Homeschool Mother’s Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit

I’m well aware that my words shape who my children become. I hate to start off so heavy, but my words matter. Not just the words of instruction, encouragement, and general conversation that happen during our days together, but all the words. Even the ones that come without a second thought.

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I was reminded of how much power my words carry last week. I didn’t know it at the time, but I hurt my son. In fact, I downright broke his spirit. It wasn’t my best mom moment, that’s for sure.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal:
The Time I Broke His Spirit

I can handle noise and chaos fairly well, but there are times when my brain feels like it will combust if I hear one. More. Sound. Between the television, video games, apps, interrupting, and the talking about said electronic noisy things, I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of a pinball game. Tell me I’m not alone here.

Between the TV, video games, apps, & talking, it feels like I'm in a pinball game. #parenting Click to Tweet

A couple of weeks ago I was having a particularly hard time dealing with the pinball game environment after we finished our homeschool plans for the day. I had a not-so model combustion moment where I insisted that the kids turn off the devices, the brainless TV show, and find something productive to do.

After that, I went through my day and all was well. All was well for me, but not so much for my my ten year-old son. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that until nearly dinner time when he asked, “Mom, do you think The Blaze is brainless?”

The Blaze and the Tears

To understand why that question about The Blaze was such a big deal, you need to understand that The Blaze is my son’s book. In all honesty, it’s probably more of a series of books, but it’s the project he’s been developing, writing, and illustrating for more than a year. It’s his imagination, his heart, and his dreams poured out onto pages in notebooks and sketchpads.

To put it simply, The Blaze is his baby. It’s my baby’s baby.

When he asked if I thought The Blaze was brainless, I started connecting the dots. I instantly reassured him that I don’t feel that way about the story he’s telling and how proud I am of his work on it.

Homeschool Mother's Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit

That reassurance was a weight off his shoulders because that’s when the tears started flowing. He looked up at me and said, “Okay, I’m glad because that’s been beating me up all day.” A comment that seemed like a molehill to me, was more than a mountain to him. I broke my big-hearted boy’s spirit that day.

The Words We Choose

I sat down with him and had a long talk. There were lots of tears, hugs, and apologies on my part because I didn’t choose my words wisely. But here’s the thing, it all went back to brainless. It was me labeling his TV choice as brainless earlier in the day. In homeschool speak, it called his Pokemon episode twaddle and it was incredibly hurtful to him.

To me it was noise. It was brainless TV with no educational content and therefore no value. To him it was inspiration for his story. What I deemed brainless, he deemed educational because it was demonstrating the creative process and the skills needed to build his story.

Homeschool Mother's Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit
He enjoys watching Pokemon, don’t get me wrong, but he also watches to learn in a way that’s beyond my understanding. When I called it brainless, he heard more than that. He heard stupid and deduced that The Blaze is stupid by default since Pokemon is an inspiration for his story.

When I say I broke his spirit, I’m not exaggerating. Brainless was the worst word I could’ve used that day. I missed the connection from the inspiration to the project and devalued his dream. Ouch.

Assigning Value in
All the Wrong Places

I have daily conversations with my kiddo about The Blaze and I find him sketching his characters and scenes all the time. I even find him researching to understand historical context since his story involves some time travel.

I see those things regularly, but I somehow missed the inspiration for it all. When I broke his spirit, I learned I had made this mistake before.

When he listed all of his inspirations for The Blaze, I realized that I previously labeled nearly all of them as brainless in past moments of parental combustion. The only ones I never criticized were The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. Let’s just call it: I only found value in what I personally enjoyed.

Homeschool Mother's Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit
As he went through his inspirations, he explained what he gleans from them all. I was amazed. He found legitimate value in all of them where all I saw was flashy lights. He followed the storyline through the seasons, understood the way it builds, and instinctively used it to guide the way he writes his own project. That’s not so brainless after all.

I learned an important lesson the day I broke his spirit. I learned that there’s value outside of PBS Kids and documentaries. More importantly, I learned that my words matter and that my opinions carry more weight than I ever imagined. I’m just glad I had my ten year-old help me understand it all.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal:
May 2017

Do you have a spirit-breaking experience you care to share? What lessons did you learn? Share them in the comments below and let’s learn from each other.Homeschool Mother's Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit

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9 thoughts on “Homeschool Mother’s Journal: The Time I Broke His Spirit”

  1. I’ve been guilty of this with my 9 year old. He really tries to explain how he builds his videos and animation games. Most times I only half listen,or give the obliging “wow”! He told me,no, it’s not wow yet Grandma! Just try to pay attention. That stuck with me. Now, I really try to follow what he’s building.

  2. Oh, this is something I so needed to hear. Sometimes it can be so easy in the busyness of life to blurt things out without thinking. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Emily this was a great reminder. I need to work on seeing value in things I may not deem important. Thank you!

  4. The creative process is very interesting. The difference between a brainless activity vs an inspirational moment is all in the eyes of the beholder. It is great how your son watches successful cartoons to see how the story develops over a season. He may enjoy reading screenwriting books. Even if he is not interested in writing movie scripts, the screenwriting books go into the create process of developing a story. Save the Cat is a good book you may want to check out at your library.

    1. That’s a great suggestion, Christopher. He’s read several books about writing comics and things of that nature, but never screenwriting. I’m off to check out Save the Cat right now. Thank you! 🙂

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