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The Psyche & Mrs. Fartbrain

The Psyche

According to his occupational therapist he was ready for school…

After a post each on music, homemade bread and pot, the time has come for something of a slightly deeper nature:

The psyche

  1. The human soul, mind, or spirit.
  2. (chiefly psychology) The human mind as the central force in thought, emotion, and behavior of an individual.  (source: Wiktionary)

Ha, as if I am equipped to talk about that!  Well yeah, as a layperson I can give it a bash, surely?

The Psyche Perceived

Before I decided whose psyche I was going to blather about, my young, six-year old son popped into my head (‘t was 1994).  He was ready for primary school, according to his occupational therapist whom he’d been seeing for close to two years due to fine and gross motor coordination problems.

“His strengths will carry his weaknesses,” she said, suggesting that his intellect would make up for his shortcomings, such as severe shyness while his motor coordination was still far from optimal.

I didn’t believe a word of it.  But dad embraced the advice and who was I to go against an expert?  I had never been the mother of a six-year old before and didn’t know that what I thought had merit.  Could a mother really hold her son back a year against the advice of an expert and the wishes of his father?

I thought he should rather wait a year.  There would have been a perfect place to do this.  At the same school was also a grade 0 for five-year olds as well as six-year olds who were not yet ready for grade 1.  I longed for my child to go to grade 0.  Let him mature a bit first, I figured.  But I felt that I did not have a leg to stand on.  After all, it was ‘just’ a hunch.


In hindsight my psyche had gauged my son’s psyche perfectly well: grade 1 turned into an utter disaster.  He was extremely unlucky to have an old cow of a teacher, at 64 one year away from retirement and clearly hating every minute of her last year.  Several times at seven thirty in the morning when I dropped off my son (how ridiculously early!) I saw her being irritated with the kiddies and also scream at them when they were doing something they weren’t allowed.

Download as poster, also ‘bed’ – letter reversal games

Almost three months after he had been in her class she asked for a meeting with me.  She gave me the rundown of my unruly, badly concentrating, class-disturbing child who didn’t know on which side of the stick to put the round part of the P.

I was flabbergasted.  Had she not read the extensive report I had written upon registration?  Two pages of information I had filled in about his two years in therapy in response to Is there anything in particular that you want us to know about your child?  I had listed areas in which he was weak as well as the reasons why he had been (and still was) going to occupational therapy.

She hadn’t read a single word of it.  <Still shaking my head.>

The kids disliked her intensely too.  When my son had schoolfriends over to play they called her Mrs. Fartbrain.
I let them.

How the troublemaking twit became an avid reader

From seven till nine years old he had two full years of special education after which he went back to mainstream.   At the school much encouragement was given to read.  “And remember children…,” the head mistress would remind them once more at term’s end, and the kids would chorus, “Read! Read! Read!”  For two years he devoured every single Goosebumps he could get his hands on and then moved onto the Lord of the Rings.

Back at the ‘normal’ school he was lucky with teachers this time (Mr. “H,” who also became his drumming teacher!) and did well until he went to highschool where he was placed in a class of high achievers.  Just because he had given all the right answers to a bunch of questions on a questionnaire.

IQ or EQ?

That is the question.  I bet ya that the questionnaire merely tested his IQ.  Never mind how much homework he would be saddled with.  It didn’t take long for him to hate school all over again.

Did his Fartbrain year set him up, or would he have suffered from the I-Hate-School Syndrome no matter what?  That’s another question…

Damaged psyche?

Frankly, I think it damaged his psyche, that Fartbrain year, but that ultimately he would have needed special education anyway.  I don’t think that a year to mature would have done away with the issues he had.

But, to hate school like he did… well, wow, I just googled ‘why kids hate school’ and hit upon an excellent article (link below). I speedread it and immediately found the answer to my question:

… developmentally inappropriate teaching techniques can destroy a child’s self-worth right along with his love of learning…

Psychological war – the highschool years

The games people play (of which they don’t know that they’re playing them).  Only onlookers recognise them.  My son and his dad played the game of Schoolwork War (besides Warcraft).  A high-achieving dad with a seemingly indifferent and apathetic son under one roof is a disaster waiting to happen.  Again I was powerless because dad did things in his own (read: autocratic) way and refused to believe that his son was rebelling.

It was a lose-lose situation.  At 19 my son graduated by the skin of his teeth (I’m quite sure the school made him do so in order to be rid of him and his meddling father!)  :)

Free at last!

Sonny-dearest was not interested in university, or actually, he did not know what he wanted to study, and the war came to an end.  He mentioned casually that he was quite surprised that one had not killed the other during his last year of highschool.

 ~ All is well that ends well. ~

Is it really?  See also my post Parents.

Why kids hate school (parenting.com)

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Comments on: "The Psyche & Mrs. Fartbrain" (8)

  1. Great post!! I hope your son is doing well now and finding his niche!

    I was very lucky with my teachers; very few bad ones (and even those weren’t horribly bad). And reading, oh, yes, that was a real godsend for an inquisitive kid with horrible hearing!

    Funny that you mention IQ vs EQ. I was working on a future post last night where it came up. Not sure if I’ll ever post it; it sounds too much like bragging, but it’s really quite the opposite. Supposedly I have a very high IQ, but I’ve come to realize I have a conversely low EQ. Probably very low. Given the option, I would be hugely tempted to trade them. The IQ made my work life good, but the EQ made my personal life a disaster.

    • I do hope you’ll complete the post on IQ vs EQ! Although it is better known than two decades ago I suspect that many people still don’t take into account what it means to be dealing with someone who has very high IQ/low EQ (as low as 0, ha ha!). Thing is, as you have a high IQ but claim to have a low EQ, I don’t know how complete the article will be… You’d have to perhaps include information from others who have a high EQ. I first became aware of EQ, some 15 years ago, when I read an article which claimed that many organisations were more interested in an applicant’s EQ than IQ when it came to managerial positions. Makes sense eh?

      My son also has high IQ/low EQ. He claimed that his dad’s EQ=0, because he once blurted out “What, my dad has emotions???!!!” His dad was socially very awkward. Of my son I’ve said (but not to him) that he was socially inept. It was very hard to witness. I suspect that you are not socially awkward (quite the contrary), but that your ability to empathise is limited.

      A person with low EQ finds it hard to empathise (and with 0 EQ, impossible). They may be sympathetic (to the underdog for instance) but rarely find it easy to imagine what another person is feeling. My 20/20 vision afforded me insight into what is most probably the reason why my son and his dad are that way. They have Asperger’s Syndrome (it’s hereditary). The beast has to have a name, I suppose. I see them in a different light now. Damn shame it shone so late, especially in the case of my son.

      I read an article today in which a neurologist claimed that the IQ can be trained with exercise, so the same must be possible with the EQ? For what it’s worth, my EQ is quite high and I’m an empath to boot – sensing vibes easily and so on. My personal life hasn’t been better than yours. :P It was interesting though, ha ha! Varied too. Can’t have it all…

      • If I do write that article, maybe I’ll ask you to collaborate! As I understand it, a low EQ doesn’t imply having no or low emotions, it means the inability to manage them and identify them in others. Do I have that correct (maybe I’m applying the term incorrectly to myself)? I am certainly a very emotional person, and control has been an issue.

        I wonder if detecting emotion in others and social graces could be something you can learn intellectually. I have a long-time friend with Aspurger’s (he was recently diagnosed; his son has it much worse plus ADHD; much further along the autism spectrum). I think I’m fairly good as sensing what people think, but terrible at avoiding giving offense. My friend mentions that having Asperger’s means he has no clue what others actually feel, which makes me wonder what gaps I might have with regard to empathy. If I had greater empathy would I be less inclined to speak my mind? No clue!

        I agree completely about the hiring thing. I’ve recognized for a long time that, at work, they care more about “getting along” and “not offending” than they do about excellence or quality. (That I just quoted those two may reveal not just my distain, but my inability with them!)

        I do wonder why I have so much more feeling for dogs and other animals than for people!

    • About your last comment, this requires some thinking! I am not an expert, I’m just opinionated. ;) In a nutshell: With greater empathy, would you be less inclined to speak your mind? Perhaps over time, yes, after you put your foot in it for the umpteenth time, ha ha! I have a lot of empathy but I’m also very direct. Only because I’m older and have begun to see the futility of always speaking my mind do I shut up more and more because result=0.

      If you do want to send your IQ/EQ post into the ether and me to collaborate, I think we should each read (at least) this lengthy writing ‘Rational and Emotional Intelligence’ and compare notes. Could give us better insight into our own psyche, I reckon! http://www.lucidpages.com/intel.html

      On another site I found this shorty about EQ: Understanding yourself, your goals, intentions, responses, behaviour and all.
      Understanding others, and their feelings.

      Human relations are almost always complex. Animals are often easy to love and they love you right back, unconditionally to boot. No wonder that so many people say that they love animals more than people. I am besotted with one or two of mine. But could we live with just our pets? Can they sustain us? In my experience and opinion: absolutely not. Animals provide escape, but most of us do need the human interaction (but not necessarily share a roof with another human being!).

      • About your last comment, this requires some thinking!… :)

        I want to read your link and get back to you. (I have an early Monday meeting; callback on the interview from last week. I’m thinking it will be a job offer, so things could change for me rapidly. I want to try to prepare a few posts for the week,)

    • Good Luck!!! I’ll be lying a bit low on the blog front this week. It’s been distracting me from business dealings more than I can afford… See you soon!

  2. Don’t even get me started on the school thang because when you have a great teacher, it is such a blessing. But when you don’t, aaaaargh!!! Crazy mommy me is let loose and it ain’t pretty!!! Bless his heart. So glad he graduated. I think that is a fantastic achievement!

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