Thursday January 26 2012 950 pm
I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will again. How many years have I got until my kids become adults?
This will be quick, though, because as I write this post, I’m waiting for the school bus to pull up so I can have one of those conversations with my children. You know what I’m talking about: the conversations you have 8,617 times between the ages of four and, oh, twenty-one and hope that at some point, they actually stick. The conversations that are about taking responsibility for their belongings and their work and how these actions may seem insignificant now, but they will truly have consequences as they get older.
It’s bad enough that I received a forlorn call from ten-year-old “Jack” this morning, asking if could please deliver his sneakers to school because he’d forgotten them. (And when I retrieved his sneakers from the mudroom, I discovered six-year-old “Emmie” had left hers behind as well.) It’s winter in New Hampshire, kids. You leave the house in snow boots, and the sneakers go in the backpack every day. EVERY DAY. You’re old enough to remember that.
But what irritates me more is the notecard I received from Jack’s teacher with his grade on a recent science project, something to which he’d devoted considerable effort. Jack didn’t do as well as he otherwise might have on this project, however, because, as the card noted, he forgot the data for his project at home. Without the data in his hand, he was also unable to explain its meaning.
Jack nevertheless earned a decent grade on his science project, and I now face the task of trying not merely to make him understand that he could have done better if he’d remembered to bring in the data–he’ll get that–but that it matters. Jack is a happy member of the “good enough is good enough” club, and I’ve yet to find a way to convince him otherwise. I’ll explain that he should always want to do his best, that he should be responsible, etc., and he’ll point to his grade and repeat what he often says: that his teacher rarely gives out a top grade (she told me this herself; sigh). Implication: “Mom, I did fine, so stop bugging me.”
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I worry too much. They are, after all, just kids. And, to be honest, they’re my kids–and I’ve been known to back the car out of the garage and forget where I intended to go. Maybe I should replace my “Don’t Forget Board” with giant photographs of what they need to bring to school tacked to the mudroom door every day. On the other hand, maybe I’m at fault and an enabler, and I shouldn’t deliver their boots to school when they call; maybe the kids would learn their lesson if they had to struggle through Phys Ed in their snow boots a few times.
Okay, there’s the bus turning the corner now. Gotta go. Conversation awaits. If you have thoughts on kids and responsibility, let me know.