When we were on our trip, we were not doing any Chumash. And we were not doing any Chumash over Pesach, so I was a bit anxious to start up again. On Wednesday, 10 yo did his Chumash without any issues, but 8 yo resisted, putting it mildly. He refused, absolutely refused. He slept in (the kids were on Central Time), and then we had coop and then we had tae kwon do in the afternoon, and he just would not do it. I waited, asked, modified, but he was not budging. I told my husband in exasperation that night: I cannot that kid anything! Off to school, or to somewhere!
On Thursday, lo and behold, both boys wanted to do Chumash at the same time. I chose to do it with 8 yo first, and he read that pasuk that he was afraid of the day before. It went so incredibly smoothly, as if this was a different kid. He even asked some good questions, and he was eager to move on further in the story (Avraham pleading to spare the cities for 50 tzaddikim).
Today I had a science workshop for 10 yo, so I was planning on leaving the younger kids with my assistant and just taking the oldest one. I told both boys that I would like to finish Chumash before I have to leave, which gave us plenty of time. 10 yo did his Chumash, and 8 yo refused to do his, again. I said that he cannot play or do what he wants until he finishes his schoolwork (one pasuk of Chumash and parsha, whichever way he chooses). he said that he will do Chumash when I come back. I said that I will not return till 1 pm. he said that he will wait.
When I got back, he mentioned doing Chumash with me, but both 10 yo and I were starving, so we had lunch first. Then I called 8 yo to do Chumash. By this point, my assistant left, and the baby was in the same room, not really bothering us. 8 yo started saying that he does not want to do Chumash with the baby right there. His sister lured 1 yo to a different adjoining room. 8 yo said he does not want to do Chumash with the baby in his line of sight. He also added that he wished the baby was not born. I asked how he would feel if someone said that about him. He buried his head in the pillows.
Baby or no baby, he would not do it. He said that he does now remember the first word ( kicking and screaming on the floor). I asked him to look at it. He would not. I pulled him up and asked him to write down the letters from the word. He kept on screaming. 10 yo wondered when he can watch TV. 8 yo kept on refusing. I asked him to tell me what is the first letter in the pasuk ( beyond elemental). He would not. I took away tonight's dessert ( very un-Alfie Kohn). Nothing.
I got tired of this behavior and sent him out of the house, to cool down. Then I went into the kids' room and discovered a huge mess. Then I took a giant box from the truck that 8 yo just bought with his allowance and filled it up with his possessions: the truck, his animals, DS, tchotchkes from the desk, etc. I made the other two kids clean up the rest of the room. 10 yo asked me what am I planning to do with the box. I said, I am taking these away.
By now, 8 yo was watching through the glass. He also asked me what am I doing. I calmly said: these are going away. If you behave well for a day, you can earn one of these back. If you don't, then you won't.
He chilled, came in, sat down, read that first word, corrected himself, translated the pasuk, read the next one, looked up a few words in the dictionary, translated the second, new pasuk, did baal koreh online.
What the heck?
Some days I feel like I am going insane. Some days this kid will not try at all. Some days, he cannot do anything. Some days, he is so annoying and so obnoxious and so stubborn that I feel that maybe a swift kick the the behind is in order.
Other days, he is the sweetest, most agreeable kid. Some days, he will go out of his way for others and for me. Some days he floors me with his grasp and abilities. Some days he will tell me what is bothering him and we can talk about a plan on how to deal. Some days, I just want to hug him and hold him close.
His possessions are staying in time-out, for now. And I am nowhere closer to figuring this kid out.