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Help with being assertive (or something)


lovinmyboys
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I’m not sure how to title this. I don’t know if I have always been this way, or if it has gotten worse lately, but I have such anxiety about saying what my family is going to do. 

For instance, today my son (who is in ps 8th grade) had a wrestling meet but didn’t have an opponent and his coach still wanted him to go. DS also has debate class tonight. Anyway, I had been dreading telling his debate coach that he was going to miss for wrestling, because they have pretty strict attendance. Then I found out he didn’t have a match, and it took me like 30 minutes to compose an email telling the wrestling coach he was going to go to debate instead.

Another thing, he is in band and his band teacher wants to know if he is going to do band in high school. I am scared to tell him he isn’t because this band teacher has really gone above and beyond with ds this year. It took me another 30 minutes to compose that email.

It is all such a waste of time. Those are just two examples today. I think part of it is that we have only lived here half a year and I don’t know people well yet, so I feel more uncomfortable. (And this is the first year I have had a kid in school, but other examples are not school specific).
 

It is because I don’t want to disappoint people. But, really, his band teacher and wrestling coach weren’t really going to be that disappointed. I know there are people who would have fired those emails off in 2 seconds. How does one get to that point?

Edited by lovinmyboys
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I think one gets to that point by categorising people's importance in your life, and your importance in their life. Teachers aren't in the category of nearest and dearest. All you owe them is their wages and basic manners. All they owe you is basic manners and doing the job they're paid for. It's a business relationship.

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Your kid's in the 8th grade - is it time to begin offloading some of this teacher communication to him? I mean, obviously you can't have your son handle the plumber or the doctor calls for you*, but there's no reason he could not have been the one to email his coach to say that he was going to debate, or his band teacher to let him know that he's decided not to continue with it and so on.

* Actually you can, this is what my mother mostly did, but you probably should at least wait until he's in high school.

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30 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Your kid's in the 8th grade - is it time to begin offloading some of this teacher communication to him? I mean, obviously you can't have your son handle the plumber or the doctor calls for you*, but there's no reason he could not have been the one to email his coach to say that he was going to debate, or his band teacher to let him know that he's decided not to continue with it and so on.

* Actually you can, this is what my mother mostly did, but you probably should at least wait until he's in high school.

Well, yes I agree he is old enough to handle most of his communications. Wrestling and debate do require a parent to email or call when the student will be absent. I’m not sure why the band teacher emailed me. 
 

But, I feel like I do this a lot in other areas. I just noticed these two today and thought it was such a waste of mental energy. 

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I think what bugged me about my response was that I felt like I was asking permission instead of just saying what was going to happen-he isn’t doing band, he is going to debate. 
 

While I was typing dh called. He said I only get like this about stuff with the kids-I’m worried if he misses wrestling he will have to sit out and so I want to word the email in a way that the coach won’t take it out on my kid. I want the band teacher to still work with him, even if he quits band next year.  And that probably is the problem.

So, lol, maybe I should have just talked to him 

Edited by lovinmyboys
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Would it help to realize that, most likely, the teachers/coach will not be giving this anywhere near as much brain space? In my experience, they sound all serious and no compromise on forms/in emails but that's just to weed out the flakes, in real life they are usually busy people who don't have time to give it much angst. In fact, they probably prefer a brief, clear, polite and matter of fact email, than a long flowery explanation that they have to decipher.

I get it though, I often have to psych myself up for those kind of conversations. Thanks to difficult people in my past, I'm always relieved when someone doesn't call me a selfish b* 😄

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2 hours ago, lovinmyboys said:

For instance, today my son (who is in ps 8th grade) had a wrestling meet but didn’t have an opponent and his coach still wanted him to go.

Will the other team forfeit points for not having an opponent if your son goes? Something like that might be why the coach wants him to go.

Do you usually have a kid in two competing activities? That would be a recipe for me to be edgy and uneasy about being assertive--I would feel like it's partly me for overscheduling, TBH. Three simultaneous activities is...remarkable. At last around here, it's not like they consult each other about schedules. Where I grew up, it would be more do-able because fewer kids means more kids are in multiple activities or the activity wouldn't exist.

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35 minutes ago, LMD said:

Would it help to realize that, most likely, the teachers/coach will not be giving this anywhere near as much brain space? In my experience, they sound all serious and no compromise on forms/in emails but that's just to weed out the flakes, in real life they are usually busy people who don't have time to give it much angst. In fact, they probably prefer a brief, clear, polite and matter of fact email, than a long flowery explanation that they have to decipher.

I get it though, I often have to psych myself up for those kind of conversations. Thanks to difficult people in my past, I'm always relieved when someone doesn't call me a selfish b* 😄

Yes this does help! I feel like this is advice I give to my kids-no one is thinking about this as much as you are. Now I need to apply this to myself 

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15 minutes ago, kbutton said:

Will the other team forfeit points for not having an opponent if your son goes? Something like that might be why the coach wants him to go.

Do you usually have a kid in two competing activities? That would be a recipe for me to be edgy and uneasy about being assertive--I would feel like it's partly me for overscheduling, TBH. Three simultaneous activities is...remarkable. At last around here, it's not like they consult each other about schedules. Where I grew up, it would be more do-able because fewer kids means more kids are in multiple activities or the activity wouldn't exist.

No, he didn’t have a match. The coach just wanted him to go in case someone got hurt or sick.

But, yes, I do think we are over scheduled and it makes me on edge. Mostly it works out, but when it doesn’t I feel guilty because it is kind of my fault. 

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Quote

Wrestling and debate do require a parent to email or call when the student will be absent. I’m not sure why the band teacher emailed me. 

 

You mean the response has to come from your email address. Anybody could send it. I could send it. Your son could send it. The dog could send it, and nobody would know or care.

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5 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

 

You mean the response has to come from your email address. Anybody could send it. I could send it. Your son could send it. The dog could send it, and nobody would know or care.

Confession—there are times when I have told my kids “pretend you’re me and write it like you’re me.” I read it over and hit send.

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1 hour ago, lovinmyboys said:

No, he didn’t have a match. The coach just wanted him to go in case someone got hurt or sick.

But, yes, I do think we are over scheduled and it makes me on edge. Mostly it works out, but when it doesn’t I feel guilty because it is kind of my fault. 

Ok. I thought that meant the other team was missing someone vs. his being an extra. 

If it's really only with kid stuff, then I think maybe identifying the parts and pieces could help--you mentioned not wanting adults to treat your kids differently. If they aren't truly overbooked, maybe just working out some scripts in your mind ahead of time when you see a potential schedule conflict would help. 

I feel like everyone needs a good script worked up for at least a couple of situations in life like this. :-) 

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I fuss over emails like that, too. I find it so much easier to treat it like a business email, and - to be honest - like my DH would write it.

Good morning/afternoon/evening;

DS will not be at wrestling on x day, but will be at practice on y day.
 

Regards,

Arctic Bunny

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6 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

Confession—there are times when I have told my kids “pretend you’re me and write it like you’re me.” I read it over and hit send.

 

We've all done that. My mother used to have my sister write her own absence notes for her, and sign her own permission slips. And, after her stroke, she had my sister endorse checks for her as well! (Never me. NEVER ME. My handwriting, if I work very carefully, can most politely be called "childish". I've had the kids fill out forms for me, though... because  by the time they were eight, either one of them could work more neatly than I could, even if the younger one couldn't spell her way out of a paper bag.)

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8 hours ago, lovinmyboys said:

I’m worried if he misses wrestling he will have to sit out and so I want to word the email in a way that the coach won’t take it out on my kid. I want the band teacher to still work with him, even if he quits band next year.  And that probably is the problem.

 

I totally get this, I am this way as well, and spend so much time like you do making an email sound just right. Time consuming and draining!   It is important that it not be taken out on our kids, because often, it still would, and that is the sad part.

Once, I went against the soccer coach.  My daughter was not a strong player and often sat out because coach played the stronger kids to win at all costs.  She spent so much time just watching. It was frustrating, why not put her in a little here and there?  Anyway, a huge game came along, the last one, districts I think.  But, um, Andrew Pudewa was in town for 1 day only and we had signed up previously for his IEW writing conference! How did I know it would be the same day as a huge game?  I was not going to have my kid sit on the sidelines in a snowstorm just to support her team because it was the thing you were supposed to do. She needed the writing skills way more for her future in college than soccer skills.  So I just told him she wouldn't be there because she had a writing conference.  He looked at me quizzically because either he mistook it for a 'riding' conference, or because no one missed a game for any reason. (I was pretty naive about those things, I never played sports!)   We had a great day at the conference and my daughter actually liked it and told me so. She turned out to be quite a good writer at that and she amazes me still with her creativity!  I never regretted my decision!

By the way, she was home schooled, but played sports at the public high school. But can you imagine if was enrolled there?  No way would she have missed a game for an academic conference, and that is the sad thing.  The real priorities sure get confused sometimes!

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Another one who has been through this! I am still probably too worried about what people think of me, but I've gotten better. I think it's just a matter of things in my life getting very hectic and I legit feel like I'm doing the best that I can to keep everyone happy so no one needs an apology or even an explanation for my decisions. (I probably still over-explain in the emails, but I'm trying very hard to stop apologizing for everything).

For band I would have written, "Unfortunately, our son feels that he would like to pursue other opportunities in high school. But I want you to know how much we appreciate all the extra effort you put into helping DS." Something short but sweet, and a nice note acknowledging the extra attention. It's not a rejection of the teacher, it's just a normal thing that a kid has tried out band and feels it's not for him. There's no reason to apologize or feel bad.

I'm also learning that I'm not responsible for other's choices. You did not demand the teacher's attention, did you? That was his choice to make. He might have hoped that would encourage your son to stay in band, but he can't control the ultimate outcome and as an adult, he should know that. 

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