Daddy and I have always known since Big M was little that he was a bright boy. We knew we had to keep an eye on him and keep in intellectually stimulated. But little did we know that it also takes a slightly different way to parent him. A couple of weeks ago, while upset about having to do his homework, he said "I'm going to my room and die myself!" It's a pretty shocking statement, especially coming from a 6-year old so I did my best to calculate my reaction while suppressing strong emotions. I told him that doing so would make our whole family very sad. In the midst of our heated conversation, he said he didn't know what else to say and do so I told him that there is always things he can do no matter how stressful things get in life. When everything was calm down, he apologized that he really didn't want to do that. I fished it out of him to see if he had any plans, and he said that he heard at school a long time ago that people can die if they don't eat for a certain amount of days.
Daddy and I had a discussion that evening and we agreed that I would talk to the school counselor the next day. I had no idea if I was even talking to the right person in terms of this issue, but our school counselor was excellent. She said while it could be nothing, we do have to take it seriously. She had a chat short chat with Big M that day, as well as a chat with his teacher. The counselor said that Big M got very emotional and that he seemed anxious. While she didn't think he would do anything to harm himself, it's best to keep an eye on things. She also suggested things to try at home with homework, such as frequent breaks.
I think as parents, Daddy and I take full responsibility on our little guy's behavior. Personally, I gladly take more of the blame. While I don't think I'm as uptight as other parents, I do consider myself one and it clearly transfer onto Big M. Daddy and I decided this is a call for change. We need to live in the present. Until very recently, we lived on "survival mode" after the twins were born. It's only within the year that things are becoming manageable as the older 3 kids become very independent and self-sufficient. We no longer have to rush everyone through to get to the next appointment, to nap time, bed time, only to do the exact same thing again. We can relax and be with each other. I find myself doing the cleaning while the kids sit and cuddle with Daddy while they watch TV. I am uptight and it conveys to the children and robs them of close contact with me. Daddy shares the blame too, so we agree we have to change.
I also contacted a friend of ours whose expertise deal with our issue. She said that smart kids learn to be perfectionists at a very young age. They know something has to be done a particular way, and they want to do it perfectly and when it isn't possible, it results in stress, a sense of failure even before attempting. Daddy and I also have this problem. We've discussed this before and definitely do not want this of our children. We don't want them to grow up as underachievers who feel like failure at the get-go. Our dear friend said a lot of things that connected a lot of dots for us and so we are hopeful.
There are a lot of stress facing us in the near future and as parents, we need to be aware and deal with it accordingly. How many times has Daddy and I said that we can handle everything, as long as we stick together. The "we" is not just him and me. It includes the children too. We survived a year of unemployment, of cross-country move, financial hardship and isolation. We know that we can live with the basics and be happy. Wherever life takes us, we can take it as long as we look out for each other.
We need to live in the moment. It's not an easy concept to put in practice, so we're going to have to do baby-steps.