Have I told you this story?
If I know you in real life, I probably have:
When Violet had just turned 6, she took golf lessons. She was really interested in golf, and was excited about the class. I so vividly remember driving home one day, asking her about the class, how she liked her teacher, what they did during class (I was walking Victoria around in the stroller, myself).
Then I asked her, “So does your teacher ever give you tips or suggestions on how to hit the ball a certain way, or swing the club.”
“Yes,” she said, with some distaste. “And it is getting Really Annoying.”
I tell this story a lot because I think it expresses something Very Violet. And I told her this story today, after she repeatedly argued with me about following her teacher’s directions for practicing a particular piano piece.
She loved the punch line, laughed in surprise, and then laughed in recognition. When I said, “So I think you have always kind of disliked taking instruction,” she kept on smiling and laughing and said, “Yeah, I guess so!”
That gave us a good opening to talk about her resistance to taking input from people with more experience, without a lot of yelling (on my part). We noted that her education was largely structured to allow her a lot of freedom and independent learning, but that she could also think more about being flexible in the way that she learns.
This was just today, so I did not have a brilliant 5-point strategy for how to implement any of that. What I hope we did accomplish was getting both of us to recognize that disliking being told how to do something is a pretty firmly ingrained part of her character — it doesn’t have to be a character flaw, or willful disobedience, just part of who she is and how she is likely to stay, to some extent.
I hope our next steps can include talking about what she doesn’t like about taking instructions, whether there are times when direction hasn’t bothered her, and what our options could be for making taking instructions more bearable. I hope we can both be more flexible — that I can find more times to let her do things her way, and that she can separate her preference for going solo from acting out when she doesn’t get her way.
I can’t tell — is this child tailor-made for unschooling, or does stubborn, willful indifference to the knowledge and experience of others disqualify her? 😉