Kim Zerbe

I run a business that requires my full attention for 1 week every 6 months
(plus of course other time that I work around things with help from hubby
and friends). But for the 1 main week of my sale I have my Mother-in-law
come to town and watch my 7yo son exclusively. She does a great job except
she feels Damon needs more structure and has taken it upon herself to
"teach" him things she thinks he is supposed to know (according to her
friend who teaches 2nd grade). She printed math worksheets from a web site
and "instructed" him on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and
telling time. She wants to grade him and rank him (he scored 80% on a math
sheet). She has him sitting and practicing writing. She made a "school bag"
to put things in and gives me daily reports of what she made him do and it
just breaks my heart! I don't want this!!! But I don't really have other
options for someone to watch him. She's a good grandma, I know she loves us
all and wants what's best for my son but we don't agree on what that

I gave her passes and asked her to take him to the Children's Museum, ice
skating lessons, an indoor play place, the library and a park, but that
wasn't enough of an agenda for her. He likes to stay home on alternating
days (if we're out and about one day, we lay low at home the next day) but
she prefers to stay busy busy busy every single day. In the past she has
worn him out physically and mentally. I could tell when I got home each
night that he was burned out (she'd be punishing him for his "bad behavior"
after pushing him all day) and I would snuggle with him and read to him (he
still sleeps in our family bed) to calm him down. She talks all the time and
he (like us) has learned to tune her out. I believe my husband, my son, and
I are all introverts who enjoy quiet time at home which helps us recharge
while grandma is an extrovert who draws her energy from being around other
people. We get drained while she gets recharged! We've taken vacations with
her where we need to rest at the end just from being around her so long!

Is there a tactful way to talk to her I believe we are all learning all the
time and I don't appreciate her giving him worksheets? (I'm livid inside but
don't let it show. I want to burn the worksheets and not allow her to watch
him alone anymore, but I know my anger is on the surface. I'm exhausted, we
just finished our big sale and she leaves tomorrow.) Or perhaps I should
mellow out and let it be? She means well. It's only one week every 6 months.
How much damage can a handful of worksheets and "instruction time" do? She
mentioned a web site that has lessons you can click and watch and how some
schools are using it to teach so there's another teacher in the classroom
and I just zoned out. (It might even be cool, not sure why I am so resistant
of any suggestions from her!)

My head is spinning because I cannot seem to see the other options I know
must be out there! Last spring grandma hurt her shoulder and could not watch
him, so I had a friend watch him who runs a day care in her house and has a
son the same age. We've used her before but last year he was 6 and the other
kids his age were in school so he was there with all the "babies" and didn't
have a good time until his friend came home from school and they played wii
until we picked him up. That's the other thing, I had to pick him up because
her service ended at 6pm but we were still working until 9 or 10pm so my
husband or I had to leave and go get him. Once she kept him later and took
him to karate class, but I don't like to intrude on her family time so I
didn't ask for that a lot.

I'm usually ok talking with my MIL about our version of homeschooling, but I
am so worn out right now my brain is not sharp. I'm so close to being
argumentative, luckily I know enough to just back off and keep quiet. Today
I tried to talk to her about how well Damon reads and she wanted to know at
what grade level he's reading. I said that didn't matter to me, I tried to
explain what I've observed about how he can sound out new words so fast
(because he has a huge vocabulary to draw upon, since he knows a lot of
words he can guess based on the context what word it might be and is usually
right and just reads on). She wasn't listening. Apparently knowing his grade
level matters more to her than understanding him and how he reads! She
couldn't just be excited for him that he is reading so well, she wanted to
rank him but I don't get why. So she can say he's at 5th grade for reading
but only 1st grade for math? Would she have him stop reading to work on math
until he tests at 2nd grade level for that? He gets multiplication but she's
upset that he doesn't get subtraction. He understands fractions but that's
not supposed to happen until 4th grade! She really thinks I'm messing him

I know I invited this when I asked her to watch him for a week, but am
regretting it now. I need outside ideas! Please be gentle as I am mentally
drained and not thinking clearly at the moment. J I appreciate your thoughts
or sharing experiences and how you dealt with something similar.

Kim Zerbe

Damon (7.5)

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Joyce Fetteroll

On Mar 22, 2012, at 7:57 AM, Kim Zerbe wrote:

> Is there a tactful way to talk to her I believe we are all learning all the
> time and I don't appreciate her giving him worksheets?

You have an agenda to fix her. And, just as agendas with kids and spouses, they don't work. Pressure to move in a particular direction often causes people to push back and resist.

How well is her agenda to get you to understand how important schoolish ways are working?

You can share what you do with her but let go of expectations of it changing her at all.

> She
> mentioned a web site that has lessons you can click and watch and how some
> schools are using it to teach so there's another teacher in the classroom
> and I just zoned out.

If she were just sharing the website because she thought it was cool, if you knew she had no desire to change you, you'd be less likely to zone out. You might even be open to looking at the site to understand more about her even if the site didn't do anything for you.

That's how unschooling works :-) And that's why teaching can get kids to tune out and turn off.

You've written a lot about *your* reaction to her. What about your son? He's the one spending all day with her. Does he want her to come? Or would he prefer someone else?

If the daycare friend hadn't been available when your mother-in-law couldn't come, what would you have done?

She is who she is. You're asking her to do you a big favor. If you don't like the way she volunteers her time, ask someone else. Or pay her or someone else to follow your directions. That's why employees are paid so they'll do the job the company wants not whatever they want.


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