Friday, June 5, 2015

If I stop being that competitive mother…

Audrey just finished term 2 and we met the teachers… In general, Audrey has been progressing well in class, in short she's not teacher's pet but the teachers don't worry or have complains of her. Audrey did an average of 80+ for all her subjects..

But here's the confession.. she actually did slightly below average amongst her peers… And one of her friends, whose mother and I are good friends, did WAYYYY better than her...
Knowing that didn't make me feel good. Don't get me wrong, I didn't set her out to compete with every and any p1 girl. Ironically, if she comes home telling me that she's always trying to be better than her friends, I would be quite concerned and tell her to just focus on her own race with herself. So why am I uncomfortable?

The truth of the matter is, I am competitive (Okay.. I'm not that crazy to compete on whether my kids' poo smell nicer than others). It's like how my kids perform in school was an indication of whether I was a good parent or not. So to put it bluntly, it was really just my pride/ego being hurt. (Or in asian context, loss of face)

I took this week to actually revise with Audrey all the weak areas in math. I'm not sure if it's universal, but if your child is in p1, chances are she/he will have quite a bit of difficulty doing questions like these:
John has 5 apples. Mary has 4 more apples than John. How many apples do they have in all?

Somehow, Audrey sees "in all" and she just adds the two numbers. She sees it as a one step question since prior to this, she's been just doing one-step questions. If you are having problems with this type of question w your child, maybe you can try rewording the question to this… as a start to introducing to them that such questions are 2 step questions..

John has 5 apples. Mary has 4 more apples than John.
A) how many apples does Mary have?
B) how many apples do they have in all?

We tried solving the question with manipulative and it did seem to work for a while, but somehow without it, Audrey still hasn't managed to get the concept.
Egg carton with colored ping pong balls….

She managed to answer the questions correctly when she used the manipulative
But come the next day, when I tried again (without the manipulative), she got it wrong again. It went on for 2 days… it wasn't working. My patience was getting shorter. I couldn't understand why she couldn't understand it. It was painful for both her and me.
Fortunately, in comes the mister. He broke the question down for her… and in his own way (because he wasn't competing with anyone but focusing on her) he managed to get her to see it within 30 minutes (Darns! I lost to the mister too!

The mister got her to break the question down step by step… To be fair, I did it too…
But he made her write it out… I didn't
I suppose D and I knew it was a two step problem. Here's when NS did some good. Even if he knows she is smart, he is treating her as a fool. I know she is smart and I thought I could be lazy with the minor details like getting her to write it out step by step.
And because he managed to do it right…. He got A+ for review.
Seeing that she now is able to do the questions, made me feel proud of her but ashamed of myself. I was too eager to make her get a concept that I got impatient waiting for that "A-ha" moment. I wanted to achieve something (through her) and she wasn't enjoying the process… neither did i (trust me).

Truth be told, now upon reflection, I don't know why I was even competitive or who was I competing with. It's a thin line that I wanted the best for her, yet I was actually trying to mould her to make me look good. So my question to parents is… when you decide to send your child to enrichment classes… was it really for the kids' benefit… or yours? Think about it… 

A little treat for the little lady...
Of course every entry normally has a "happy" ending… I recognize that Audrey is a sweetheart who persevered and sat through another hour with me clearing her math concepts… and I brought her out for a surprise - Her favorite foot massage. (Guess a little bribery won't hurt.. :P)

What's my point? My point is this… I didn't achieve anything by being competitive. I didn't get any result by being over anxious or over zealous, in fact it went the other way. She's a child and I should go at her pace rather than she follow mine.

Trust me, it's easy to say (when your kids are younger or doing well) that you won't be such a parent… But… chances are 8 out of 10 of you will be… :) I hope after reading this… you will be the 2 though. 

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