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I Can’t Teach My Kids

June 25, 2012

I remember helping out classmates in high school algebra class my freshman year. My teacher told me that I was a “natural,” and should really consider teaching as a career.  I not only considered it, but I went through with it.  I put my love of reading and writing to work and became a middle and high school English teacher.

I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait till I had kids of my own so I could teach them all sorts of things. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Yet another example of how misguided I was before having children.

I’ve been a parent for over eight years now, and I’m pretty sure I have failed more than succeeded when it comes to actively teaching my kids anything.  Oh sure, I teach them by example all the time, and am raising them to be kind, well-mannered kids.  I do recognize that.  But when I think of actual skills and processes, I feel like such a failure.

I am equally inept teaching educational skills as I am gross motor skills to my kids.  I was a cheerleading coach for eight years, but I can’t seem to teach my own kids how to do cartwheels.  Teaching my boys to ride two-wheelers without training wheels was another road block for me.  Thank God for my husband and parents in that regard.

Teaching how to hold a fork, scissors, or pencil brought frustration to new levels. When it comes to helping with homework, my kids are just as stubborn as I am was.  They fight me every step of the way, rewarding me with tears and exasperated sighs.

Our latest struggle is treading water.  My kids are late swimmers, but after years of lessons and building their confidence, my boys finally get how to float and move across and through the water.  However, our local pool requires kids to pass a dive test before they can use the diving boards and water slide.  Treading water is part of this test.

I have taken each of my boys to the deeper end of the pool to try to work on treading water.  They both sink like stones.  We try bicycling with our legs while spinning pretend pizzas under the surface of the water with our arms.  They sink.  We try kicking out like frogs with our legs and dribbling pretend basketballs with our hands.  They sink.  We try flailing like Muppets in all directions under the water.  They sink.

At least in the pool, my attempts at instruction are met with laughter and smiles instead of tears and anger, but still.  I am not having much success.

As my children are getting closer each year to all being in a full day of school, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost my touch and should consider something other than teaching when I go back to work.  The thing is, I seem to have more success with other people’s children than my own.

I am hereby offering a trade to all local moms.  I’ll take your kids and teach them cartwheels and rhyming and how to play solitaire if you’ll teach my kids bike riding, treading water, and how to eat like a human with utensils instead of like wild animals.

If the trade doesn’t appeal to you, then at least give me your secrets.  What tricks are you using to teach your own children?  I need all the help I can get!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    June 25, 2012 7:31 AM

    You teach my boys how to ride a bike and not be afraid of the deep end and I’ll teach yours. I think teachers, as parents, all feel this way. The problem is, there is emotion involved in teaching our own kids. I get it!
    http://amysreallife.wordpress.com

    • June 25, 2012 7:45 AM

      It’s a deal, Amy!

  2. June 25, 2012 7:41 AM

    It’s so true! For some reason we lose the ability to teach skills – and sometimes even do them! – when it comes to our children. Mine still don’t know how to ride bikes, even with training wheels. They aren’t yet swimming (Katie included). But I do know how to help them with handwriting and eating skills thanks to years of them receiving occupational therapy.

    That would be very cool if you could trade skills with another parent – you take the academic stuff and they take the physical. I’m sure you’ll find your teaching ability isn’t as rusty as you think when it comes to other kids. 🙂

    • June 25, 2012 7:44 AM

      While I’m not happy that you’re struggling, too, I am grateful to know I’m not alone in this!

  3. KIM permalink
    June 25, 2012 7:50 AM

    Shit i guess i was bad mom.my husband died when my daughter was 2 and half.so i been widow now for over 20 years.i was only 33 when i had to learn its just me and my daughter.so when she went swimming for 1 time she was under year old my parents have big pool and i moved in with them,i throw her in and she came up.so let them do what they can on there own,now my daughter is 22 almost speacks 4 langues.and lives in switzland going to school with GPA 3.8.so iam proud mom.

    • June 25, 2012 8:04 AM

      That’s great, Kim. Proud mom, indeed!

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