Thursday, September 13, 2007


And then I suggested she walk naked through the school...

Well, no, but you'd have thought I just did.
I'm just that sort of Mum. Suggesting incredulously ridiculous things.

[8am, yesterday, 15 mins before Ms 14 has to catch the bus to school]:
"Mum, mum, can you sign my sport choice form for next term. It's due in today."

[wondering why this wasn't brought out last night]:
"Basketball again? Why don't you try something different?... like.... there's Surf Awareness. (Run by a guy who is the President of the Surf Lifesaving club, and who also is our swim coach. So I think she'd learn something. ) Umm.. or what about trying yoga? "

"Are you out of your mind? Like, I hated Nippers when I did it..."

"... Yes, but this would be another way of picking up a bit more surf knowledge without having to do all the nipper stuff that you hated."

" OH MY GOD, Mum... They do THEORY and stuff... Why would I want to do that? I'm supposed to look forward to Wednesday afternoon sport, not dread it."

[Mum ponders whether school sport is meant for just stuffing around or....]

"And YOGA? I can't believe you think I should do YOGA! Oh my GOD!... [turning to sisters].. She thinks I should try YOGA?!!!"

[Grasping at straws] "Well, if you don't want to use this as an opportunity to try different stuff, don't expect me to pay for you to do iceskating in Term 4, which I know you will want to do.."

[She grabs sheet and slams out the door muttering that I only have to sign it if the sport involves a cost.
This morning she presents the sheet muttering that I still do have to sign it. As a concession she's put Yoga in at Preference #4, knowing full well that she'll get First preference, basketball, anyway. I give up and just sign the damn thing.]

I've thus had a day of pondering my parenting- in regard to this issue, and still have no answers. I mean, do you just go along with whatever the little darling wants, or do you have a duty, as a parent, to try and encourage them to think beyond their own little world? To look outside the square, to branch out and try new things? Where do you draw the line of toughness on it? If you just meekly make a suggestion, you may as well not make it at all, because the initial reaction will always be 'You're a moron Mum.'

We (Marc and I) are also pondering our instinctive reaction to her maths. After that last saga, where I finally threw my hands up and stopped nagging her to study (in a 'lead the horse to water, can't make it drink' fashion), she has come home with vastly improved test results lsat week, placing SECOND in the class with the major part of the test. (Gaining something like 85%). Pending some more results from kids who did the test later, and the results of the 'non-calculator' section of the test. Still the teacher gave her a Commendation Ticket for it. So she is all 'Go me!' Woot! I am a legend!' And, being terrible parents, we are pleased but gobsmacked, and actually quite disillusioned. Because we all but had to chain her to the table to revise. So she didn't do her best. She did what we dragged her kicking and screaming to do. And, if she can improve that much by that method, how much could she improve if she actually sat down, voluntarily, and revised and studied like a normal student is expected to do!

So she accused me of never being satisfied, and she has a point. Thing is, we only want her to do her best.. that's all. It's just that wasn't actually her best.

It is also a terrible indictment on the school she attends - that their second placed maths student in Year 9 is actually not that good. Because, no! she is not that good at maths! In many ways she can be quite dumb at maths! And dumb would be ok IF she tried her best, and that was the best she could give. But we still haven't seen her give it her best.

So as a parent, do you have a responsibility to keep chipping away, against the odds, to try to help your kids be all that they can be? To try things. To take school seriously. Even the sport opportunities. To venture outside their comfort zone. Or do you just throw up your hands, and let them do whatever they think they want, even if that is below par for what you think they are capable of.

Where do you draw the line? You might know in your heart (from your own experience) that academic achievement is not the be all and end all. That there is the risk of burning out by the end of Year 12.. and then what? (Exhibit A - me)

Talking with each other last night we admitted that both of us were 'hard markers'. He is definitely so - to the point where I avoid raising dealing with stuff that I need or want his advice on, because I don't want him to chuck a wobbly. But, while I am tending to total slackness in many areas, here I am being a hard taskmaster on my daughter.

I guess finding the middle road somewhere in there is the goal. I just wish I had a map and directions.

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tricky situation!

speaking as a child of a mother whom I could never satisfy, it's hard to be on the recieving end of that kind of pressure regardless of good intentions.

sorry, that probably doesn't make you feel any better.

best of luck with this dilly of a pickle.
I'm right there with you. To the point I turned my son into a vomiting worry wart. Luckily the vomit has passed, but it won't change me pushing him to try harder. I agree that while if his best is "one IQ point higher than a hammer" I'm good with that, but it must be his best!
I'm not keen on reaching vomiting point! Errr yuk!! And I'm really aware of not wanting to be like my mother, who, while not as bad as shishy's mother sounds (from your blog, shish), she does make me feel like whatever I'm doing as a parent isn't good enough because it's not the same as what she'd do... My parents' expectations of me going to university are what have landed me in nowhereland in terms of a career. So I'm pretty keen not to push the academic side of things.

With the maths, if she sat there and did her homework, and revision, without being dragged to it, I wouldn't care what result she got. I ... we... just want her to make an effort. God knows, given her results in just about every other subject, she has the brains.. Problem is, she slides through those subjects on her own grease. Doesn't need to do homework hardly - somehow gets it done in the blink of an eye somewhere along the line. And gets near to top marks all the time. All very well, but will that all help her once she gets out into the real world?!!

Shishy, we start these expectations when they are little... look at how you feel about the toilet training! You know she can "do better", and you get frustrated when she doesn't bother to try! Am I right?!

God this parenting thing is a minefield. I wonder if I will have figured it all out by the time #3 is this age...
I hate to say it but she'll just take it as nagging no matter how much you encourage her or not. Trust that she gets a boot up the arse at the end of year 10 or start of year 11 when the work actually requires you to study to learn anything. Exceptionally low results at the start of year 11 compared yo what she's used to might help to sort out the attitude towards study.

At the same time, you can't expect someone that young to suddenly become all academic _especially_ when it has all come so easily. I was exactly the sane and coasted through to the end of year 10. Year 11 was a shock and I bombed for the next two years, so I can only hope that the encouragement now might help when that bomb drops.

As an aside have just found out my folks don't expect my lil' bro to go to Uni or even TAFE - in fact they're encouraging him to go out and find work. I suppose that by the 4th kid they've realised we're not exactly the educational type of children. :)
She's 14, she's 14, she's 14, she's 14 - I remember 14. I was at boarding school but I was still able to lay quite a few of the world's ills on my parents table.

I am actually about to write a post similar to this to do with my 7 5/6 year old.

The worst bit for me is - the things I hated my mother doing when I was a child are the things I now realise my child needs from me - aaaaargh!
With my kids, once they reached their teens I believe the work ethic is set. Through their middle school years their right to do extracurricular stuff was based solidly in their achievements in the classroom. Once they reached high school, the attitude (now) is "Well, it's your future, if you want to go to college you'll make the grade. If not, it's your life." It seems to work, with ours. That's not to say I didn't worry, or cajole, or what ever, but we try to let the ball stay in their court. Our state has scholarships available for anyone with a >3.0 average (test scores have to be high too, for the school of choice to accept you). If the boys want to go to college, they have to make the grades and the scores. They know this, and seem to respond well to the lack of pressure from us about it. How would your daughter respond to being put in the educational driver's seat like that?

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