John's reply to: Co-Parenting in Divorce: Sometimes We Get it Right
I originally had this posted as a comment to Kirsten's post "Co-Parenting in Divorce: Sometimes We Get it Right" but it was too long so I decided to just create a new entry in the blog. Here goes ...
Wow! Reading this does really bring it all back again! Here are just a couple of notes from my perspective ...
First of all let me say that Jordan is a pretty smart kid ... in many ways. He has the ability to do very well in all of his subjects in school. But he does indeed have some motivational issues. The problem for me is that when I see him struggling it reminds me so much of the struggles I had in school at that age that it sometimes freaks me out just a little. If I have my Zen on I can deal much better with this type of situation. But this week I had some anxiety or mildly unsettling emotional noise going on under the surface. So when he showed me the test I did not handle it well ....
So here is what happened. Jordan comes into my office and tells me that he needs to have something signed (this means he has done something wrong either behaviorally or academically) . He is quick to point out that he got (2) 100's and a 64 or 61 (I can't remember for sure, not that it actually matters). I brush over the 100's to get to the failing grade. I ask him what test it was. He tells me it was the open note history test.
When he says "open note" I could barely restrain myself. A few days earlier before the test he assured me he would not need to study because, well, it is open note! I suggested that it never really hurts to go over the notes a little anyway. Well he would have none of that. No way he will put any effort into the open note test!
So not being in the best of emotional places myself I rant and rave. And I am pretty sure there was nothing of value said. While ranting and raving I am also signing the form acknowledging the poor grade and writing a fairly scathing note to Jordan's teacher suggesting, among other things, that it would be fine with me if he gave Jordan a detention for failing an open note test. At one point Jordan has the wherewithal to point out that he did bring home (2) tests with 100's. And I was able to pause and congratulate him on those. Of course, after all that ranting and raving I am sure the few kinds words I said about the (2) 100's were meaningless to him. (Sorry about that little buddy ... :-( ...).
So now I am frustrated and trying to work in my office. And Jordan is feeling hurt and unheard and is not working on his homework in the living room....
I get this text from Kirsten:
"Just got this from Jordan. He's feeling very misunderstood. I told him to talk to you from his heart and this is what he said. I'm not going to respond to him anymore. It's up to you two."
and then she pasted in Jordan's text to her:
"No fricken way! Hell litteraly freak out at me!! Ugh!! U really need to do something NOW before he starts like hitting me"
So I read this and know immediately that I need to take a couple of breaths, re-assess my mental state and try a fresh approach. After a moment to collect myself I give Kirsten a call. We chat for a bit about the scathing note I wrote on the form and that it may be misunderstood by the teacher and that Jordan is feeling bummed out himself. We get off the phone and I reflect for a few more moments before I go speak to Jordan again.
So by now I am fully aware that I have overreacted. The diatribe that I wrote on the form he had to take back to the school was over the top and out of line (both to Jordan and his teacher). And my reaction to Jordan did nothing to help him grow and learn from the situation and everything to help him shut down emotionally. *big sigh*
So I tear the bottom half of the form off (the part with my diatribe) and take it into the other room to talk to Jordan. I say, "Hey buddy can we talk for a minute?" He says, "Sure." I show him the form with my diatribe. I tell him that I am sorry I overreacted, I crumple it up and tell him I am throwing it away. This opens the door for a conversation with him where we talk about what went wrong with the test, and how to correct that for the future. It gives him an opportunity to speak and me an opportunity to really listen. He no longer feels misunderstood. And I get to throw a little genuine praise at him for the (2) excellent grades that he also brought home.