18 May 2009


Sarah had a Spanish project due today. Although she knew about it for several weeks, I only learned about it last week, and not from her, but from another mother. Once I found out, I asked her about it, and then promptly forgot about it myself--my mind's been a bit of a sieve lately; I poured orange juice on Cocoa Puffs this morning--until Saturday, when she called said friend to play, only to find out she couldn't because she was too busy working on her Spanish project.

Ah, yes; shouldn't my daughter start working on that as well? When I told Sarah why her friend couldn't play, and asked how was the work on her Spanish project going, she coolly told me she was planning to do it on Sunday.

This is what was on our agenda for Sunday: Hebrew School, followed by a baptism (I like the ecumenism of this), then a visit from grandparents, as well as a guitar lesson.

I suggested perhaps Sunday might be a bit...crowded, and she should start now. She protested, she was busy, (playing Pop Tropica, I believe).

I asked to see the assignment, and after some rifling through folders, she pulled out a sheet dated April 27, and marked "second copy." (She'd lost the first.) Sarah is whip smart, but lacking in organizational skills. She is in fourth grade now, and I think she is old enough to be managing her school assignments. It is becoming apparent that she is not a natural at this, and I may need to intervene a bit more.

So, after some light maternal coercion, she got to work.

She may resemble me, but this mindset is exactly how my husband is wired. He was the kind of student who got high before high school with his friends (it pains me as a mother to think about this), arrived at school to discover he was taking a standardized test, and still did brilliantly. While I am glad she is confident in her intelligence, and doesn't stress about completing assignments, as her mother, I do feel strongly that you still have to DO said assignments.

I, on the other hand, was a classic over-achiever, and could have had a much more relaxing time during my school years, and possibly skipped graduate school altogether, because it wasn't until I was three-quarters of the way through with my PhD that I realized I was actually a fairly smart cookie, and perhaps I needn't have gone to all the trouble, not to mention stress, of getting this degree just to prove it to myself? But, I was so close to finishing, so I did.

Sarah pulled together the bulk of the assignment in roughly an hour (complete with much drama), and I let her go outside and play.

Later in the afternoon, my next-door neighbor, who is a passionate gardener, mentioned to me that she had almost enlisted Sarah's help with some composting. I replied that it was a good thing she hadn't, as Sarah had had to work on this Spanish project. My neighbor then told me that it was Sarah who had offered to help with the gardening, stating specifically that she had this project and she didn't really feel like doing it, and was "looking for ways to procrastinate." (WTF?)

As a consequence for this lackadaisical attitude, I took away Sarah's recreational computer privileges for the week. This is a particularly effective punishment right now, as she is just beginning to discover the pleasure of emailing and g-chatting with her friends.

But the best part of the story came later in the evening. David and I went out to see The Shins, and at one point I pulled out my phone to make sure our sitter hadn't called. Since I already had the phone out, I might as well check my email. (This is the charm of an iPhone; it does so many things, it is so damn irresistable. Here we are at a concert, and I'm CHECKING MY EMAIL?) In my inbox was a chain letter from Sarah. I was so amused by this that I turned to David, chuckling, and said "Hey, Sarah just got her first chain letter, and she forwarded it to me!"

It wasn't until we got home, and our sitter gave us a rundown of the evening, and she mentioned that Sarah had spent some time on the computer, that the bell went off. SHE'S NOT ALLOWED TO USE THE COMPUTER!

And so, my daughter, in learning about one of the Internet's many delights, hoist herself on her own petard.

1 comment:

  1. Oh God I'm just like Sarah: the procrastination, the drama, the gardening. Please don't take away my recreational computer privileges will you?!