I'd say that Elaine is one of the most exhausting children on the planet, but I'm sure there are several that could give her a serious run for the money. (What does that even mean, run for the money? Whatever.) So I won't say she's the most exhausting, but I will say that I am exhausted.
This school year is proving to be quite a challenge. Fourth grade is hard, and Elaine fights change like she's fighting for her life. She's harder on herself than Mike or I could ever be. She so desperately wants people to be proud of her, worries what others think or might think, and is a real stickler for kids to follow the teacher's rules. If she can't master something the first time, well then, throw in the towel because she's never gonna get it. This from the same girl who totally fell for all of that positive reinforcement her dad gave her while training for her 5k. Yet for some reason, she can't apply it to school.
So I cut her some slack the first quarter of school. It was harder, she seemed to be behind in math and geography skills, she was worried, Mike was traveling more and I went back to work full-time. I helped her as often as I could. We'd rework problems that were wrong and I'd try to explain why they were wrong. We practiced multiplication and map skills. I talked about the big picture - slowing down, checking your work, making sure your answer truly answered the question.
Now she's back at the same sloppy mistakes. She's looking at an atlas and can't see what's in front of her. She doesn't remember if a paper is required for her poster project, and decides to freak out about that the MORNING IT IS DUE. But she can tell you who didn't follow the rules in class that day. Who has time to learn when you have to police all of your classmates? And so I wind up annoyed and angry. I'm trying to contain it as I ask her to show me the equator and then explain to me how she thinks it's possible that South America is completely north of the equator?
Bang your head on the table. Go ahead. I did.
BUT then... Then you read her writing and you can't help but want to squeeze her and hug her and call her George. In everything she writes, her emotions are right there at the surface. They recently had to write answering prompts about themselves. Who is Elaine? What does she want? Who will she be when she grows up?
Some excerpts from that writing:
Elaine wants a best friend that is kind. She'll get her degree at work at her mom's work. She loves her family more than anything, and she'd love to see her Aunt Barbara just one more time. She wants everyone to be happy all of the time and for people in the world to be nice to each other.
Do you see?
She's exhausting. Wonderfully exhausting. But exhausting nonetheless.