05 November 2013

Enrichment, it's a necessity of life. (Part 1)

He leaves his socks on at the beach.
"School-age children between the ages of 5 and 14 spend up to 80% of their time out of school.  These hours represent an opportunity to help children grow and acquire important social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills and to help them develop lifelong interests.  This time can also be used to provide support for the academic challenges faced by children each day in school."

I pretty much know that enrichment is a good thing to have in life, not just as a child but also as an adult.  And when this little Andy person came to my house he was very lacking in enrichment.  His social, emotional, academic and emotional growth has been stunted by his previous living situations.  My little brother has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because my mom never signed him up for sports.  Granted my mom couldn't afford them financially.  She also could not afford the time required for the free, school related sports my brother was so interested in.  As a result my brother has his boys signed up for a sport during the different sport seasons through out the year.  Enrichment.  I don't want to have to help invest my time to provide enrichment but then again I want to help Andy grow into a better adult than if he would have stayed with the mother.  (I still, very much, want to maul her face off and feed it to rabid monkeys.)

Andy with making friends with Jackey.
I got to be in band, mostly because I lived with my grandmother and not my mom.  I did not have interest in sports, especially team sports.  I found enrichment through books, writings, paper crafts, skating and band.  Having these activities helped me cope with some difficult times during my childhood.  They served as an escape, as an outlet and as a way to focus my energy in a non-destructive way.  I understand the importance of having enriching activities.  So when Andy came to us, I made it clear to my husband that I would help any way I could.  I told him that I would support his decisions regarding Andy 100% (what was I thinking?!).  But I insisted that Andy be enrolled in some sort of activities that would a.) get him out of the house b.) help him make friends and c.) learn some social skills.

Andy's idea of a good time when he came to live with us involved napping, eating, watching television and playing games on his mother's cell phone.  None of that was going to happen in my house.  You sleep when it's time to sleep, no day naps.  Eating is for nutrition and not to fill a void or cure boredom.  Television is not something that is turned on very often in my house.  And cell phones are not toys.  Andy pretty much hated every thing we suggested.  "Hey Andy, do you want to {insert name of something fun to do}?"  And his answers were, "No, I hate it." or "I don't like that." 

At a pool party not making friends.
We quickly got wise and realized that given his mother's social ineptitude and financial state, he had probably not tried much of what we had offered.  How the hell does someone hate so many things they had never tried?  Maybe it was more fear of trying something new?  So we started to ask him if he had tried certain activities like going to the batting cages.  He would tell us that he had not been but would not like to go.  After a while we just started going to do fun things and he was in tow.  He would end up watching us have fun and refuse to join in.  I finally stooped to the passive aggressive bribe.  Yeah, I know, shame on me.  Shaddup!  We are new at this parenting crap.  And it worked, I haven't had to bribe after the first time so far.  I am not above bribing but I also don't want it to be a common practice.  I know that it is good to reward for good behaviors.  But damn it, he has to have fun!!!  Or rather I would prefer for him to actually let loose and have fun from time to time instead of HATE everything.  And making his bedroom a terrible mess does not constitute fun.

I think that helmet gave him lice.
"Hey Andy, we are going to the batting cages, lets go."
"No I don't want to do that."
"That's fine but we can't leave you home alone.  So lets go."
Once we get to the batting cages he starts grumbling that he is so bored and how soon could we go back home.
"Okay Andy we are gonna hit a few balls and then after we are going to have ice cream.  Then we can go home since you are SOOOO bored."
"Oh where are we getting ice cream from?"
"Your dad and I are having ice cream after the batting cages.  No batting cages, no ice cream."
He wanders to the bench and sulks.  Shortly before my turn to bat he jumps up off the bench.
"Okay, okay!  I will do it.  But I don't know how."
My hubs got into the cage to show him what to do and the rest was history.  Well at least for a week, after a week he would race home after school asking if we could go to the batting cages again.  And we told him if his homework was done before the place closed yes.  His homework sometimes takes him until bedtime to get done so it was quite some time before we actually went to the batting cages again.  Since the lice incident we haven't gone back cause I fear the creepy crawlies.  He needs his own helmet really.

Abstract art; I don't get it.
Shortly before school started we asked Andy what sport or physical activity he wanted to sign up for.  He had a variety of options: soccer, tae kwon do, tennis, swimming, karate and basketball.  He declined all of the options we had looked at available through the city.  He basically said he hated all sports so he would not like to participate in any.  He is an only child and if we keep him at home all the time, he may not learn the social skills he will need later in life.  He is already lacking so many social skills.  So we told him the first sport that was offered through the school he would have to do it.  As it so happened the first activity they sent a flier home for was basketball.  He pitched the biggest fit when he learned I had signed him up for basketball.  I told him we had given him the option to choose what he wanted.  And since he didn't pick something I signed him up, as promised for the first school offered activity.  Lucky for him basketball wouldn't start for several months (more on that later).  A blog post in the works that will sound like one of GaijinWife's bollocks posts.  I actually get to rant about basketball bollocks!  Suffice to say I can now truly empathize with mothers/fathers that have their children signed up for enrichment activities so their children don't grow up feeling cheated as a youth (looking at my brother on this one).

A rainbow on our walk.
We did, however, sign him up for two art classes.  One was a class focusing on the abstract art of Wassily Kandisnky.  The class managed to hold his attention for almost the whole length of the class.  He seemed to start drifting away from his project about the last 20 minutes or so.  But he enjoyed the class and asked if he would be taking more art classes.  On the way home we told him that he would be starting a pottery class soon.  The class is almost over now but the instructor is very pleased with his work.  Maybe art is something he will continue to be good with.  Looking at his "drawings" I would never have guessed he was very good at art.  Maybe that's why he is so good at abstract art?  No matter, we actually found something he likes AND is good at.  Now when someone asks me to name something Andy does well, my answer won't be, "Clogs the bathtub with my tampons."  As soon as he brings home his projects I will probably post what he has created.  The mister says he is really good at using the potters wheel.

Since I have been so distant with him, I have been trying to think of things to include him in that he may possibly like.  And sometimes I like to go on long walks.  So I started inviting him to go on nature walks, neighborhood walks and hikes with me.  He drives me completely mad to the point of wanting to rip my hair out but he seems to be having fun at least.  I have not recently taken him anywhere after my last run since he behaved really poorly.  I could say I don't understand but I get it.  To him I am The Interloper, though he did not have his father in his life for almost a decade.  Between his mention that I should move out, he also thinks that when I move out, his mother will move in.  I understand he is resistant to having me be part of his life and be married to his father.

Non-toxic doesn't mean it still won't choke you.
Silly kids, I had to explain, AGAIN, that the apartment is mine not his or his fathers.  So if in some parallel universe his mother were to join his father it would not be in MY apartment.  I digress, getting back on topic.  He expressed interest in a one-mile, fun run.  So I signed both of us up for it.  Before the fun run he joined me on some of my after work runs.  He could use more exercise -_- his first mile running with me took him somewhere around 20 minutes.  His running times did improve and though he was fairly winded after the fun run he did say he enjoyed it.  I was not only winded but parched due to the colorful, non-toxic, powder that was thrown about before, during and after the race.  Way to close my airways!  After the run Andy even expressed interest in creating a dailymile account and joining me running more often.  I don't mind him getting out of the house and running.  He may come to enjoy it as much as I do.  I am thinking of signing him up for a 2 mile run next month, THINKING about it only though.

To be continued...

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