self esteem

i just added a new folder to my photo folder on my computer: age 6. yes, i organize my photos based on my son’s age (in monthly folders within the current age folder, even after it stopped making sense to relate his age to people as “72 months”). to me it makes perfect sense since the vast majority of the photos i take are of him. creating that folder was when the realization really hit me that quinn is now six!

tonight we celebrate some more with pumpkin pie, presents, and party hats.

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(i don’t have any photos yet of 6 year old quinn, so instead you get garlic!)

i spoke with quinn about identifying for now as homeschoolers; also that after a while, we might start going to our living school, but at first we would go together, and we would start with just a few days each week. he loved the idea. he launched right in, “how about two days. i think, tuesday, and friday.” (this little man has a plan!) i said maybe me going with him would be for a little while, like while he is six, or maybe longer. he said, “yeah, how about the whole time i’m a kid.”

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(celery)

 

then i talked to him some about a moment he had when we were building his shoebox catapult, two days earlier. the plastic spoon snapped when he was trying to launch a pompom, and he immediately dissolved in tears, and then started hitting himself on the head with both fists. this was one of the behaviors, oddly enough, that my coparent had talked all about which in his mind was an abuse indicator, that he has apparently seen him do quite a few times. we had not seen it in a long while, nor to this intensity. so it was very weird that it happened the same night as the meeting.

at one point, talking with him, i thought he was going to change the subject as he does sometimes when uncomfortable topics arise, because he started to say, “can we just go back to talking about…” but then said “the part with the catapult” so he was into having this conversation. we talked about why i was concerned about it, and that it was important to me that he follow our rules of safe and gentle. he understood that, and saw why that did not follow our family rules. then talked about what he was feeling at the time, which he wanted me to guess, and eventually he settled on mostly sad, (after i listed angry, mad, sad, scared) and he also said a little of scared also.

later he went on to talk a lot about angry feelings so i think he figured out that it was ok for him to say he felt anger… i know many of us get a message at some point that anger is not a safe emotion to have or express… we talked about what he can do instead of hurting himself, when he has those big ugly feelings like angry/sad/mad/scared. like snuggle up to me and get some love, say what he is feeling (even loudly is ok), etc. then we talked about it being good to get those feelings out instead of letting them stay in, that way there is room for the happy good feelings to come back in.

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he came up with this wild story about how when he has feelings it’s like he is an ewok log launcher, and he needs to load the angry feelings inside the logs, and then launch them out of himself. and we talked about how he can do that… and then he said, “i think when i hit myself, it was that i had run out of logs and still had one feeling left. we decided maybe he was trying to get the feeling out when he hurt himself. and we discussed that hurting himself didn’t really get it out, and wasn’t a good choice for how to do it. he agreed.

we then talked about what those logs are, and how we can make sure he has enough logs to always be able to handle big feelings, no matter how many he is having. (he knows exactly what to call it when we have lots of different strong emotions: “overwhelmed”.) we decided that he needed to be filled up with a lot of love, and the logs are love logs, and he can put the angry feelings inside the love logs to help them get out. so we talked about all the people who love him and can help him fill up with love, (he got more and more smiley and happy and lit up every name we named, like he couldn’t believe he was so lucky to have so many people love him).

we also talked about how he can love himself, and it’s important to love himself.  this is an ongoing topic. he said to me the other day when he got stuck on a word he was trying to read, “i hate myself” so this is something we’ve been talking about.

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(kale)

it saddens me that my son sometimes hates himself. i have a couple of theories of where some of it might come from:

  1. his dad might be modeling being a person who hates himself
  2. his dad might be vocalizing hating his mom; it’s been well documented that kids whose parents trash talk each other have self esteem issues.

all of that said, i think it’s a positive conversation that we had… i think it’s going to help a lot, since any time he can bring something alive for himself with a storyline, it seems to be groundbreaking for him.

i’ve been keeping this all in mind when choosing curriculum. with the reading, i’ve mentioned using bob books, and giving him a sense of “i read the whole thing!” i’m also reading up on jump math, a curriculum out of canada that is based on scaffolding concepts; children only move on to the next more difficult topic when they are solid on the previous one. jump is a non-profit organization dedicated to the idea that all children can learn math, and that confidence building is key. i also dug out a book a friend gave me at some point, the lovables in the kingdom of self esteem by diane loomans. it is not one we have read much, but i now know why i’ve hung onto it.

this all relates to me and my choices as well. me as an adult modeling high self esteem to my son; showing that i trust myself, can assert myself when i know from my own experience what is best in a given situation. i definitely feel i have been confronting some of my own self esteem feelings in the past few weeks/months/year because, as you can imagine, it is harder to feel empowered about your own life choices when so many professionals are imparting advice and becoming involved. i have found i need to be very conscious of the line where their advice becomes, against their intentions i am sure, disempowering, because of the way it can make me feel i am unqualified to make decisions for my son. i have to remain very mindful that actually i am the best person to be making these decisions for him, taking all of their input seriously, and then unapologetically moving forward with what is best for us.

which is exactly what i hope quinn will do if he is a parent someday.

 

 

 

 

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