Tuesday, May 20, 2014

down on myself

This is the kind of rut I don't like to spend a lot of mental energy on, and maybe writing about it sinks me further into it.  But I figure a lot of people experience this so I may as well put it out there.

Right now Chana is lying on the couch under a giant cardboard box.  It's a box that has been converted into a car/rocketship, complete with giant window.  The boys have been using it all week.  Right now it's a fort for sulking.

I haven't been so happy with how rashi has been going.  I've been, b'dieved (not optimally), being okay with her being fairly fluent at reading it with the majority of the words pronounced correctly or close to correctly, and knowing the general idea of the rashi.  This is not my preference, since I'd rather she know how to translate it phrase by phrase, and that she would learn the new words.  But it's too much.  I had to choose to do more rashis like this, or to do fewer rashis and concentrate on better translation.  I chose the former, since it has the added bonus of bekius (knowing a larger amount of information).  It has the negative of not working so well to improve rashi skills.

Somehow, today, there are 16 new rashis to do.  Chana is completely overwhelmed.  We must have gone a few days where we didn't do new rashis.  Chana gets annoyed if I scout out new rashis while she is doing new pesukim, and so I try to do it after she's finished.  But that smacks too much of "prep" which I dislike.  So I guess I finally sat down and underlined a bunch of rashis yesterday, and there were a lot of them.

I had to interrupt writing this because my 2yo, Aharon, is having an on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming tantrum about an egg.  He wanted a hard boiled egg.  I have none.  He took one from the fridge.  I decided to let him crack it because he thought my refusal to let him crack it was a conspiracy to prevent him from having the hard boiled egg.  He cracked it, and then was dismayed that it wouldn't peel.  Then he got another egg to try again, and freaked out when I took it away.  Then he got upset that the eggs I was boiling weren't ready.  Then he was upset that they were going to be hot.  Then he refused the sunny-side-up egg I made with his cracked egg.  Then he screamed when I ate it.

And the whole time I'm still thinking about Chana being overwhelmed with rashi and wishing I could figure out how to reconnect with her.
Aside from rashi not working out so well, Chana's been complaining about how she dislikes math (even though it's going great) and one day last week, she and Sarah were saying how much they disliked Chumash.  Sarah has unfond memories of Chumash.

I've been feeling morose about that.  Why is it that the two subjects I teach them are the ones they dislike intensely?  Is it me?  Is it the way I teach?

It's possible that they just dislike anything where they have to do drillwork.  And yet I know there are teachers who impart skills and the students do enjoy it.

Add into the mix that it seems like my 2 and 4 year old have been tantrumming a lot.  And yelling at me and hitting me.  Or maybe they've been their usual, but I've been edgier.  I have been hearing myself speak in ways that I would find embarrassing if I were to be overheard.  And then I note that I'm concerned with image, but less concerned with the emotional damage I'll wreak.  Am I experiencing burnout?  Am I allowing their behaviors and reacting in a way that encourages it?  I've been out, by myself and on date nights, and it hasn't been helping.  (I've been more mindful of my reactions to the tantrums, and that has been helping.)  So between it being a somewhat more intense toddler phase these days, plus me feeling overall like my girls dislike learning the areas I put the most effort into, I've been down on myself.

It occurs to me that during the early teenage years, I don't speak that much to my daughters (it minimizes arguing), and when I do, it is schoolwork related, and so a lot of our learning interactions are laced with the undertones of adolescent mother daughter conflict.  Is that why they have unhappy memories of our work together?  It saddens me because studying Torah with my daughters has been one of the happiest and most rewarding experiences of my life.

Maybe they got more out of it than they feel they got.  Maybe they have an underlying feeling of dislike of slogging through the skillswork, but maybe they also have an overall sense of Torah that they don't even realize, because it's so much a part of them.

It's hard to not be down on myself and not question and not wonder if I've been going about this wrong.

But I take a deep breath.  Sarah's a wonderful young lady.  I hope, and there is every reason to believe, that Chana and I will emerge from the tumult of these years.

It is possible that I'm teaching Torah in a way that causes them to dislike it.  I'm already trying a different approach with the boys, anyway.  So maybe I made mistakes.  Maybe I bungled it somewhat.

I'm going to take my usual approach.  Cut myself a break.  Let these thoughts simmer.  If I think I made mistakes that I have an opportunity to do better with in the future, then I'll try to do better.  If it's in the past, so be it.

Back to the practical.  I've got a list of 16 rashis and a daughter who's not talking to me.  My priority is to have a pleasant interaction of some sort with her, and that is trickier than doing those rashis.

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