which order. He actually finished other homework that was due so he didn’t fall behind in his other subjects. He worked on other assignments that were more long term in little chunks, but the kicker came last night. As we were helping him trim and mount his pictures and information for his history project on a tri-fold board, we realized he was missing some very important things. It was 10:00pm, and we were all tired. We suggested that he had done a great job and that he could finish up the next day and be good to go. He decided he wanted to keep cranking. We knew he would never be able to stay focused for that long if he were left alone, although he would do his best to get it done. We knew that we could help him trim and mount the items on the board while he was finding more information because we figured that we weren’t working on content, just the busy work. Most important, though, at the meeting we had with his teachers, we all told him we would help him in any way we could to help him be successful, so tired got pushed aside as we watched our boy produce item after item for us. He never wavered in his commitment to finish and finish he did at 1:00am.

We went to bed exhausted. We’re still exhausted, and frankly, I really wanted to whine about that here this morning. I wanted everyone to feel some sympathy for me and take part in my little drama, especially since I have to be out of our home all day to have braces removed, drop a car off to be repaired and make a trip to the airport which is at least an hour round trip. Blah, blah, blah. Whine, whine, whine. It was while I was composing that in my head that something touched my heart. Last night I witnessed a giant leap in my son’s journey to maturity. No matter what the obstacle, he never gave up, even when his parents wanted to. For the first time I can remember, my son set a goal and worked hard to achieve it, and even though it may or may not be the best project in the grade, it is his best work and that’s something we haven’t always seen. Last night showed me that my son is progressing. Last night gave me hope that my son is beginning to understand what life is all about, and even though we are all tired today, I will gladly give up some sleep to witness the passage of a child into young adulthood. With credit to his teacher, who inspired my son to step up his game and his counselor who created the forum for my son to begin to take responsibility for his work, I am in awe of what happened in my home last night. I hope it is the beginning of great things for my son. I hope it is the spark that shows him he is capable despite his ADHD challenges. I hope. I rejoice, and I move forward, because I like the view.

I know that so many people, even if they love the season that is upon us, struggle with things much bigger than this. Goodness knows I’ve been one of those people, but the lesson that was brought home again for me last night is that there are blessings everywhere. Sometimes you don’t see them when you’re in the moment, but they’re there, waiting for your awareness to catch up. I hope you all catch up with your blessings today and see the grace in your journey, and as you do that, also do one task you don’t think about very often. Clear off the top of your refrigerator. Clean the baseboards in your bedroom. Throw away all of the empty bottles in your bathroom and those you will never use, like the bath salts that make you sneeze or the body powder you got seven years ago as a gift. Give yourself the gift of less clutter and a cleaner home and you’ll bless yourself and your family with more than you know. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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5 Responses to “Do Better December 3rd 2014”

  1. Chris Toy Seal December 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    I like reading better than recordings anyway.

    • karenbemmes December 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      You are part of the inspiration to post here as well as record Chris. I appreciate that you shared that with me.

  2. Catherine December 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    It is so amazing to me, how when funneled, ADHD energy, can be so hyper focusing. I am so glad that your son has tapped into that. I know for myself seeing the good in the everyday can get buried in the frustrating so congrats on acknowledging his accomplishment!

    • karenbemmes December 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Thanks Catherine. We’ve seen the hyper focus before with video games and even occasionally while reading. This is the first time with school work, and it was amazing how he funneled (great term) his energy into the project.

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