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School Assignments

E had a 3 week assignment to turn in today. She needed to interview an 'elderly' person regarding things when they were her age: favorite toys, books, things to do, their school, their house, what something cost.

Her teacher remarked that over the years she's seen a lot of nice projects completed by parents; please have the child complete the project. So my job was #1 Nag. No one else, including E, was paying much attention to any deadline or assignment. And here I am, the queen of procrastination, going back to my elementary school years. #1 Nag is not a role I fill well. I forgot to nag from time to time. As it was, I finally had to sit her down on Saturday and talk to her about completing assignments. That on Monday, SOMEONE in her class would not have it done. That boy or girl would feel bad and embarrassed. She should not be that person. That was why I was being such a nag.

To give her credit, this message seemed to get through. In an hour, she completed, in slipshod fashion, the project. I congratulated her and told her I was proud of her. She had something to turn in. Now, could we go back and 'try our best' on some aspects of the project, make it better? We still had one day left.

She interviewed her grandmother. My mother claims she does not remember what it was like to be a child, remembers nothing. Put on the spot, my mother was at a loss for words. My mother is NEVER at a loss for words. She said we should interview her grandfather instead, he remembers everything. I said we would, except he happened to be in China for 3 weeks photographing The Great Wall and she was staying with us for a few days.

So one day when I wanted to go for my walk and I was being #1 Nag, they said they would work it out themselves and I should just go, go, go. So I did, did, did. I got back and they said the assignment was complete. Grandma said that it had been easy. Eloise mentioned something she liked and then the memories came back and she found an answer. I said, great. What were the answers? I don't know, both of them responded. Did you write it down? I asked. Nope. [expletive deleted] So they had worked out the answers, but neither could remember them. Back to square one.

About 10 days later, we finally had another break in our schedule and E's homework assignment was to work on her project. So we phoned grandma for an interview. Grandma again denies all knowledge of her childhood. I'm cooking dinner and listening to E interview her grandmother. J is on the extension and he is supposed to be writing down the answers. (No! Don't write the answers on the pieces of paper she's supposed to cut out and paste on the final project as titles!) After much frustration (for all involved), E finishes her interview. She has answers and they are written down.

Five days later, we are down to the wire. I get E large sheets of paper (she picks the colors) to put her answers on, her drawings and some photos she has shot of her favorite toys and such. She will do drawings for grandma and photos for her answers to the same questions. Only where are the answers? J wrote them in a notebook he uses for work. And the notebook promptly went off to work. J claims he emailed them to me. Nope. Still stuck in his notebook. So J types up and prints out the answers to remind E and we paste it on the back of the sheet for grandma. And E completes the project quickly, as noted above. I keep having to step in and supervise and remind E and J of what the assignment is about, what E had decided to do. Keep your eye on the goal. Or more importantly, keep your eye on the child and what she is doing. I had to reprint some photos that had been cut up to the point you didn't know what they were anymore.

Today, turning it in, I am proud to say that this is OBVIOUSLY her work. She has the answers to what everything is that she has drawn. I have gone over the answers, but she has her own stories about them. For grandma's favorite thing to do, she opted to say that 'grandma was talking to people' in her drawing. Well, it's certainly grandma's favorite thing to do.

And looking at some of the other projects, some clearly had parental assistance. They're just a bit too perfect.

Frog Out

PS My mother has arrived at my sister's house in Boston for Thanksgiving and my sister tells me she has been talking of her childhood nonstop since she arrived. They were in the dark as to why until they heard about E's project. We must have triggered some little-used neurons that are now getting some much-needed exercise.