I did one of those things today that parenting books and experts always tell you not to – I got over-involved in my daughter’s school project.
It’s a major project due for a major program she is involved in. It’s a big deal that she is on this program, but she treats it as part of her normal school, so she gives it her normal level of care and attention.
Our assessment of this ‘normal level’ varies wildly. While she would probably say she does enough and her grades are fine, I say she does a half-hearted effort at the last minute which is well below her ability.
In reality, we are both probably correct.
With her major assignment due tomorrow, I finally pinned her down and convinced her to read through her Powerpoint presentation for me.
Clearly she hadn’t proof read it, or if she had, she’d decided the small typos weren’t an issue. She didn’t capitalise her last name. Spaces inside the brackets instead of outside the bracket. Starting a sentence with a lower case letter.
I wanted her to fix them, which she did without complaint.
But then I realised there was a major point she had missed – maybe she had thought it too obvious to include, or maybe she hadn’t made the connection yet. Either way, my suggestion was met with an eye roll, and then she rolled off the chair to play with the puppy.
On her last assignment she had received a comment about her bibliography being incomplete. I asked to see it. It was a few dot points that listed the URLs of two websites, then ‘google’ ‘google maps’ and ‘google translator’ making up the last three items.
She’s ten, I get that. Apparently they haven’t actually taught the kids what a bibliography is (so she says) but if that’s the case, then I don’t think they should assess them. Either way, I’m pretty sure listing ‘Google’ as a reference is not considered the height of academic authenticity and I may have said that.
So she left. In a huff. With yelling.
More yelling (hers and mine).
She wanted comforting, so she grabbed the dog.
The dog didn’t want comforting so she bit my daughter.
Now my daughter was angry not only at me but at the dog, and kept chasing her and yelling at the dog, and I was chasing her and yelling at her. The other two kids were open-mouthed, watching us run around the couch like something out of a cartoon. It would be stupidly funny if not for the words we were shouting.
‘You’re trying to make it your assignment, Mum. It’s not mine anymore,’ she finally screamed.
I stopped. She was right. Totally 100% correct. I was trying to correct her ten year old mistakes and omissions and add the knowledge of a forty year old.
A forty year old who was making a rookie mistake: don’t do their work. Don’t even try ‘to help’.
Keep your fingers awaaaaaaaay from the keyboard, lady.
It pained me (it actually pained me!) to select ‘don’t save’ as I removed her USB from the laptop, but she needed to submit her own mistakes, not my corrections. [She refused to come back in the study at this point.]
There are two possible outcomes tomorrow. The first is that her teacher is happy. The second is that her teacher isn’t happy. If it is the first, then I will be happy for her, and know that next time I should definitely keep my fat trap shut. If it’s the second, then she may feel upset or embarrassed. She will learn that she might need to work harder next time. She will learn (hopefully) from the experience and she will be better for it.
The bigger lesson in all of this is that I need to trust her more. I think as a parent I was right in offering advice and pointing out where she could improve. It’s her choice whether or not to take that on.
I said at the beginning it’s a big deal she made it into this program - she’s bright and they saw something special in her. I need to sit back and let her make that something special shine. Even if it means sitting on my hands.