EVANS: While efforts can seem unappreciated, they serve a purpose

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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Being a parent is tough work. There is not a manual or a how to guide. Children do not come equipped with a book of step-by-step instructions. 

Wouldn’t that be fabulous? As the stork drops your bundle of joy at your doorstep, a package is also dropped off including a manual and everything you will need for the first year. While we are at it, can we throw in a pause button for those nights that you just need to sleep? 

We can read all of the parenting books that we want, check out every one from the library and spend hours memorizing how (insert your favorite famous person here) did it. 

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But the truth is that when it comes time to face your first parental struggle, you will have to figure it out. No two kids are the same. No two sets of parents are the same. 

That being said, the answer to all of life’s problems is not one.

As we set out on this parental journey, there are going to be times when we feel like we have just knocked one out of the park, only to have our kids look at us and go, “OK.” 

Being a mom of boys, this is a regular occurrence. Quite frequently, I put a lot of effort into something that I think will make their day, only to have them stare at me and somberly reply, “OK,” or just walk away. 

Meanwhile, I am standing there, excited enough for everyone wondering if maybe I simply presented it wrong.

I can remember when my eldest was about 7 months old. He was the cutest, chunky baby. Maybe I am a little biased. 

At the time, I was working full-time at a local hospital, putting in my time and coming home absolutely drained. I enjoyed my work, but missed my baby. 

My husband and I had discussed a push toy, something for him to learn to stand and start walking. 

We were, as most men and women are, on two completely different brain waves. He, in truth, had no idea what I was talking about and had in mind a table or something. 

Knowing that my son would love it, I stopped at Walmart on my way home. I could barely contain my excitement as I walked into the house with this box. 

I sat it on the floor with the opening turned away from my son. We sit him down in front of his new toy, and slowly turn it around for him to see. Pure excitement. Screaming in joy, he fumbles with the push toy. He pushes every button, and claps excitedly as my husband opens the box. Not fast enough for the little boy who cannot wait to get at the phone and the opening doors.

Mom win! My husband was astonished by my son’s excitement.

Fast forward a few years. The excitement of a simple walking toy has long worn off, and now my fairly stoic children find almost nothing that I do fun. 

In preparation for school starting, I was mesmerized by the virtual classrooms that numerous teacher friends were sharing. 

I found several websites that discussed interactive slides where kids could label, drag and pair items. I thought to myself, “Wow! These amazing things at my fingertips could change the way we homeschool.” The boys would love it! 

Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. 

I inadvertently spent hours working on individualized classrooms for each boy, filled with links to lessons and videos and assignments. 

Each classroom is filled with cats and goats (things my children love), and my own Bitmoji to walk them through their days. I show each of them and give my husband a tutorial for how it works. 

It’s day three of school, the unveiling of virtual classrooms. I am ecstatic. 

My children, however, are not impressed. My eldest, who is 8 now and in second grade, sits down at the computer. He begins to click away, opening each day’s lesson and video. 

He watches them and he completes them. Some of them he struggles and has to repeat.

At the end of the day, I think things have gone well. He learned a lot, and everything was literally at his fingertips. 

As we sit down to dinner, he looks at me and says, “Do I have to do my class on the computer, or can I just do the workbooks.” Mom fail — at least on the surface. 

Realistically, he learned more that day than he usually does, and he received immediate feedback on what he aced and what he needed to work on. 

Realistically, it was a win, at least in the long run. But in that moment, I couldn’t help but be a little sad that something I thought would be a big hit was nothing more than just more work in the mind of my 8 year old.

The truth is more days than not our children are probably not going to be overly enthusiastic with the things we find interesting. 

More often than not, they are going to at least play it cool and pretend like anything their parents do is not cool. 

Deep down, the things we do are to serve a purpose. Deep down, I think that one day, my boys will look back and remember how hard we worked at making school fun and beneficial for them.