I share this because I know many parents have been unwittingly thrown into some kind of homeschooling scenario once again this year. I think the takeaway from this post is: Yes, you will want to rip your hair out sometimes, but in the end the patience (and sometimes lack thereof) and perseverance, coupled with determined expectations, will be worth it.
ON BY ELAINE
You all asked some good questions in the comments yesterday. Careful, or I may just start blogging about food storage and emergency preparedness All The Time!
Ha ha. Not really, though I do have an interesting challenge for you, but I might save it for next week. Or I might throw it out there at the end of this post. We’ll just have to see where the words take me today. First and foremost, however, this post is going to be about the girl who introduced me to motherhood (speaking of words).
My oldest daughter, A~, is very bright. You’re probably all tired of me talking about my Very Bright kids, but it’s the truth, so I’ll save the modest effusions of polite pseudo-denial for real life conversations, and just acknowledge it straight up on the blog.
Anyway, though very bright, she has an amazing talent for saying absolutely nothing while talking prolifically.
Damn. It just occurred to me that she will probably wind up being a politician.
Anyway, the kid talks a lot but doesn’t necessarily say much. She has always been that way, from the time she could first talk. I’ve told you, right, of the time we were on a three-hour trip and she yakked my dad’s ear off nonstop the entire way? She was barely four, as I recall, and her barely two-year-old sister barfed. Literally. A~ didn’t even stop talking when we pulled into a gas station and commenced the cleaning. Yes, yes, I am convinced there is a genetic component to it all. However, the bulk of the blame does not go to my genes. I know what you are thinking:
“Goodness gracious! (because you all are old-fashioned that way) There is someone more pointlessly verbose than she?!?! (because you all have impeccable grammar that way) (“she” being me, of course).
You are only thinking that because my husband doesn’t blog.
At any rate, A~’s genetic talent spills over into her school work, and it is no small source of frustration for the both of us.
Today she brought me a rough draft of a compare and contrast essay. She told me last week she was going to compare and contrast what life would be like if we still had silent movies (and by extension, television) with life as we know it with talkies. I told her then I didn’t think that was the best topic to pick. I told her I thought she might have difficulty coming up with concrete things to compare and contrast.
But no! She assured me, she had Ideas! Lots of them! All her own, all original, nothing stolen or borrowed from a book she recently read in which the characters went back in time to help inspire Walt Disney to add sound to Steamboat Willie so that they didn’t have to live in a world of silent movies.
To her credit, she didn’t steal any ideas.
She did, however, bring me a four page essay in which she tirelessly explains, over and over and over, that if sound had never been introduced to motion pictures, our movies and television would be silent; whereas, since sound was introduced, our movies and television are not silent (this would be the contrast part). Regardless of whether or not they had been given sound, she asserted, we would watch them anyway. They would still exist. We would still like them. They would still be part of our lives. People like movies and television with sound, and people like television and movies without sound (this would be the compare part).
Four pages of: silent movies are silent and talkies have sound, but we like them both.
And did I mention her serial-killer-like handwriting? I totally blame my genes for that one. Good thing I taught seventh grade for a while – it really helps one develop decoding skills.
I tried to explain to her nicely, but clearly, what the problems were with the essay, and she tried to explain to me what an idiot she has for a mother. Her exact words were, “Mom, you’re just not getting it . . .”
Call me crazy, but I somehow don’t appreciate it when a not-quite-eleven-year old child tells me, a how-did-I-ever-get-this-old woman, with an English degree (I know, I probably embarrass all my professors by admitting that on my blog) that my critique of her essay is the product of me not getting it.
I explained to her that no, indeed, she was not getting it, and if she continued interrupting me to tell me I wasn’t getting it then she, in fact, would get something else (as in a trip around the pond courtesy of her own two feet). The injured tears of a pre-teen ensued.
She is now diligently working on a compare and contrast essay about the ancient Olympics and our modern Olympics. Methinks she shall find a little more material to work with there, so I’m glad she came up with that idea. Finally.
2020 Update: A~ graduated in the top of her high school class, was a National Merit Finalist, went to a competitive private university on academic scholarship, and her college roommates wanted her to edit their papers before handing them in, because they’d get a better grade if she went over it first. She got a degree in English and editing in 2019 and, thankfully, has not become a politician. She did, however, help me edit both of my Hector books in her spare time, and she has outgrown her propensity for talking much while saying little. She is a delightful human being of whom I am very proud.
Patience, perseverance, and expectations, moms and dads. Patience (and sometimes lack thereof), perseverance, and expectations.