Monday, April 12, 2010

The Search for Passion Continues

Ever since we have had trouble with the Wii in our home, I have noticed that Logan has not wanted to play Chess so much. He has a CD-rom that enables him to learn chess moves and play against the computer but that has been untouched for at least two months. I have been getting a bit worried about this.

Since summer is approaching, I have been thinking about other activities for Logan other than his private swimming lessons of which he has become quite bored. I started thinking about actual chess lessons since I know that Logan really does like it and hoped I could find something affordable in my area.

Luckily, I found a chess class that ran in the Spring for five weeks and they were offering a free trial class. When I called they said that only two kids were enrolled which of course was good news to me. I signed up for the free trial right away.

This was my opportunity to find out if my Logan had a bit of chess genius in him. I knew that he can beat my husband sometimes so I hoped that he might have a real talent that could be nurtured. In truth, I am looking for anything to help get him excited about life. Logan is not a depressed boy by any means but as he gets older, he will have to feel proud of himself in some way because he is starting to realize how hard it is for him to do seemingly simple things.

I feel paralyzed when he starts to cry and tell me that he is stupid. This kind of talk has been coming out more and more lately. Sometimes I think I know what to do in these situations but do I really? Should I be understanding and yet strict and make him do it anyway which is kind of the time he starts wailing with the self-pity? ie. homework, reading a book, finishing his lunch, etc. This is a whole other can of worms which I am still grappling with. I'll write about it hopefully soon.

I was so excited about the chess class. Logan looked relaxed about going too. It was as if he knew that he'd be comfortable there. When he got there, he met the instructor and was allowed to bounce around in the gym area until class started. "PERFECT!" said the OT deity that lives in the back of my brain. Bounce around and then sit down to focus? What could be better?

Within a few minutes, the other kids rolled in and unfortunately, newly enrolled children also showed up so it was five kids in total and not three. I thought it would be okay and Logan sat with his back faced to the gym (good) and across from the teacher (good). I had told the center ahead of time about Logan's issues. The class was almost an hour long but Logan only lasted about 40 minutes. In the world of Logan, 40 minutes is tremendous but still I wasn't happy. I dislike him leaving the class early especially on the first day. It sets a bad tone and tells me that he would likely stay in class even less than 40 minutes if we decided to try again.

Either way, the instructor told me to have him come to the class that took place right after the one we tried. That class is geared for slightly younger children and had only one student in it so in a way, it was better for Logan. Still, I liked the class with kids his age but could feel that the teacher really didn't want him in that class anymore.

Additionally, it was important for me to find out if he thought Logan had any real talent for chess and I was disappointed to hear his tepid response. "He did some things," the teacher said. I didn't completely understand that comment but I guess it basically meant that Logan is no chess genius. I feel embarrassed to say this but I was disappointed. I was hoping that chess might be his "thing." Better chess than say... Mario Kart, cigarettes, and cutting class, right? I know, I am thinking way too far ahead and secretly wishing that chess can prevent possible pot-smoking in the future.

The teacher didn't seem to be enamored of him in anyway either. This was short of inspiring to say the least and really, you have to be a little inspired to put your very distractible kid in a chess class, right? I have also been struggling with these questions: Should this result tell me that I shouldn't enroll him? Should I keep searching for another chess class or maybe not even bother? Does he have to have great talent for something for me to give him a shot at it? What should determine the answer? Tuition? Logan saying he wants to go? I want so desperately for Logan to be proud of himself in something other than Mario Kart (Wii). Maybe chess could be it because swimming doesn't look like it is his thing.

Today I read an article in about a person with ADHD who finally excelled in life after he realized that he could run competitively. His story brought about a lot of comments in the The New York Times' Well Blog when I had first read about him last year. He found his talent when he was a young teen and forgive me for my greed but I would love to have Logan find his "thing" at a much younger age. Tomorrow would be a great time. Kids like mine require so much motivation to move on. Finding his passions and talents could certainly help him go in the right direction. Uh, and it could make my life easier too- I can't help but think that this notion might be propelling me at least subconsciously.

I sincerely pray that both Logan and I (and Kai) will have the ability to find and recognize his passions and talents sooner than later. I also hope that we will have the means to support those talents once my husband and I figure out what they are. Hope it will be something that more closely resembles things like chess or swimming and less like other interesting things such as extreme dirt-biking or speed racing. I suppose there could be worse things than being a race car driver but please oh please God, can you give us the chess and give the race car bug to someone else?

While it's not chess, I think Spencer is very fond of numbers and so his therapist and I use it to motivate him to do other things. Here he is washing his hands appropriately because on the educational flyer that we got from school (that my friend made at the department of health in this city- yes, small world), he is advised to wash his hands for 20 seconds. He sees the number 20 and he is more apt to comply. While he has several delays and his behavior can be whacky at times, I am so happy because he seems to be advanced in early math skills. I basically live with three numbers geeks. When I see numbers, I run in the other direction unless it is a big sale for clothing, shoes, and toys.


Hartley said...

I sure have the same secret wishes for finding Gabriel's 'thing'. It is hard to keep him feeling confident and I want him to feel success in SOME area of his life. I thought Tae Kwan Do would be his thing (he was 3) and I also thought gymnastics would be his thing (he was 6) and this year we did Chess (not his thing, but his brother loved it, then again, Nick is good at basically everything, making things worse for Gabe).

I guess my point is keep trying. Whatever he says he wants to try, whatever you think would be fun, and yes, whatever you can afford. :)

Hang in there -- you are the best 'thing' he has!


Unknown said...

We noticed that Sadie had an apptatude(sp?)for gymnastics when she was not quiet 3 years old. I think it's important to remember that our children being very good at something does not always mean that they are the best, and not everyone needs to recognize their amazing talents, as long as they do and we do. Sadie has had coaches that think she is amazing and some that don't seem to think that she is anything that special...but i think she is extra fabulous! We make sure to keep her in classes that keep her challenged but try to balance that with keeping her with girls that are not 4-5 years older than her. We noticed that just the size of the older girls could be intimidating and we wanted gymnastics to be a social activity for her as well. I purposely put Sadie in make up classes that are below her skill level. This gives her a huge confidence boost! The girls are awed at her skills and the coaches use her as an example. This her her time to shine, rather then her normal class,where she is the youngest, and least focused, with her name getting called constantly.
I would continue with the chess..either the lessons or find a junior high boy who enjoys playing and have him come over after school. If he can play at this age I would say he has a talent worth nurturing. That doesn't mean that no one else has that talent, or that others might not be just as good right now, but who knows, he could surpass them later on. And like Sadie with her gymnastics, he will always be better at chess than his average peer, which is something. Right?


Jenn said...

Thanks Sadie and Hartley for writing. Somehow, badgering the husband can actually be successful. I convinced him to give chess another try. Of course, I asked Logan if he wanted to go back to chess class and he shrugged his shoulders. He clearly doesn't want swimming lessons anymore but a shrug on the shoulder might indicate a "yes but i'm kinda scared" answer so I am going to try one more time. Thanks for the support.