Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Marching to the beat of a different drum

There is one in every family. I am talking about the child that marches to the beat of his own drum. The one that makes you nervous when he is quiet because you just know that he is into something and that isn't a good thing. The one who experiments with cause and effect by flushing a toy down the toilet. The one who insists on wearing the same shirt three days in a row just because. The one who wears boots with shorts (much to the chagrin of his mother), and doesn't discriminate between fireman rain boots and cowboy boots. The one who hurries through everything except for when you want him to hurry. The one who wants to do it his way and will not budge.

In our family, that child would be Harrison. I have come to accept that he is going to try to do things his own way and in his own time. For the most part, I can work with that. That attitude has unfortunately carried over into his schoolwork. Harrison doesn't like to do school work. It is much worse at home than at school where no amount of prodding or bribing will convince him that he needs to sit still and do his homework. At school, he is under the influence of his peers so he does make an effort, however small it may be.

Last Friday, Harrison had his first spelling test. We spent the week reviewing the words which all ended in "at" but each began with a different sound. We started with "at" then progressed to cat, then rat. Then I said okay what word is next, pointing to sat and Harrison looked at me and said "That the word is satisfied". So after I finished banging my head on the table, we went continued with the rest of the words. I could tell that the attention span was waning so I hurriedly pointed to the next word (which was pat) and asked Harrison what that word was and he shrugged his shoulders and said "You tell me."

So on Friday, I was a bit nervous about whether Harrison would even write one of the words but when he brought home his paper, there was a 100 written at the bottom of the paper. Upon closer inspection, here's what I saw:

Harrison had actually written the word hat, eight times. Note that his teacher told him that it was "very fine hat writing". I guess they get an "A" for effort. When I asked him why he wrote the word hat all those times he just shrugged and said "Can I watch some t.v. now?"

His teacher is a wonderful British lady (very Mary Poppins) who has an extremely large amount of patience with the children. Today we received Harrison's progress report. I scanned through the marks concerning his language, literacy and mathematics abilities (much as I expected) and social, emotional and gross/fine motor skills (much better than I expected).

I turned over the report to read the teacher's comments (isn't this what the mother of a precocious child dreads?). I always brace myself just in case. His teacher said that Harrison was a "friendly boy who takes an active role in boisterous, good-natured playground games" (breathing a sigh of relief that he isn't beating the other kids up) and who "excels at building" (maybe an architect in our future?). Continuing on, she comments that he has to work harder at his writing than the others because he is left-handed (having had 2 other lefties, that was no surprise). Her last comment though is what underscores my concern for Harrison's "do it my way and in my time attitude". His teacher points out that Harrison is making gradual progress...."although at this point has a strong preference for working at his own pace".

So while it would be easy to get frustrated, I choose to look at it from a different perspective. Harrison marches to the beat of a different drum. He sees things differently than the rest of us. And that's okay. That's what makes him unique. So the best thing I can do for him is to continue to encourage him to find his way, and to keep marching to that beat. And one day I think he will show us all that he was doing it his way, in his own time and that it worked out okay.