My first-born seems to always have had a pretty good sense of what she does and does not like.
To oversimplify it, she likes what she already has mastered and intensely dislikes struggling to learn new tasks. Art and movement came easy to her very early, so she focused heavily on drawing, crafting, running, and swimming. By the age of two she could dive and swim freestyle, side breathing. It’s not unusual for a person to want to feel more success upon tasting it, and to try to excel in what they’re naturally gifted. That’s the nature of talents.
Sitting still was not her forte, and still is not. Patience with herself to improve reading and other schoolwork came very slowly! Just today, subtracting 4-digit numbers with borrowing, etc., drove her to tears, and not because she can’t do it – she doesn’t like sitting and doing and DOING it. She’d love for me to sit by her and spoon feed her the steps to basically reduce it back down to orally answering much simpler problems. Regardless of how many times I explain to her that she has to do this for herself so that it will become easier/faster and so that she is prepared for subsequent lessons, my 8 1/2 year-old is reduced to tears of anguish and frustration. After two or three acts of her one-man operetta I Can’t Do It… Why is My Life So Awful and Who Invented Homework Anyway??!!??, she settles down and does her work with little difficulty. Such is math. (Ironically, she scored in the ONE HUNDREDTH percentile in 3 areas of the math portion of her standardized testing last spring, including in subtraction. She totally can do it—just doesn’t like new things.)
My wiggly toddler is learning to… learn. We’ve never questioned her intellect. I have, however, worried that she would never care to convert raw intelligence into academic achievement. She’s always had a pretty good sense of self esteem and, I fretted she would be happy as a clam sliding by because it’s easier, and because she knows we love her unconditionally… and, dare I say it, she kind of seemed like she’d be perfectly willing to take advantage of that. I should have known better, but one of the main job requirements of motherhood is worrying about every and anything. I would probably have worried about her burning out at the age of 13 if she was 180 degrees the other way. :)
Reading has been even less enjoyable… until this year. Finally (hallelujah) she understands. Reading is not taking away from her playtime. It is the brain’s playtime. Something clicked and it’s not only about sitting still or how manyminutesleftbeforereadingtimeisoverMOM. It’s about the story. It’s an adventure. She can go anywhere, do anything… in a book.
A stack of new books to read excites her. I can’t wait until I spy her sniffing an old book. I’ve already caught her reading in bed when the lights should be out.
Don’t mess with a girl about to finish a book. As if I’d dare do that…