Rough day…great night.
Last week Tucker had a math test. He has existing self-esteem (I can’t do it) issues (reread Day #241 – Flowering Self Esteem). I struggle with this because I truly believe in the power of positive thinking. It drives me CRAZY that he talks about failing before he even takes the test.
So…I went double time on him last Thursday/Friday. I bribed him to repeat, “I will do good on my math test.” By the time Friday morning came he was saying it on his own. I sent him 24 positive and encouraging emails in 90 minutes.
He sent me a message after the test, “The test went okay. I think I did okay. ps – mom thanks for the encouragement.”
My heart melted…maybe, just maybe, this positive thinking could now be a learned skill.
Today when I picked him up he sat in the back seat. I looked in the rear view mirror and tears were flowing down his face. I was shocked. I asked what was wrong. “Mom, I went in thinking I could. I should have known better.’ It turns out he didn’t do well on his math test.
First, damage control on the ‘dumb boy’ comments.
Second, damage control on the ‘stupid kid’ comments.
Third, damage control on the ‘worthless’ comments.
Here is what I know. There is no point in talking about the test. There is not point in asking what went wrong – at this point he is so overcome with emotion and negative thinking it wouldn’t do any good.
I left him alone while I weeded flower beds. I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to get very intentional and real about this test not showing his worth as a human (see Day #169 – My Child is Not a Honor Student). Something concrete – something where we don’t just talk, but we do.
After supper we sat down and talked about all of the personal qualities that are important but cannot be tested.
State of Mind
Of course, there are many more – but this is the list we developed.
Then I told the children about my own test taking anxiety. I told them that tests make me feel awful and sad. I told them that I love art. They laughed and said, ‘duh.’ I asked them if they knew why. Their answers?
Because you like to be creative
Because you like to get messy
Because you like all colors (except brown)
Because you like to do things with your hands
Because you smile
All good reasons – but I said to them, “I love doing art because you can’t be wrong. It’s impossible to be wrong when you create art. You can do something wrong and just try again…usually as many times as you want…until it looks the way you want. Art is beautiful because it comes from your heart and your brain. Art is perfect, just the way you do it and when you mess it up, sometimes it ends up even better!”
So. We created art.
Word art – we picked scrapbooking card stock styles and each of us chose a word from the list above – all of the qualities that are super important but cannot be tested. Then, each of us decorated a panel and put them into the salvaged window. What a mood and attitude changer. Talking about what we do well, sitting together, listening to music, smiling, and most of all – encouraging each other when we want to start over on our square. We did not mention that pesky test…not even once.
Now – just a place to hang our creation as a constant reminder that we, as a family, recognize there is more to EACH one of us than a grade on a test.
Tucker came up with the word feelings,
“I’ll never be tested for my feelings – but I’d do awesome because I really understand them.”
That is beautiful.