Thursday, January 27, 2005


I am told (by the principal of YG's elementary school, who should know) that the California 3rd Grade tests are a bear. And of course, we are in the season of ramping up to the tests, so the homework has increased. I am seeing a kind of moral development crisis in my newly-minted nine year old which is fascinating--or would be, if it didn't try my own moral development pretty severely. The kid is very bright. While she doesn't like math particularly, she (like her sister) is pretty good at it. Her verbal skills are scary, and she's got exactly the sort of inquiring mind that can drive a sensitive adult to exhultation or drink, depending. What she doesn't have a whole lot of is organizational skills. Most nine year olds, I would venture to state (given my own experience) do not have a whole lot of organizational skills.

So, at this point when homework is increasing, YG has begun to forget to bring workbooks home, or finds (just as she's packing up her backpack) a whole 'nother worksheet she was supposed to do. Since the consequences of not doing homework are missing out on recess the next day, these forgettings cause tears and outrage and bouts of self-loathing. She knows that she should be doing the work, and feels guilty about her failures, but also wants to blame them on someone else. Anyone else. So the tears fall like rain...

I haven't got much patience these days (I may have had more patience once than I currently do...I seem to recall it) and after the second or third bout of very sincere small-child-being-overwhelmed tears, I was beginning to feel like crying myself. What she would have liked, I don't doubt, is for me to pile her into the car and drive to school so she could fetch home the missing book. And I know that, in theory, the way she'll learn to pack everything is to suffer the hideous consequences of her foul misdeeds. So I did not give in to her unspoken entreaty. Homework is almost done for the day (then there's guitar practice and karate practice to get through, which can be heaven but, after an afternoon like this is more likely to be hell).

Somehow she's going to get to be an adult. I will doubtless be several inches shorter by that time.


Blogger claire said...

Oh babe, courage.

You are doing the right thing. It stinks. She will be pissed. She is learning that she is not The Queen of The Universe. And that Mom sometimes has to be tough to be kind.

She will, of course, grow into a lovely young woman who could be President...or at least a kick-ass Congresswoman. The girl is smart, funny, and cares about the world. She'll do fine.

And I very much look forward to taking her mother out for a long drink in the next month or so...


7:30 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Oh God, homework. In our household, working with Adam on homework gave rise to the old observation that 'no good deed goes unpunished.' But he turned out okay.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother is always happy to have long drinks with good friends, bleeve me.

Maureen, the fact that Adam turned out so well is encouraging, really it is. I take all the positive signs I can get.

Most days the kid does her homework without much stress, but when there is stress it's Big Stress all around, with a double chaser of angst.

8:02 AM  

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