Saturday, January 11, 2014

Angels on my shoulders

In cartoons, when a character is torn between his conscience and what he wants to do, there is always an angel in white and a demon in black or red on either shoulder whispering.

This is how I've felt, this first full week of school; not so much a demon taunting and tempting me to do something I really desire but a crazy controlling mom with helicopter rotors on her head (read: crazy) whispering and speaking directly to the neurotic, worried, anxious mama in me. At the same time, the zen mom on the other shoulder whispering, slightly louder, that I should let the twins figure things out for themselves.

Thankfully, there haven't been people trying to steal their lunch money but there have been enough situations present that make me want to step in and help them. But that would be against my better judgement. It would make things easier for them, solve their problems for them but they won't be any wiser for it.

Scenario 1

So Evan tells me his allowance is insufficient. We give him $2 but we stipulate that he must come home with at least one coin in his wallet. Iin other words, he is not allowed to spend the whole $2. Anyway, a plate of his favourite char siew rice is $1. He has also fallen in love with the Milo ice blended which is ridiculously priced at $1.50 (I'm not going to start on how ridiculously expensive his canteen food is!). So he wants more money.

Crazy Helicopter Mom wants to give him more money. It isn't his fault that the school canteen is expensive. He shouldn't need to go hungry.

Zen Mom says no. $2 for a Primary 1 kid is sufficient pocket money. And he needs to figure out how to budget. He can't have everything. If he wants the Milo, he can't have the char siew rice. If he wants the char siew rice, he needs to just drink water. In short, he needs to learn how to make decisions. 

The compromise- He has to plan ahead. If he wants the Milo, he needs to tell me ahead of time and I'll pack him a sandwich so that he doesn't need to buy a rice dish. That way, he isn't hungry, he's had his Milo but he isn't broke.

Scenario 2
Jordan tells me that one of the few girls whose name she knows in class is the girl beside her. I ask if she likes the girl. She nods affirmatively but then adds on "She is always angry at me and always scolds me." I ask if she knows why and she shrugs.

Crazy Helicopter Mom wants to march to school and find out why this girl keeps scolding my daughter and wants to tell Jordan to go play with other people. She wants to go and get the teacher to intervene on Jordan's behalf.

Zen Mom says no. Let her fight her own battles and let her figure out how to deal with unpleasant people in class. She might also be, in her clueless way annoying the girl so she has to realise that and stop.

There was no compromise. I just left it. As a teacher, I knew that the teacher wouldn't appreciate being asked to play UN between two girls on an inconsequential situation. I didn't want to tell the teacher how to do her job.

Scenario 3
Jordan has inherited my gene for loving everything there is in the book shop. She tells us that she spent all of recess queuing at the book shop to buy a sketch book, a pink one at that, but she never got the book because the bell went before she got to the front of the queue.

Crazy Helicopter Mom was upset that she had wasted all her time queuing at the book shop and that she didn't have time in her precious 30 minute break to play.

Zen Mom (well, this time channeling Packrat) reminds me that we all went through that and it is one recess in a whole lifetime more of recesses.

The compromise- We've stipulated that they are not to buy stuff from the book shop any time they want to. But with all the money they bring home and save through the month, they can choose to buy one thing a month with their savings. I tell Jordan that she is to find out how much the sketch book costs and save towards it. And when Packrat or myself go and pick her up, we will queue with her after school to buy the sketch book. That way, she gets her recess, she learns to save up for what she wants and the crazy helicopter mom in me gets to control what she buys from the book shop.

Scenario 4
I volunteer at Evan's school during chapel. They have put me in charge of a class not his. Their rationale is we are there to serve the school, not our kid. Fair enough. But when we entered the hall for that first chapel, I realised that there weren't any P1 boys there. They were all in class, being escorted to the hall by their teacher. So he was all alone. Being new, he didn't want to sit alone in the empty row. He wanted to hang with me while I got briefed.

Crazy Helicopter Mom wanted to pull him onto her lap. Any extra time to hug and cuddle is always good.

Zen Mom told me to just leave him, tell him to take out his book and read till his classmates trooped in. Sitting quietly and reading never killed anyone.

The compromise- I told him I was going to get briefed and had to look after another class. I told him he could read quietly and he wanted to look for me, he could turn around and wave.

It is hard letting the twins grow up and fighting their own battles. They are no longer in the sheltered confines of kindergarten where everyone is looking out for them. As a mom, that's a hard thing for me to do because I want to protect them. But I have to and Packrat, the voice of the Zen mom on my shoulder reminds me that we aren't going to always be there and the only way they grow is to fight, and sometimes fail, these battles by themselves.


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