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One Cobble at a Time

Witnessing Kiki’s Homework Struggle

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Witnessing Kiki’s Homework Struggle

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responsible woman

I watched Kiki working on a jigsaw puzzle. She’d been working on it for an hour and bedtime was near. I knew she had homework. I knew it was not done. It was only a couple of days ago that I made an agreement with her that I would not be pushing her on her homework or preventing her from failing. The puzzle was avoidance. She was headed for failure, not by choice but by default. I thought very carefully before I said a word. I really do need her to be taking responsibility for her own homework. I need that for my own sanity, but also because she needs to learn how to be responsible. She needs to know how to track time and make plans without me standing at her elbow reminding her that she should. I chose to make a general reminder to all the kids in the room that they should do their homework if they had any. Link piped up that he didn’t. Kiki crumpled and the tears began.

Our conversation lasted over an hour. It was very hard for me to not jump in and offer solutions. It was even harder for me to not try to guide her toward what I could see as clearly the right decision. My purpose in the conversation was merely to act as a foil. Occasionally I commented on which lines of thought were adult and which were like a child. This adult/child comparison is part of a larger conversation that she and I have had over the course of several days. It was actually a helpful and informative part of the conversation rather than me applying labels. I watched and listened as Kiki worked her way through a forest of emotions. I watched her wend her way through anger and denial. She paused briefly at the desire for someone else to make her do her homework so that the homework would be done and she would have someone to be mad at. Then she recognized this as childish and moved onward. Eventually she cleared away her anger enough to see that she really is at fault that this assignment is late. She accepted that responsibility. This led to the further knowledge that she really does want to go to college and that this assignment will make or break her grade in that class. More immediately, there is a class she wants to take for which this class is a pre-requisite. Finally she sat down and did the assignment.

Watching the process was like watching someone do long division when I am possessed of a calculator. It took Kiki a highly emotional hour to arrive at the same conclusion I reached in less than a minute. But because the process was hers, she learned from it. All that sorting and digging through her own emotions taught her things about herself. It showed her how costly procrastination can be. She is a stronger, more mature person than she was while doing the puzzle. In the middle of it, when I was not sure to what end her path would lead, I worried. Now I see that my worry was needless. Kiki is amazing, smart, and able to discern what she needs to do even when she doesn’t like it.

Mirrored from onecobble.com.

  • Future career?

    I just wanted to chime in that you may have a future career as a counselor or therapist. Kiki is blessed to have a mother who is capable of acting as a sounding board, rather than a drill sergeant. You are absolutely correct that the agonizing process of reaching the right conclusion yourself (with a mature, trustworthy aide to confirm it, rather than provide it at the outset) is far more beneficial than simply being herded in the right direction.

    Thanks for a beautiful post which echoed my own recent experience (though from Kiki's side, alas).
    • Re: Future career?

      Thank you. It is good to have independent confirmation that my handling was correct.

      Therapy does have some appeal as a career, but it will have to wait in line behind Mother, writer, and friend.

      Good luck finding your way to paths that take you where you want to go.
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