My son came home from school today, lamenting that a four page essay on his favorite room in the house was due tomorrow. I probably should have had a few words for him about putting assignments off to the last minute, or learning better organization skills, but I honestly didn’t hear much after “essay”.
Four page essay. Giggety.
We wrote together for five hours, outlining a story, crafting a tale, spinning a web of parallel structures and asymmetrical adjectives. In the end, we had the best four page essay that’s probably ever crossed that grade six teacher’s desk, and I am totally okay with the fact that it would have only been half as good had I not helped him.
What is the fun of having kids if you can’t teach them the things you’re good at? There’s a reason so many common American last names have to do with the family’s ancestral trade…we pass down what we know to our children. Blacksmith begets blacksmith, miller begets miller, marketer begets marketer.
I am a writer by trade. It’s what I do for a living, as well as what I do for fun. I breathe words. I scribble notes on napkins when I’m not typing thoughts into word processors. My kids see that – all day, every day. We talk in elaborate stories, we imagine and dream and elaborate and embellish. Hand me the chance to sit down with my most writerly child and pass down some of what I love to him? You bet your butt I’m going to go a little overboard with it.
Even if it wasn’t “my” subject…even if it was, say, history or geography, which I freely admit to knowing absolutely zilcho about, I would still go out of my way to show my son that I think his school assignments are super-exciting. I’ve made enough foam core board games and shoebox dioramas to earn me an honorary degree at every elementary school this side of the Mississippi, but I really don’t consider that doing my kids’ homework…I call it quality time spent with my kids.
There’s a fine line between doing something with your child and doing something for your child. Sure, you can read a whole lot of me in his essay on the family gameroom, but you can read a whole lot of him in it, as well. And that, in scientific terms, is what they call us.