IQ vs. Self-discipline

Needless to say, a morning of scheduled schoolwork is bound to NOT go well in this house.  Mama gets all panicky and goes into teacher/project manager mode rather than Mama mode.  It’s like a flip of a switch.  And then when BigGuy does anything other than sit at a desk and belt out work as if he were in a classroom, I lose it.

Suddenly, he is 20 years older and a bum or a prisoner or living with me for the rest of his life and I’m hearing everyone tell me all the things he could’ve been “if he’d have been in school”… as if this trajectory could be backed by evidence.  And of course, if he enters now and fails miserably it will be because he needed to be in school earlier.  Of course.  Because ya know–it’s not like we had a reason to pull him out, people… right?  People don’t see that.  And those that do would say “But you could’ve put him back in before now.”  No matter what parenting decision you make, it’s just going to be wrong.

Whatever.  His complete lack of discipline or perseverance towards a goal (keep in mind that this was all his idea) make me LOSE. MY. SH!T.  I know what makes a successful person and it’s the ability to face a difficulty and take it on.  Even if you don’t overcome it, just having the ability to attempt getting through it is so huge.  And he completely lacks that.  And it’s so polar opposite to the person I am at my core that I cannot even understand how he will function in life.  Ever.

BigGuy’s IQ puts him in the 99.9% percentile of human intelligence.  This is beyond Mensa.  There are organizations that I didn’t even know existed for this kind of intelligence.  Sometimes, it’s hard to NOT see that he’s a bright kid.  But he also has Asperger’s and sometimes the connections between work and reward/success or other relational connections are completely absent.  I can’t bank on the neurotypical developmental trajectory that would say “He’ll get it someday… maybe at 22, but it will come” because for BigGuy, it truly may never come.  When he was younger, the therapists were so lost because there was no consistent “currency” to work with him–no consistent motivator.  There is no carrot you can dangle in front of him to bribe him; and nothing he loves enough to motivate him on his own.  Truly.  Now, at 10, there are definitely some motivators, but nothing that pushes him hard.  Even his strongest interests do not push him to do simple things if he just doesn’t feel like doing them. So losing his Minecraft time is not enough to make him brush his teeth.  I don’t think you can grasp the gravity of that statement.  It will result in a one-hour meltdown with begging about his being willing to “do ANYthing” to get his Minecraft time, but the offer to let him brush his teeth to get his time back results in him running up the stairs and playing with a Lego or his stuffed Tepig or reading whatever text-based material is within view.  And the reminder that this is what he needed to do to get his Minecraft time results in “OH YEAH!”, but no movement.

You cannot wrap your head around this.  I know you can’t.  And it’s not just frustrating–it’s scary.

I was so thankful to see Time put out an article that (at least a tiny bit) addresses this oxymoron.  Even without Asperger’s at play.  In their article “How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science” they note that IQ is kind of worthless without self-discipline.

“Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”

How do you teach a kid to have self-discipline?  Seriously?  How do you instill perseverance?  We are not indulgent parents and there is a good structure to how our house operates.  We’re not helicopter parents nor permissive parents.  We facilitate our kids making their own choices (and having to stand by them as long as the consequence was foreseeable and not excessively/downright cruel or harmful).  Some kids are just not going to get it.  Especially those with impaired relational skills (and “relational” doesn’t just mean “between people” it means “connecting less concrete things”).

I’ve watched other kids with these issues in the schools and I’m not going there.  People like to tell me that I don’t know that MY kid will wind up like that, but ya know what?  I’m not rolling the dice either.  I’m watching a rather brilliant young man who is VERY similar to BigGuy pretty much fail out of high school for the exact same problems and a mother who has given up trying to find his currency.  I’m thankful to be able to see how his life is unfolding and seeing how removing the things he lives for or holding them hostage are doing absolutely nothing to move him.  Just like BigGuy.  I feel like I can learn from this and feel confident that this is just not going to be the route.

But I don’t know what the route is yet for my guy.  And part of me is heartbroken because I often wonder if the last 4-1/2 years of moving and my less-than-engaging/encouraging/supportive behavior have squashed any potential inspiration and motivation or willingness to chase after his interests with more fervor.  I can’t think about it.  That’s over.  We were in survival mode.  It happened and I can’t change it.

I just need to get back on my horse and leave it alone.  I need to focus on Girly.  I need to do more with her.  If he doesn’t want to work, nobody’s going to make him.  Not here and not at school.  That Cell Biology lab motivated him and I just cannot find a place like that for him to be full-time.  I ache for that for him.  Explaining to him that doing this work would get him to such a place is too far out for him to grasp.

Maybe his sister surpassing his achievements will be the motivator.  Because that kid’s going to knock it out of the park.

And really, if I go back and look at MY goals for my kids, I could give a rat’s ass about any of this crap.  But trying to meet his needs as he has explained them has been rough and it means doing this kind of crap.  Maybe I just need to change my attitude about it.  I don’t know.  I’m having “a day”.  And I love him so much.  I just want to meet his needs.   And hers.


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