My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approvalPosted: March 11, 2020
I have two sons, both of which are quite different in their abilities and attitudes to life in general.
My oldest, Gregory, is a scholar. At the age of five he could read music and played the piano with some aptitude. At six, I taught him to read as he was frustrated by this inability and the schools in South Africa only teach reading during the year children turn seven. By the end of his second year of schooling, Greg had read all the series of books for young children I could think of, including Horrid Henry, Astrosaurs, the Little Men and Little Miss books, Secret Seven and many more.
I moved him on to other books, the Classic Starts series for children and during his third year of school, he started delving into some of the original classics. He also read all of the Shakespeare Junior Classics. The school enrolled him in a mathematics extension programme and he finished the entire additional workbook in two afternoons.
From a learning perspective, my oldest son is a dream. He works hard, perseveres and is determined to succeed. He is a lot like me. He shares my failings too. He only applies himself to things he enjoys, gets bored quickly and needs to be continuously challenged and stimulated. These character traits do not always provide for a peaceful co-existence with peers and colleagues, many of whom do not share our obsessive approach to work and areas of interest. My colleagues often ask me how I know so much about a certain topic and I will say: “It’s an interest of mine.” Greg and I are peas in a pod, we have many interests which we are very passionate about. Greg is not interested particularly in sport or socializing and does these things only when it is necessary.
My younger son, Michael, is different. Michael also likes to achieve, but his aims are tempered by a general enjoyment of life and friends and he likes to relax. He also likes to socialize and spend time with friends. School assignments are not a cause for concern until the day before they are due and, even then, they are approached in a slow and steady manner and not with panic. Michael doesn’t aim for distinctions and is very happy to achieve Bs and Cs on his progress report.
Michael is not particularly sporty, but he loves to join in with the whole “rah rah – all mates together” theme of an all-boys school and loves the war cries. He will break into a vibrant rendition of a war cry at the drop of a hat and I will be in stitches of laughter as he belts out the phrases at the top of his loud and currently breaking voice.
In summary, I am trying to bring up a complete overachiever and a happy go lucky Joe and get both through school, college and relationships.
The interesting thing for me is that both my boys have the same number of achievement certificates from their schools. Granted, Michael was at a remedial school until this year, and they do give awards for a greater variety of achievements, but Michael’s were generally in academic categories such as mathematics and Afrikaans.
With two boys as different as mine, it is not always easy to find the correct balance for encouraging and rewarding them, especially verbally. This past week, Gregory came home with 98% for his English examination and 93% for his mathematics examination. Michael came home with 60% for his Afrikaans examination and 75% for his English examination. I gave them both equal congratulations and made an equal fuss of their achievements. Other members of my social circle and family don’t always understand this approach. For me, I judge my boys’ achievements on their individual histories, attitudes and effort.
Gregory works very hard all the time. He has the intellectual ability to achieve very high marks and this, coupled with his work ethic, enable him in achieving excellent academic success. My worry for my older son is that he spends to much time working, gets to obsessed with achievement of his goals and struggles to balance other aspects of his life with work. In that way he is just like me.
Michael has a learning barrier and struggled to learn to read competently. He qualifies for a time concession for examinations and time will tell whether he need this or not. A child that struggles to read and write in his mother tongue, finds a second language extremely difficult. A remedial school focuses on the core subject of English and mathematics and the second language isn’t as much of a focal point. When we knew in 2018 that Michael would mainstream for high school, I got an Afrikaans tutor for him as I knew his abilities in that language were lacking. He has worked hard to get on top of his deficiencies.
When he started high school this year, Michael was one of the only boys, out of 150, that didn’t know anyone. He was the only boy who transitioned to his high school from his primary school. The first week was hard and he felt very tired. One the second day of school, the boys wrote an Afrikaans test to see what their level of proficiency in the language was and Michael failed. As a result, he is now attending extra lessons in this language at the school as well as at home. When he came home with a 60% result, I was ecstatic. This mark is an indication of his perseverance and resilience, and I will be delighted if he can maintain this mark for the next five years.
Obtaining his Afrikaans result on the same day as Gregory’s mathematics result made me reflect on the differences in my two sons and how I perceive their achievements. I my eyes, their achievements are equal as the input was equal.
This reflection on how we need to consider out children separately and not measure them against their siblings and peers inspired this post. Each of our children is special in their own way and each deserves to be measured against his own input and ability levels and not those of others.
About Robbie Cheadle
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads
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Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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