Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Kids

It is cool to find out how your kids feel about themselves. Even if you are with them everyday and very close to them in the kind of a relationship that unschooling is great at facilitating, you still can't read their thoughts.

Yesterday, I had some time to talk to JoAnn. I asked her what she thought her strengths were. I think it is very important to know oneself, and that includes knowing your strengths and weaknesses. After discussing a bit just exactly what I meant, JoAnn said that her strengths were reading, spelling, making up stories, cooking, and fashion sense. Her perceived weaknesses included grammar, handwriting, running, a bad temper, and shyness. I think that I would agree with her assessment. I would add understanding/relating to animals, a good work ethic, and empathy to her strengths though. We also talked a bit about how some weaknesses were things we just might accept as innate or permanent areas in which we just aren't as good as others while some weaknesses might be things we want to work on so that we can either turn them into strengths or just areas that aren't weak anymore.

Later I talked to Esme in the same vein. She saw her strengths as writing, drawing, fashion sense, and running and other physical endeavors. She did not see herself as having any weaknesses. My take? I would add peacekeeping skills and ability to get along with others to the strengths. I would put moodiness and lack of patience into the weaknesses, but those might be due to her age. (She is 14!)

I attempted to have the same conversation with Lia, and it didn't go as well. Lia is nine, and I don't think that she has as well a formed sense of self as the older girls. When I first asked about her strengths, she said that she didn't have any. That most definitely isn't true! After some thought she said that she is good at singing and doing chores. Those are both true. I would say that Lia's strengths are singing, work ethic, friendmaking ability, outgoingness, and willingness to try new things. She identified her weaknesses as carrying heavy things, acting, and drawing. I don't see this at all. When the groceries get carried in Lia often out carries her 15 year old brother. She is an excellent drawer (although she is probably comparing herself to her older sibs who are all also excellent drawers, especially Esme), and her roleplaying ability is great! I think I am a bit sad that she sees herself as so "ungifted." It must be hard being the youngest. (I am oldest, and I always saw the drawbacks to being the oldest so this is something new for me to think about.) I would say Lia's weaknesses include moodiness (it runs in the family) and stubborness.

Antonio said that he had tons of strengths, but they could mostly all be summed up by saying his intelligence. He said his number one weakness is lazyness, but that he doesn't like to talk about his weaknesses. To be quite honest, I know Antonio the least of all my kids I am not sure that I am willing to make an attempt at his strengths and weaknesses. I do think it ironic that my son, who at one time would have been labeled mentally retarded is now able to count intelligence as his primary strength. Oh the benefits of unschooling!!!

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