While I’ll admit I’m still figuring out this parenting thing, I have been around for awhile. I’ve seen a few things. Maybe learned a few, too. I typically crush Alexa’s question of the day at dinner. So when the girls have questions, I’m usually pretty quick with the answers unless it deals with show tunes, classic Saved by the Bell episodes, or carpentry. Then I tell them to ask their mother.
But what if this font of knowledge built on flash cards and rote learning was actually a bad habit?
Cecilia finally made it to long division this week and I couldn’t have been happier. It was like slipping into a warm bath with a good book. Or a pit of vipers. She hated it. She liked her old (i.e., new) way of doing it. I wanted to tell her she was nuts. One hundred years and countless nuns could not teach math any better. This new math was a touchy-feely fad. Trust me, I’ve been around.
I didn’t say that. Instead, I had her teach me the new way again. I didn’t find it better or worse. Just different. And we discovered that together. If you always have the answer, you aren’t learning.
So just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, it actually has me rethinking new math. Clearly, the glitter is going to my head.
This week Cecilia created a set of flashcards to study for a social studies assessment. Not sure if I’m allowed to call it a test. Regardless, it might have been one of my proudest moments as a Dad and proof that the slow drip parenting method might pay off. I lived and breathed flash cards in school. If Michelle hasn’t found them yet and taken them to the transfer station, I’m sure there is at least one box of dog-eared index cards in the basement. I’ve been trying to get Ce to use them for years.
It would be nice if our kids just accepted our advice and could avoid all the pain and mistakes that led us to learn it in the first place but you quickly realize as a parent that this is not how it works. And, frustrating as it may be to watch them run head first into the wall, it’s probably for the best. To really learn, you have to really screw up. Best to do it when you’re young. A good parent lets them touch the hot stove. Rhetorically, of course.
But honestly, it would be easier if she had just made flash cards in the first place.
One of Ally’s after school program teachers pulled me aside at pickup recently and told me how nice and helpful Ally is with her friends. I smiled and nodded. That’s always nice to hear as a parent. But she persisted. This wasn’t a one-off thing or making conversation while we waited. She really wanted me to know that Ally genuinely looked out for and cared about her friends. More warm glow…but gotta get home and make dinner.
That comment actually sunk in three days later as we labored over more reading. Ally is now starting to run up against some concepts that are hard or more difficult than kindergarten. She gets frustrated. Sometimes I get…frustrated.
Maybe I could learn something from Ally. The reading will come. Base 10 understanding will come. The capital of West Virginia…well, you can always Google that. What matters more in the long run is whether we care about and think about other people, or if the only thoughts in our heads are about ourselves. That’s hard to teach but thankfully Ally seems to have that covered.
It was a gray, unsettled, sometimes wet Saturday here. In other words, spring in New England! But it wasn’t freezing. And we weren’t over scheduled for what felt like the first time in a month. We had the usual dance class for Cecilia (recital costumes arrived today! – very exciting in the life of an 7 year old dancer), a trip to Costco (free lunch of samples for the kids!) and then some science fair prep (nothing like some Saturday homework).
As usual we started the day on the couch with a show and some maple sausages….