Today, Theo went back to school after his long Winter Break. He was not exactly enthusiastic since school can be a struggle for him, having to sit still trying to pay attention all day, feeling that he’s not smart because he finds math hard, and not understanding why on earth he has to do homework. Of course, we try to make sense of all of this to him, but he’s not buying our explanations. At the grand age of 9 years old, he would much rather be playing video games or hanging out with his friends. For parents who were fairly driven academically, this attitude can be hard to fathom, but we try to remind ourselves that children develop at their own pace and we should be patient. This doesn’t stop me, though, from trying to push him harder than he would like with his schoolwork and checking in with his teachers regularly about his performance in school.
His main teacher this year is a young Japanese American teacher called Mrs. Chan (her husband’s background is Chinese). When I approached her at the start of the school year about my concerns, she didn’t treat me like an anxious helicopter parent but instead listened carefully, and over the first term, she clearly made an effort to understand how to get the best work out of Theo. She has suggested books for him to read and has encouraged him with his creating writing. She has also been happy to let Theo stay after school in her classroom and finish his homework there before coming home. In the one term that he has been with her, we have had a couple of firsts: 1) I’ve had to ask him to stop reading and come and have dinner. 2) He has worked on a writing assignment longer than the allotted time he was required to spend on it. To some parents, especially of high-achieving children, this may not seem miraculous, but to us, it is a sign that connections are being made and interests are budding. And I am thankful to Mrs. Chan for her willingness to work with us and for her thoughtful encouragement of Theo.
This afternoon, Theo was starting his homework in his room, and I realized his math book was missing. Instead of getting annoyed, I decided to leave him doing his other homework and run back to school and pick it up for him. This is not something the parenting books usually recommend, but today I wanted to catch Mrs. Chan before she left and give her a thank you gift – a present for her baby. I told Theo my plan, and he chose one of his teddy bears to give her daughter. He then surprised me by saying, “And you can blog about this today.” At the end of the day, I am left with two thoughts: 1) That there are very few things in our lives more important and life-changing than a good teacher, and 2) Our son is learning, and he will be fine.