Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting Past [The Game]

He won 2nd place in the cute category,
but that's not what I'm here to brag about.
He plays harder music than it appears by this photo, but....

James did not make a whole lot of progress on the piano this year. 

He made a little, but it seemed like he would go one step forward and then it was two steps back. He avoided new songs, practicing, and anything to do with actually LEARNING. I had a chat with the teacher one day about a month ago and asked, "How did he do in his lesson today?" 

She had a whole lot of good things to say about him, as usual, but some people struggle to be direct and upfront honest about their trials with certain students and have a habit of pointing out all the good things they can think about a kid before tagging on the hard part on the end if they work up the courage to do so. I have known this teacher a LONG time. She has been my girls' piano and violin teacher for more than 10 years. I encouraged her past the uncomfortable part of the conversation. She finally told me it was as if he had forgotten EVERYTHING she had ever taught him.

I said, "No, he hasn't. That's only what he would like you to believe."

This is the issue we have had from day one with both of the twins. 
They would love for you to believe they know nothing.
That way you will not be able to get them to exert ANY effort towards learning new things.
We call this behavior, "THE GAME". 
They know in my book it is plain dishonesty.

It shows up in reading, math, chores, memorization, you name it....
it's part of how they cope with life.
I say "COPE".... it's coping instead of really living.

That week he battled against Brianna who was supervising his piano practice. I handed her the baby and told her I would take over. I knew I may as well armor up for WAR,
but I figured it was time.

I sat by him and while he pretended he didn't know the next note I sat silently most of the time and waited for him to work it out. 

AND I mean I waited

5 hours!

I tried to help in several ways but it was clear he was lying and I needed to wait.
His supper waited on the table.
He cried. He kicked. He pouted.
He kept up the charade.

I started having him do jumping jacks
and runs to the greenhouse and back.
and pushing him a wee bit harder all the time.

I made it clear I knew he was lying and had been lying to his teacher as well.

{it just occurred to me that I might have written about this already.... but there's a reason to share it again.}

At about 10 PM he realized I was not going to let him off the hook
and he apologized and played all his songs correctly.
Partly he was too tired to carry on,
partly he understood what I had explained about the "father of lies" and his desire to ensnare James in his net, and partly he knew I was going to hold out as long as it took and he could end "The Game" at any time he chose.

Since then I have sat in on his every practice.
Each day we went around the block on "the Game" but not for more than 10 minutes at a time. In the last week he has stopped that and has made tremendous gains. I am now able to sit across the room from him and he will practice properly.

And the victory is not just in piano.
It translates to math and reading and whatever else.

Yesterday, I was able to congratulate him in front of his dad for being such a good student in all his projects and not even once thinking of playing "The Game". I have him on a pretty tight schedule. He is reading books on volcanoes, building volcanoes, etc and he didn't want to wait until school was out to start his summer math program so he's already up to the first test.  He's very excited to work with me.... in a sense I feel like it is a dry run for homeschooling him eventually so I'm pushing as hard as I feel it is safe. He has taken a long time to get to this point where I can trust him and he can trust me. We had to wait until he was ready
and then I had to push him past his comfort zone.

I need to be super careful still in many ways. He does not handle unpredictable. Don't pop something on him unprepared. Always pre-warn him, etc. Hopefully this will diminish with growth of confidence.

Sadly, for Missy things are NOT going well.
She brings her reading and math to me and desires to have the relationship that is between James and I, but she cannot trust me enough to work with me. She sabotages my every effort. She reverts to "The Game" about 5 seconds in and I AM DONE. I walk away. There is no use until she is ready to put forth something on her part. We are in a really rough spot as far as the relationship between her and I goes right now and it is because she is struggling with jealousy towards James and what she sees him doing and the progress he is making in his life and relationships. She saw me make cookies with James so she wanted to make cookies with me. We start off and within 5 minutes she is doing exactly what I tell her not to and I end up sending her out because no one would be able to eat what she touches if she were allowed to continue. I'm frustrated with her need for full control. Relationships are about sharing.

She IS doing well at the violin, though....
but it's something I don't do with her because I don't know violin.
Her piece at the recital was done very well.

I am praying for something to change here. She's totally stuck and only moves in response to peer impetus. . . . for violin it works, but will only work to a certain point.  It will leave her in the dust sooner than later.


Mama Ds Dozen said...

Yea, Mama, for the strength and endurance it took for 5 hours of playing The Game. I have certainly been.there.done.that.

I played The Game with my youngest daughter for 4 years of homeschooling . . . before deciding to put her into a small private school . . . before moving her to a Residential Care Facility. It is a HARD "game" to play . . . but you are playing it well.

Keep up the good work!


Mari said...

Thanks for stopping at my place.
My kids are now grown but I remember well the persistence required at times. You did good!

Emily said...

I know The Game!!!!! Well played, my friend. James didn't really want to win. You know he didn't! Once again, you've inspired me. It's so good to be able to read this and know I'm not the only one out there who goes through things like this. I want to give you a standing ovation from here! LOL! Praying for the same progress with Missy.

Mama in Uganda said...

We have a "Missy" too....and the games are exhausting, if I join in :) I have now learned, as you have, to just stop the game before it starts, or at least within the first five seconds! And, of course there is very little relationship going on...which grieves my heart. It is a world of their own making, and one which twisted and destructive.

Jenny said...

Yes, we have "the game" at our house also. One twin doesn't play it as often and we have a much better relationship. The other twin makes things very difficult and as you said it is for control. I will not have it either. I admire you for the five hour standoff! You go girl!!

Kathy C. said...

You are so much calmer with your twins than I am with mine. Mine came home from Haiti at almost five years old. I think the orphanage was so overcrowded that the nannies just let them do as they pleased because it was easier than trying to keep up with 135 kids.

Perri said...

I see so many similarities in our parenting style. Keep it up!