Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homework: The "I Told You So's"

There are two "I told you so's" in this one: my own parents laughing at how my behavior as a youngster comes back to me as a parent of a child with similar behavor, and I told you you could do it!

A few nights ago Lindsey was working on her 1st grade homework: measurement. The homework pictured a single crayon which was the same length as three drawn paperclips, then asked the question, "If the book is two crayons long, how long is it in paperclips?"

Lindsey asked me for help; I gave her a method on how she could figure it out and she immediately went to work to on the problem. Two minutes later I hear her yelling, "I can't do it! It's too hard!" and the paper and the pencil go flying across the room.

At this point I can't talk her off the ledge -- she needs to get herself calmed down and I can't help her do it. So I let her sit there in a ball on the chair in frustration. All I could do is say, "Lindsey, I know you are a smart girl, I know you can figure this out." But she won't let me do anything more than that.

After a few minutes Wayne comes downstairs from helping Marissa with something. He picks up her homework that's on the floor and starts to read over what she's done so far. She says in frustration, "You do it for me!" and he says, "Oh, I'm just looking over what you did already."

He proceeds to read each problem that she's already completed as if he doesn't already know the answer, and then reads her answer as if he hadn't known that already, as if she's enlightening him for the first time. Then he finally comes to the question she got stuck on, and he asks her, "So Lindsey, how many paper clips long IS the book?" and she immediately answers, "Six." Her face lit up and she says, "Oooohhhhh!" You could literally see the lightbulb go off over her head. She runs over and picks up her pencil, then finishes the rest of her homework in about 5 minutes flat.

She then comes over to me, shows me her completed homework and says, "Mom, you were right! I AM smart!" and gives me a big hug.

It's times like these that I realize how very differently Wayne and I approach problems, and how important it is that the two of us work together in parenting. I could have never gotten Lindsey to get to that solution on her own -- she just stays too emotional when working with me, or perhaps I focus too much on trying to calm her down. But when Wayne just focused on the work, she was able to put the frustration aside and get it done. What a great Dad!

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