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Josh is learning to spell - The Rancho Commons — LiveJournal
Note to self: no whining, no slacking
Josh is learning to spell

The other day, Josh (5) was carrying his notebook around and wanted Allie to help him write something. As he approached her, flipping through the book, this note was exposed. Allie asked him what it said and he said, "I don't remember." When pressed, he still insisted he didn't remember what he wrote, though he was obviously distressed. She said, "Who did you write this to?" "Evan." (His 10 year old brother.) She told him it was very ugly, that we didn't say that to people, and he should be ashamed. He obviously was.

I am both saddened and encouraged by this event for many reasons. I'm sad that he would ever want to write that way about anyone, especially his own brother. I'm sad that small children are so cruel to each other, before they learn to hide their emotions, because they learn the cruelty from those around them. He doesn't really know what it means to hate someone, yet he knows it means something bad towards his brother, and that is what he wants to express. I'm not even sure I know what it is to truly hate someone. I am also sad that he is using the skills he is learning in school and at home to express hostility.

Yet, I'm also relieved that he is expressing it in such a passive form as writing it on a paper that he keeps hidden, like my journal here. I am encouraged by the fact that he was immediately ashamed; that he knew he was wrong and unjustified for expressing hatred for his brother. He wasn't defiant, or didn't feel justified for those feelings. I am encouraged the most by the fact that this is the first time we have seen a negative expression of emotion in his writing, and that he has written many more "I luv you" notes than this one hate message.

I love the mispellings in his words, which tell me he is stepping beyond his own knowledge of a few small words, which he can spell correctly, and seeking a larger vocabulary with which to write his feelings. It encourages me to see him hunger for knowledge, to see him recognize it as a tool with which he can make himself known to the world in new ways. Wow, I think, and he's only five years old.

I am overwhelmed and challenged by my responsibility, to both my sons, to guide them into the world in both a safe and adventurous way; so they walk and speak with confidence, but are wary of risks with consequences that are too great. The path through the world that gets you to my age "safely" can be varied and winding, yet narrow and dangerous, too. It is scary to set your children on that path having to use and trust their own judgment, rather than being able to decide everything for them.

Most of all, I am reminded of the enormity of the gift I have been given to have this opportunity with these two boys. Having progressed halfway - or even more - through my journey, I stand only at the beginning of theirs. And I hopefully get to watch them for a long time. It's like my toes are hanging off the edge of the Grand Canyon. It's breathtaking and monumental... and so much bigger than me. What a view!
6 aspirations -{}- aspire with me
dancingwaves From: dancingwaves Date: December 27th, 2004 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this.
aspiring2live From: aspiring2live Date: December 28th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Steph, for reading and commenting.
schmimi From: schmimi Date: December 28th, 2004 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I know you know this, but having negative emotions toward a sibling is the most normal thing in the world. In fact, it would be weird if Josh had none of those feelings. Also, I think it's important to teach kids the distinction between feelings (which are not always appropriate, and which you can't always control, but are nonetheless real), and what you do about them. "It's okay to feel mad; it's not okay to hit." And as you said, it sounds like he is doing a good job of learning to cope with bad feelings without being destructive or hurtful. That's so important.

/end armchair parenting.

Don't you just loove people like me? :)

Actually, I really enjoy reading about your parenting adventures, and this was a great post. I hope you don't mind when I throw my two cents in on a topic which, aside from 10 years of nannying (which obviously is not the same thing), I know nothing about. Let me know if it bothers you and I'll shut up. :)
aspiring2live From: aspiring2live Date: December 28th, 2004 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I know you know this, but having negative emotions toward a sibling is the most normal thing in the world.

My original intent was to start out talking about how normal it is. That was the first statement I made to Allie when he left the room after she found it. As I thought out what I was writing though, I lost that part.

I certainly don't mind other people's perspectives, parents or otherwise. We've all been on the child's end, so we all have experience with good and bad parenting. I take help wherever I can get it.

Also, if you hadn't noticed, I'm not the kind of writer who attracts a lot of comments. I appreciate all of my comments, and yours are among the most appreciated.
curious_corax From: curious_corax Date: January 28th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
   Excuse me, but I just read this post. I was browsing and I always like reading about another caring parent talk about their kids. My girls just amaze me every day.
   So, hi.
aspiring2live From: aspiring2live Date: January 28th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I checked out your journal and found some commonality. You are a guy, you have children and a wife, you are from the same generation that I am, and your LJ isn't full of profanity. On these merits, I have added you!

Now, I also admit that I don't really know much at all about you because you are obviously quite private as well. Virtually no bio, an undeveloped website, and I don't get what's going on with that whole <> thing. So, I am looking forward to reading your LJ. Feel free to add back, but don't feel obligated.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

6 aspirations -{}- aspire with me