September 09, 2005

Week in Review - Control Freak

Friday – 10:48 a.m.

Ahhhhh…the peace and quiet! I finally made it to my “office” today. This is the first time in two weeks I’ve been out of the house. If I’m forced to sit in at my corner desk one more day, with nothing but fake paneling to look at, I’ll go crazy. I know, I know, waah.

I want to scratch my eyes out. They are watering so bad today that my mascara is gelling with the salt in my tear ducts that it’s hardening and creasing in the cracks of my eyelids.

Sounds attractive, doesn’t it? Well, try dealing with that all day long. In addition, my nose is a virtual snot faucet today and I can’t go anywhere without an emergency Kleenex in my pocket. I don’t feel bad, just uncomfortable. I wish it would rain – wash some of this ragweed down the drains.

Okay, well I though it would be quiet. There’s a young girl with a small girl (not even two?) trying to find something about a water cycle. One of the librarians are helping her and they aren’t being quiet.

Pst…newsflash, this is a library! It amazes me how much people tend to forget that.

However, I’m out of the house so I can’t complain too loudly.

Last night was tough. Game Dude’s attitude has gone downhill. Not toward us (thank God) but toward school, he just hates it. It probably doesn’t help that we expect perfection from him. I know, we shouldn’t, he doesn’t need the pressure.

He had to make a map of his neighborhood. Being the control freak that I am, I showed him how to bring up a map of our neighborhood on Google. He pretty much copied that. The only problem is, he did a really sloppy job. His handwriting (which has never been the greatest to begin with) was really bad and to top it off, he misspelled neighborhood (neihborhood). And to make matters worse, he could care less. I think he’s lazy at heart and just didn’t want to take the time to look up the word and make sure he spelled it correctly.

Considering the project was due today and he didn’t have time to redo it (though technically, I should have made him and didn’t, but the reason I didn’t later), he found some white out and corrected it, in three different areas. So, it looked pretty bad. Then he colored in the field area but nothing else and his houses looked juvenile.

Normally, I would have helped him. Normally, I would have made him do it over regardless of the fact that it was due the next day and he would huff and puff the entire process. But I didn’t for two reasons:

What lesson am I teaching him if I help him make it better? He didn’t care to do a good job to begin with so why should I care for the both of us?
It’s the beginning of the school year so if he doesn’t get a good grade on this map (and I’m suspecting he won’t) then it’s not that big of a deal to make up the points.

I wanted to do this to teach him a lesson. He needs to learn that if he wants good grades he’ll have to work for it. And he does want good grades, it makes him feel good about himself and of course, he likes the praise we bestow on him when he does a good job. However, the problem is, he doesn’t want to work for it. He simply wants it handed to him on a silver platter.

I take the blame. This is my fault. I’ve babied him for far too many years. Especially when it came to written assignments. The writer in me simply WOULD NOT ALLOW him to turn in something shoddy. In essence, I “edited” his project; sometimes to the point it was unrecognizable.

I know, I wasn’t helping.

But I’m a control freak. I’ve always (well, maybe not always, but certainly later in my academic career) enjoyed doing big projects. It was fun to put something together from nothing, especially writing assignments. I approached it from the stand point that if I wanted to think of myself as a writer, then I needed to prove to everyone who read my work that indeed I was.

Why wouldn’t I want this for our children?

There were two aspects of the map that I was not sure how to approach. The scale and the grid. (I totally forgot what a map grid was). So, we asked Music Man. The first words out of Music Man’s mouth was, “That’s pretty sloppy.”

Needless to say, World War III broke out. But after I calmed down, he was absolutely right. I do have a tendency to sugar-coat the boys’ work. I guess it’s the mom in me but I can’t be overly critical of the boys – I don’t want them to give up before they ever really tried.

Music Man blurted that out before he thought. He was just so shocked to see the shape of the map. Game Dude usually does better work than that. I don’t blame him, I blame myself. It’s entirely my fault. If I want the boys to do good work, to take pride in their work, then I need to offer constructive criticism. They won’t learn if they don’t understand what they’ve done wrong.

I don’t seem to have this problem with Mushroom King. He’s a naturally curious boy and he is enthusiastic about his projects – in essence, he likes to learn. He has his moments, of course, but overall, he’s fun to do things with because he CARES. Game Dude does not.

How do you make a child care? Is that even possible? Sure, he gets upset when he sees he’s disappointed us, but if left to his own devices, he wouldn’t put forth much effort. Quite frankly, I’m tired of caring for both of us. He had such an attitude toward this assignment.

GD: “It’s only paper, mom.”

Me: “No, you can’t think of it like that. It’s worth 50 points. You’re doing this for the points. Don’t you want to get a good grade.”

GD: “Yeah.”

Me: “Well then…”

But was that the right approach? Is he doing this for the points or he is doing this because he needs to understand how a map works and where he is in the overall scheme of things? Would he care if I told him that? Does all of this matter in the long run? After all, can you think back to your middle school years? Did any of that affect you as an adult?

Sure, high school grades are important for college and I’m prepping him to be a conscientious student for those years ahead, but overall, does it matter if he gets A’s? He’s pretty much a straight B student. Shouldn’t I be happy with that? Aren’t I causing more harm than good for asking him to strive to be better? Shouldn’t a person want to do better?

It’s hard to find the balance.

The mom in me wants him to do good, to be proud of himself, to be proud of him. The control freak in me just simply wants to do it for him (NOT GOOD).

Yet the independent part of me wants him to do it on his own, to learn to do things on his own, to think for himself, to come up with solutions by himself.

This is really hard for me. We’re come to the crossroad in his life where I need to let go. He needs to learn from his mistakes. I need to LET him learn these lessons on his own. Am I the reason he doesn’t care? Because he knows there’s no pleasing me so why try? I can understand that mentality and I suppose the only reason why I’m not like that is because I’m such a perfectionist.

He’s growing up so fast. I can tell he wants to get away from me. I want him to grow apart from me, but I’m having such a hard time with this. Does anyone have any advice?

There is light at the end of this bleak tunnel. He turned in quite a hefty science project today, worth 75 points, and when I went through it with him, checking things off the checklist (which he wasn’t too happy with, “Mom, I don’t NEED your help.” I need to listen!!) I have to say, I was impressed. I edited his conclusion, which he wrote at home and by himself. He checked it to the requirements he needed in order to get the full 25 points and wrote it.
I was beaming as I read it. It sounded very logical and articulate. He did a really good job writing down his thoughts. I can’t help but take a little credit for that – if I hadn’t pushed him so much in past writing assignments, would he have done such a good job?

Last night was emotional and really tough. But I learned something and I hope Game Dude learned something too. I’m human, I make mistakes, but I want what’s best for him. I just need to learn to back away and let him grow up.

I’ve been searching for a larger flash drive. I currently have a 128 stick but it’s increasingly becoming too small for all of the projects I’ve been doing. (I like to load everything on my stick, go to my office, dump everything onto my notebook and work from there).

Best Buy and Circuit City had some sales but they weren’t very good deals – buy a 256 for $40 with a $17 rebate.

Music Man hates rebates because they are a pain to put together and then it takes forever to get back (it’ll take 8 weeks to get the rebate back on this notebook). So, I skipped out on buying one.

We all went flash drive shopping after dinner last night. We ended up at Staples because it’s next door to Wendy’s and we ate dinner there because they were having a fund raiser for the Katrina victims (eat there between 5 – 8 and they would donate 10% of the proceeds).

We walked over to Staples. We stumbled onto a great deal – a 512 MB flash drive for $29.94. That is by far the best deal we’ve run across. The only problem is, they were out.

Disappointing, but not the end of the world.

I went in search of the boys (they tend to wander) and when I got back, Music Man was talking to one of the associates. Yes, they were sold out. A manager happened to walk by just then and said, “But we can substitute that if you wish.”

WE WISH!

So, believe it or not, we bought a 512 MB Sony flash drive for $29.94!! C’mon, I dare you to beat that price! For a 512?? And what’s even cooler about this is that we can compress the information (the flash drive came with the compression program) and I’m actually capable of getting over 1 gig of information on this tiny (because it’s TINY) flash drive.

I LOVE IT!!

So now I have plenty of room to carry all of my projects around with me. I could put it on my keychain but the fastener is on the lid and I’m afraid it might come loose and I would lose my flash drive.

No way.

So, I’ll have to carry it around in my pocket or something. This shows up how much of a geek I am though – one of the reasons I love this thing is because it’s so cute! It’s so little!

I have a new pet. ;)

We plan on dragging our pop-up out this weekend and opening it up. I hope it’s held up for the past two years, no water damage, bug problems, etc. Other than that, we don’t have any big plans. I’ll probably end up working on the school project, I semi-promised the client I would have a couple of templates for her to look at in the next week. I have one ready to go and I’m working on the second one. I’d like to build a third. I want them to feel like they are getting their money’s worth.

It’s so cool I’m getting paid for this!

It’s tough to be creative though. It really tires me out. It’s hard to come up with something different, appealing, functional, etc. I just hope she likes what I’ve come up with and doesn’t turn her nose up at the three offerings.

Starting over from scratch would bite.

Everyone have a great weekend!

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