Friday, June 10, 2011
Caught Between A Boy and A Man...
Joseph has had a really rough school year this year.
I think I spent more time in conferences and on the phone with teachers and principals than all the other years combined. He's struggled at home, too...with bursts of irrational anger and long periods of self-inflicted isolation.
In other words...he's caused us a lot of stress and anxiety and been the focus of many prayers.
We've tried all kinds of things to get him to do better in school and control his emotions at home...threatened, bribed, pleaded, begged, cried,and researched. Nothing seems to make a dent in the seemingly impenetrable bubble Joseph surrounds himself with. Nothing interests or excites or inspires him...so we have no leverage to work with.
There is one thing that Joseph likes to do ...and that is to play cello. He's not a master at it...in fact, I believe he is last chair. And he is still getting an atrocious grade in the class because he always "forgets" to bring his cello home to practice (probably a main reason why he is last chair). But...it's something he enjoys doing, and doesn't feel stressed about. So, in my mind...it's a really good thing for him to do. And that is why, although we have taken away practically all other privileges in response to his failing grades, we haven't taken away cello...because he needs SOMETHING that he feels confidant about doing.
Joseph did advance to Advanced Orchestra this year as a second-year cello student...and he got a little trophy at the Awards Banquet.
He looks really excited, right? Despite his "smile-without-smiling" expression, he was very happy to get an award.
Even little plastic trophies make you feel good...especially for a kid like Joseph who has had a rough year without any successes to speak of...someone who hasn't gotten praised or awarded or received any kinds of accolades whatsoever...this makes you feel important, and not forgotten, and not worthless.
We tell him how wonderful he is all the time, but we also ride him hard about his schoolwork, and his attitude...and I know his teachers do, too...so I wonder what he really thinks of himself.
We also had the pleasure of attending Josephs End Of The Year Concert and watching him play. I really love watching him play because he seems to really have fun doing it.
The middle school orchestra shares the night with the high school orchestra...which is also very small but is VERY good, and churns out top musicians every year that get accepted to top music programs all over the country. Joseph really likes listening to the high school orchestra and cannot wait to be in high school so he can play in it, too.
He promised me that next year, in eighth grade, he'll try harder. I offered to get him private lessons on the cello...hoping to inspire him to really delve into something that he likes, but he just shrugged and said: "I already know how to play. I don't need to learn anything else. I just want to play."
*sigh* The concept seems to be escaping him...
Anyway...although Joseph has had a trying year...I really am proud of him...I love him and see this young man struggling to break out of a little boy who doesn't want to STOP being a kid. I wish there was a way to make these transitional years easier on him...but Joseph seems to have picked a lonely path that he has no desire to deter from.
So I'll be here...waiting...hoping...if he needs me...
Being a mom is so hard...a pendulum swinging between unbridled joy and immeasurable heartbreak...