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Home » 9to5to9, School days

Helicopter, tigers and slackers, oh my!

Submitted by on Wednesday, 9 February 2011 No Comment
I am not a helicopter mom. In fact, once I get past freaking out at the amateurish nature of the guys' "made it myself" art projects, I silently mock picture-perfect productions that scream parental micromanagement.

I am not a tiger mom determined that her child never fail, nor am I naive enough to think that my kids are going to be the "best" at everything. Or at anything, for that matter.

I do believe in letting the guys flail. That's why Boots was 15 minutes late for soccer practice the other night, as I sat and shrugged. "I don't know where you shin guards are. I haven't been wearing them."

But yet ...

I check Big Guy's homework most days. Not every day, because I'll go through spells of "let him experience the consequences" on days when he pushes me a tantrum too far. Let him stay in at recess if he's that determined to blow it off.

If Big Guy brings home a ridiculously low grade, I'll go over the paper with him to whether the problem was rushed sloppiness or not grasping the concept because he wasn't paying attention in class.

And I'm not fooling either guy one bit with my sudden fascination with cleaning up the kitchen every afternoon as they do their homework on the other side of the counter.

I can't figure out if that makes me a helicopter in denial, a declawed tiger or alternately lazy and deceptive.

Whatever my problem, it's one my mother never had. Back in the day homework didn't begin until fifth grade. In this era, it usually starts by the fifth day of kindergarten. I guess it's easier to assign now that kids don't have to tote stone tablets and chisels like we did.

Even as late as my teens I seldom cracked a book, and no one cared until I got a B in chemistry. It was one of only two B's in high school - the other was in typing, of all things, and I don't know how I was supposed to "study" that without a typewriter - but you would have thought it had sealed my fate as a future welfare recipient based on the reaction it triggered.

That's another reason I try to stay sane about the whole homework and grades thing. Big Guy gets far worse than B's at times. Is it because he was phoning it in or because he didn't understand? That's what I need to find out. Or is "want" to find out? Is it my job to make sure he's paying attention and understands, or is it his? There are automatic consequences for daydreaming at school, but flunking second grade seems a little harsh for a fairly bright kid who, if left to his own devices, wouldn't crack a book until high school either.

And some homework assignments force more involvement than I like. Last year's report on a historic site is a great example. There's simply no way a first-grader could complete that one without serious intervention. I saw the future and it involved me typing term papers at midnight.

Except it turned out that my prophecy was wrong. When this year's report on a historic figure rolled around I did little more  than tell Big Guy how to spell a few names. He did the searches himself, read the articles and took his own notes. When it came time for the final draft, the only help he needed was in spelling "Neil Armstrong," and I blame that on Armstrong's parents. If they'd opted for the more traditional "Neal," Big Guy would have been fine.

I did have to help build the giant paper doll that served as the backdrop for the report, but Big Guy decorated it based on a photo he'd found himself. I'd never noticed that Armstrong's mouth was green during the moon walk, but Big Guy swears that it's so. "You just can't see it under his helmet," he told me.

That's when I knew I'm not really a helicopter or a tiger. I didn't make him do it over, and I didn't re-do it myself. Besides, where's the fun in life if you're a second-grader with a brand-new set of glitter markers and you can't use your favorite color?

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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