Trying not to turn Air Force One into a helicopter
As he "researched" information for his first-ever report - one page on a historical site, with a picture from which he could create a drawing - a photo from President Obama's recent trip to Prague caught Big Guy's eye.
"Hey! I'm going to write about this," he declared. He had that certain set to his jaw that told me he wasn't interested in dissenting opinions or contradictory information, such as the inconvenient fact that Air Force One is a thing, not a location.
Never mind that it was Tuesday and he'd already written three sentences about the White House. Air Force One he said, Air Force one it was going to be. I frantically tried to Google up a rationalization - surely there has to be an Air Force One in a museum somewhere. I found one at the Reagan Presidential Library. Yes!
Now, back to our research. Er, his research. Er, my research to be perfectly honest about it.
And I hate that with ever fiber of my helicopter-abhorring body. I was landing in a place I'd vowed to avoid at all costs: The militarized zone of parents overly involved in their kids' homework.
It's not as if I don't put in my time. I log up to an hour every day, plus or minus depending on how long Big Guy decides to protest. Most of that 60 minutes, though, is spent puttering around the family room and monitoring to see that he sort of stays on task.
This week's report, though, could not possibly be completed without serious hands-on-keyboard time for me. Maybe there's a super-gifted first-grader somewhere who could fly this whirlybird solo, but not Big Guy.
He knows the basics of how to search - at least he does when he's motivated to find something on YouTube or Netflix. He reads at above grade level, so he probably could have muddled through what he/we/I found on the Web if the mechanics of reading type on a screen hadn't thrown him.
The rest of it, though, would have flummoxed him. Take notes? Turn the notes into something coherent? Finish it all without copious amounts of coffee and an all-nighter, like his mom used to do in college? No way.
I finally hit on a hybrid system. Does that make me a hovercraft? That might be worse than a helicopter.
We buddy read the articles, then I asked him what he thought was interesting or important. I took notes from what he said, trying mightily to make them incomplete-sentence gibberish so he'd have to write his own sentences.
I didn't completely succeed, which caused him to look at the fragments, scratch his head and say, "What am I supposed to write here?"
Dang it, child, don't ask me. It's supposed to be your report.
Or is it? I'd questioned that from the second the note about the assignment came home with the sentence "you will be completing a virtual field trip."
I'll admit, I learned something from my involuntary trip on the Chinook. Did you know that FDR was the first president to fly while in office? Or that the designation Air Force One came during the Eisenhower administration, after a mix-up over call signs sent a commercial plane into presidential air space?
As for Big Guy, he thinks a plane with an operating room is cool, and he's waiting for Obama to invite him aboard.
I fear that what he'll remember most, though, is that his reports are Mom's job, too.
Holy Black Hawk, Batman. That is not the message I want to send.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.