The Boy Child, who is in fourth grade, is not what one would call “fond” of math. Or writing. And until recently, reading.  If you ask him what his favorite thing about school is he will usually answer “recess” or “lunch”.  (Sometimes, lately, he will say he likes when his teacher reads aloud during lunch.  Which I love.)    This is not a new thing.

Last night he brought home a math “pre-test”, in preparation for the actual test today.  He did it on his own first, and then I went through and told him which ones to correct.  This involves much gnashing of teeth – “it’s too hard!”.  The frustrating thing is, when he takes his time and focuses, he does very well.  He is fully capable of the work.  But since he doesn’t enjoy it, he doesn’t focus on it and gets half the problems wrong.  When he does it a second time, he usually gets it right.  It is exhausting, reminding him that he DOES know how to do this, trying to convince him that is capable. He simply does not believe it, for reasons that completely escape me.  He sees only the ones he gets wrong, not the ones he got right all by himself.  Even when I point this out, he will shrug it off.

This morning I found a note on his door.  It said “GO AWAY”.  And “P.S. I would just like to relax for once”.  And something about his sister.  Clearly, he is stressed about this test and it breaks my heart.  It was never my intent to cause him more stress; I was trying to relieve it!  Could it be that my efforts to ENCOURAGE him by talking about it and telling him to just do his best have actually DISCOURAGED him, put too much pressure on him?  I realize that not everyone likes math (or writing for that matter) or is a super genius.  I don’t expect him to be. But I worry (already) that he will end up asking if you want fries with that shake.  That he won’t be able to get into college and get a job that allows him to “live in San Diego in a condo with a chimp and be single”.  I know he will find his own way – I would just like it to be sooner rather than later.

For now, we will continue to forge gently forward with the math and writing and hope for some kind of confidence breakthrough.  I am at my wit’s end.


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