had a brief but intense argument over the girl’s homework folder, which I noticed on the coffee table at the exact moment that the school bus pulled away from the driveway. She forgot it.
Let me tell you something about my girl. She loves homework. She loves school. She has a keen, creative mind, and loves learning for its own sake, but what she may love even more is the positive attention she gets from the adults in that building. It is a tremendous source of pride and confidence for her that her teachers love and praise and respect her.
I don’t ever have to tell my girl to do her homework. In fact, sometimes when I ask her to do her chores, or to go outside and get the stink blown off her, she will remind me that she has not yet completed her homework. She really feels strongly that copying her spelling words three times in alphabetical order trumps whatever other activity might present itself in the evening.
Want to bake some cookies with me, girly?
No, I have homework.
Want to ride bikes to the neighbors and play?
No, I have homework.
Want to go to Disneyworld?
No, I have homework. (Alright. This one might be a stretch.)
She has never, in three and a half years of school, had to be coaxed or even reminded to do her homework. And she has never before forgotten her homework folder.
Her teacher, every Friday, eats lunch with the kids who have turned in all their homework that week.
She has never missed a “homework hero” lunch.
Her teacher, impressed by her consistency, gave her a “free homework” ticket that she used very reluctantly on a busy night a few weeks ago. She was upset to use it, she told me, because she wanted to give him the ticket back at the end of the year, unused, just to impress him.
She puts a fair amount of pressure on herself.
And let’s just all remember . . .she’s 8.
When I saw that folder this morning, my first reaction, since I’ve been a teacher myself and since this is how I was raised, was that she was out of luck. My brain reminded me of all the times I’ve declared my belief in personal responsibility and natural consequences and the damaging effects of rescuing children in this situation.
That lasted all of ten seconds, and then my heart beat my brain into a bloody pulp, and I knew that I was going to take the stupid folder to school for her.
I know better, but I don’t care. This is one of those moments that all mothers have when they realize that caring for actual real tiny humans will sometimes change everything they’ve ever believed about how parenting should be done.
Or at least, that what counts as good parenting one day might not be good parenting the next day, or that same afternoon, or for a different child in the same situation. Parenting is a big jumbly confused mess.
She forgot her homework folder this morning because she was an emotional wreck. Her best friend at school has stopped playing with her at recess for no observable reason, and she is hurt and confused and sad. She cried almost all morning. I held her and talked to her and got her calmed down. We talked about being brave and staying kind and keeping your chin up, that sort of thing, but it is clear she is not going to have a very good day at school today.
I remember those days.
My heart is breaking for her.
And I can’t help her much with that problem.
But the folder. . .well, I can take the folder and give her the chance to focus on one problem at a time.
And I’m going to. And honestly, now that my brain has had some time to think about it, I don’t think this small rescue is going to make her a helpless ninny of an adult, which is what that argument really is about.
But even if it does, at least the helpless ninny will know that she is well-loved.
And I am off to school. . .
(This was originally published on my Little Farm. Growing. blog back in 2010. Hard to believe this kid is going to middle school this year. Sigh.)