This is a common experience in starting RPM (My experience, but others starting RPM have said they had similar): When you go see Soma for the first time, you are amazed beyond your wildest dreams of what your son or daughter is capable of doing- learning from grade level material, spelling, adding numbers, taking tests. It is as if you are seeing your child for the first time. The world is new and you can’t wait to discover more and more of your child each day. You come home exhausted, but jubilant. You show your camp videos to friends and family. Everyone is in awe.
The next day you are eager to start the lesson you carefully crafted. You have the table set up just as Soma did- paper, pencils, tape, stencils, and lesson plan neatly arranged just so. You bring your child to his “office,” a private nook with few distractions. You excitedly call to your child, “it’s learning time!” and lead him by the hand to the table. Your child sits well for about one minute. Then he starts sliding down his chair. “Sit back up,” you instruct. You get to your teaching with choices. He is getting everything wrong. You are starting to get frustrated. “How come you knew this with Soma?” you breathe out loud. Now your child is no longer pointing with the pencil, but biting it with all his might. “Give me the pencil,” you half yell, “try again.” Your child starts to protest, first with a moan, then a full out wail while grabbing your shirt collar. You get in an all-out wrestle to keep him from ripping your shirt. You’ve had it and so has your child. You let him run off while you regain your composure. You want to cry. For days, maybe weeks, it goes something like this, until…… (I will resume the story in just a bit)
Philip and I are approaching one year of doing RPM. It has been the most amazing year. He has conversations with me daily. There is a transformation in the household, a feeling of increased closeness between each family member. Today I asked Philip about the early days of RPM. I told him I wanted to help another mom understand why her son resists.
Lisa (Me): Why is it when you worked with Soma you did so well, but when you came home, you didn’t do well at first?
Philip: IT IS TIME TO MESS AROUND.
L: So you thought home is a place to mess around. Are you glad that we structured it so that a time at home is for learning too?
P: Y. IT IS TO MY TALKING THAT ERASES MY NEED TO TEST A MOM.
L: You were testing me? Why?
P: I WANTED TO SEE IF YOU STOP
L: Why? (now it is my turn to be asking why a lot)
P: AT THE TIME I WANTED TO STOP.
L: Why did you want to stop?
P: IT SEEMED TOO HARD.
L: Are you glad we didn’t stop?
L: What made it easier?
P: A LOT OF TIME TO DO IT
You eventually get over the hump. At one point, it just clicks- like riding a bicycle or driving a car. Today my friend Nichole, a professional photographer, did a photo shoot of my daughter Ana for her senior pictures. Afterwards we chatted for a bit. She told me it took her a long time to learn to use her flash so that she gets the beautiful pictures she now takes. She practiced over and over and over until one day it just clicked. She got it and it became second nature. She says now she can look up tutorials on the computer for advanced uses of her flash and she picks it up very easily. As she told me this, I thought, “It’s like RPM! There is a hump one needs to get over before he or she can flourish as a communicator.”
So my advice to all the new RPMers out there is this: Don’t give up. Don’t give in. You and your child will get over the hump if you persevere. What’s waiting on the other side will be so worth it!
In Corrales, New Mexico