Thursday nights are rough. Daddy’s gone all night. It’s the end of the week. Everyone’s tired. Or at least the mama is. And we’ve always got homework to do. We sit at the table before or after dinner. Most Thursday nights, there are gigantic quiet tears that slide down one of my boy’s faces onto his paper below. The dreaded paper that holds the week’s spelling words.
Siblings, with the help of parents, can both intentionally and unintentionally be the earliest and most phenomenal teachers of life’s most important and hardest lessons to one another. They can help teach children and adults about love, loyalty, compassion, empathy, sacrifice, sharing, conflict resolution and so many other valuable life lessons. They can also teach challenging lessons having to do with resentment, jealousy, and competition. Siblings can shine a spotlight on strengths, weaknesses and striking similarities and differences in people raised under the same roof. At this point in our household, sibling rivalry has more to do with one child possessing a skill or personality trait or toy that another sibling does not. Like the ability to spell or read. Or the skill of properly writing the letters that create the words.
I aspire as a mom to work on homework with my twin boys at separate times of the day. It’s one of many of my motherly aspirations. I just need an extra day added between Wednesday and Thursday. I think this setup may reduce some of the frustration and competitiveness that comes with two boys trying to get their homework done. The quickest. However, life happens. Busyness always takes over. And honestly, most times, my boys happen to love each other a whole lot. So that results in all of us playing tag at the playground or hanging out together. Leaving a limited amount of time for working with each boy separately. Time constraints: the struggle is real.
Tonight, I sat next to and rubbed one of my boy’s backs at the kitchen table. I encouraged him and told him that he was almost done. I couldn’t get inside his head but I recognized his expression and the big slow tears that dropped onto his paper were tears of frustration. Frustration that his brother finished and he was still sitting at the table. With me. Frustration that I had him correct his mistakes. Repeatedly. I knew that he had to persevere and finish his work. And it sucked. I would rather be “it” for a never-ending game of tag. Any day of the week. It’s a hard, handcuffed type of a feeling as a mother to watch your child struggle and know that you can’t pave every gravel road for him. Or just pick him up and carry him. My hope is that by sitting next to him at the table I can teach him to push out some of the negative thoughts. Those debilitating thoughts can wreck a person. Especially a young child that has a lot of years left to complete in school.
I hope he will feel less alone too. I hate feeling not good at something. I hate having my mistakes corrected too. But it’s a part of life. For all of us. Maybe spelling will help make him more hopeful and aware that even when something is hard, he can finish it and be proud that he pushed through. I’m also hopeful that this skill will carry over into much bigger and more important things in life than spelling words. Afterall, there is spellcheck. I won’t tell him about this phenomenon yet. It’s just not the right time.