Pop quiz time!
1) You are a typical seventh grader. You receive a manageable assignment which is due in three weeks. You:
A) Complete it right away—no use wasting time!
B) Chart out your anticipated work trajectory, chipping away at it regularly for the next few weeks and finishing right on time.
C) Work on it here and there, spending most of the evening before it’s due finishing up.
D) Spent five minutes on it one day and then the night before get super-annoyed that your mother won’t just “edit it” for you (where “edit” means “do”) so that you can hand it in.
2) As a gifted student writing what is supposed to be a persuasive essay, you:
A) Make concise, declarative statements based upon facts and convictions.
B) Vary sentence structure throughout the piece, sometimes losing focus, but overall maintaining the theme.
C) Write a weak first draft but are able to overhaul it in editing to where you have a solid demonstration of your abilities.
D) Rely mostly on “I think,” “I believe,” “I would,” and a veritable cornucopia of passive voice atrocities to communicate that you might, maybe, kind of, have sort of a, like, you know, an opinion? On this thing?
3) After enduring your mother’s lecture about how you know better than to leave these things for the last minute and it’s really not her problem, you:
A) Apologize, beg for forgiveness and help, and swear you will never repeat such carelessness again because you see the error of your ways.
B) Apologize, beg for forgiveness and help, cry a lot.
C) Insist that you DID actually work on it but really you didn’t have much time and it’s not your fault that the work you did kind of sucks, beg for help.
D) Yell and scream at your mother that she doesn’t UNDERSTAND and it’s going to be HER FAULT when you get a bad grade. Because she’s MEAN.
4) After you work and weep at the keyboard for a while, your mother falls and hit her head rather hard, resulting in an offer to help you edit once you have your work mostly done. You:
A) Thank her profusely; work extra hard; present her with a mostly-polished essay that needs only minor tweaking.
B) Thank her; work as quickly as possible; present her with the finest writing you can produce in fifteen minutes.
C) Say “Fine;” cobble together a few almost-complete thoughts; present her with half an essay and then argue about whether or not it’s done.
D) Mutter darkly about how you’re going to get a terrible grade and it’s all her fault; produce a single paragraph that may or may not have been written in Pig Latin; email it to her with a note that, “It doesn’t matter, I’ll just fail.”
5) During the editing process, you:
A) Accept feedback graciously and diligently revise your work so as to get the best possible grade.
B) Accept feedback with a mostly open mind and make changes with a minimum of complaint.
C) Argue about grammar. (With your mother. Who is a professional writer.) Crack jokes about your spelling errors. Suggest you actually MEANT to write entirely in sentence fragments and she is ruining your “style.”
D) Argue about everything. Cry. Make up facts and then argue about whether or not they’re ridiculous and obviously false. Halfway through, when asked “What’s the point you’re trying to make with this piece?” just shrug and say, “I have no idea.”
6) Hours later, after your mother has saved your butt yet again (and probably should’ve just left you to your own “Like, you know” devices), you’re nearly finished with your assignment! It just needs a strong conclusion. You’re almost there, so you:
A) Finish up, thank your mother profusely, and head to bed feeling proud of the work you’ve done.
B) Struggle a little, but complete the assignment, thank your mother, and go to bed relieved.
C) Write a conclusion that demonstrates you have learned exactly nothing, necessitating further editing, then complain about it and stomp off to bed.
D) Crack jokes, write a conclusion that not only makes Strunk and White cry but also makes absolutely no sense, act bewildered when your mother throws her hands in the air in surrender and orders you to bed, stomp off swearing to get up early to finish. (Note: Don’t get up early! You can continue the fun in the morning if you oversleep!)
7) You are the mother of a 7th grade student. Repeat after me:
A) No good deed goes unpunished.
B) I already went to 7th grade. But you have fun!
C) I’d be happy to help you next time if you don’t wait until the last minute.
D) No habla InglÃ©s!
(One of these days, I’ll learn. Maybe.)
I hate to admit it, but I had Chickadee beat. My nemesis: home ec! I HATED all the assignments; couldnâ€™t sew, couldnâ€™t cook, did minimal work on projects and blamed the horrible teacher for trying to do her job. I would leave the projects till the last minute and get up early the day of (as if half an hour would make a difference in putting together a household budget for a year or putting together a collage of fashion!) to try to finish. I did end up passing with a B. Still canâ€™t cook or sew, but I majored in English in college (and my writing is only passable!). Seventh grade was horrible, but by sophomore year things were definitely on a better track. Hereâ€™s to you and Otto, and another three years!!!!
I live this weekly with a 15 yr old son who took all honors classes this (his freshman) year despite having no work ethic or interest in anything but drama! Beyond thrilled to know I am just as mean, selfish and illiterate (despite a degree in English) as you!!
There is no Gifted & Talented Program for mothers because we never, ever learn. We love instead – fiercely and with very little reward, but we love ’em just the same. (Mostly I’m okay with that, but I strongly suspect that’s because my own two darling daughters are still years away from tweendom.)
Yikes! This exactly demonstrates the main reason why I can be glad that I don’t have children – ARGHHH the Homework! I cringe to remember the hours of wailing and gnashing of teeth with my mom trying to get me to comply. What a nightmare. So sorry for you Mir! But good for you for not “enabling” her and sticking to your guns ;-P
I have to chuckle a bit. My parents would not help. My dad would offer math assistance in that he would help re-teach concepts, perhaps in a way that I would understand better. My Mom would redirect me to my father for any sought after help. I quickly learned that homework was my own to do. My parents worked. I was told that school was my job — I could put forth the effort to do a good job and reap the rewards of good grades, or I could do poorly and face the reduction in privileges. My choice.
E) Grab bottle of favorite booze, drink until you can’t hear 7th grade whining and pass out until the morning when 7th grader has probably completed it all on her own.
Me thinks you need an intervention, Mir dear :) Want my phone #? Next time you have the urge to “help,” I’d be happy to talk you out of it, and maybe even lend you some earplugs.
~ fellow mom to a 7th grader.
My almost-8-year-old does the second-grade version of this, bitching and moaning (literally, with obnoxious SOUNDS) about homework, trying everything to get out of doing it. Thanks for the warning about what I have to look forward to! I oughtta bookmark this page for the inspiration I’ll need in 5 years….
I am a mean mom. If homework is an issue, I will strip my children of their privileges until they have nothing left to play with, not even their imaginations if they do not suck it up and just do the frigging work already! That is HUGE, considering that my oldest is an Aspie and changing his schedule in ANY WAY results in huge meltdowns. At that point? I tell him to please remove his wailing self to his room. kthxbai.
I have to admit, I was in the gifted program too and pretty much did everything the night before, by the seat of my pants. Although there was a math project in 5th grade I just never did. It was huge and lasted a few months and I just. . .didn’t do it.
I really wonder if it’s a gifted student thing. From what I remember, it’s very polarized. Some do the work right away, and are the kind that graduate at the top of the class. Others were like me. (And Chickadee.) OH and my sister! She’s way smarter than me and almost didn’t graduate high school because she just stopped caring at all.
But you know, genius often is tied to being crazy. :-P
OMG!!! I have a measly 3rd grader, but given his current response to his measly 3rd grade homework, this leads me to believe that (with his ADD/executive functioning challenges) this is EXACTLY the kind of 7th grader he is going to be.
It’s the argumentativeness as you’re trying to help them that really kills me. Like my insistence that his teacher REALLY wants answers in complete sentences comes because I hate him and want to cause him misery. NOT because the instruction page says something like… “Give your answer in complete sentences.”
Shoot me now.
It’s a little sad that this post me feel better. I always feel like I have the only kid on earth who waits to the very last second to work on a project and makes the rest of the family miserable when he realizes that he doesn’t have time to do a decent job. The good news is that my 7th grader doesn’t want any help, the bad news is that he just doesn’t finish his work . . .
Now if I can get over the part where I believe that if I was a better mother, my son would do his homework.
Oh dear, laughing and loving both the post and the comments.
My parents were the same as #5 Jen. My oldest did her own stuff for the most part, as I experienced some of the drama from the post and took #6 Kristi’s advice. She is in her senior year of college now and my line is: “I pay the tuition, you do the work.”
My 5 year old is already a challange. I cannot predict yet what I will do with her.
This is my fave though: “I will strip my children of their privileges until they have nothing left to play with, not even their imaginations” from #9 Tenessa. LOVE it.
HAA!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kristi #6 !! Great answer.
You are a wonderful mom. If she has already mastered all of life’s lessons at the age of 13 (responding A to each answer of your quiz) what fun would life be? You are teaching her more by being compassionate in the end than letting her sink on her own. The drama…. that’s just one of the perks of being a girl! She’s going to turn out just fine. Just not for a few more years!
OMG – I hate to say it, but I think that was ME in 7th grade!!! My poor parents….
Now, I HOMESCHOOL my two boys and deal with this DAILY! What was I thinking?!?!?!
This reminds me of a blog you did a few years ago when she was 10…How dare you help me!! How dare you not help me!! I know what I’m doing!! Why didn’t you tell me what to do??
Made me laugh then, and this makes me laugh now. I have the same issues at my house with my 7th grader! I feel your pain. Thanks for the laughs.
I will endure the slings and arrows from this post, but I have to weigh in as a teacher:
1. I am not a mother, and I never will be, so you can stop reading if you feel this exempts me from this post.
2. Yes, I want my students to do their work, but there are bigger things at stake.
3. I want my students to become productive members of society. As adults, we know the value of simply sucking it up and getting work done on time.
4. Let your child experience the real world consequences of their actions NOW. Let them fail. It will help them in the long run.
5. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Hey Sassy (may I call you Sassy?), I totally agree. I wrote this because 85% of the time I say, “Oh well, figure it out.” These times when I get sucked in I am mentally kicking myself for not backing away. Maybe it’s somehow striking a balance between responsibility (hers) and compassion (mine), or maybe I’m just making a mistake. I hope it’s the former but I totally get that it might be the latter.
Lol, Tenessa! I would like to know your secret for suspending imagination priveleges. Sensory deprivation chamber?
Mir, I think your best option is 7D — Â¡No habla ingles! If you put in the upside down punctuation, it makes it even more official — even your punctuation is foreign.
Lest I remind you that as a high school student, after the requisite whining, you used to routinely write papers the night brfore they were due by just putting paper in the typewriter and typing. No notes. No outline. No discussion. You developed flying by the seat of your pants to an art form. And that was a typewriter, not a computer you used.
Actually, I realized I was in big trouble even before that.
I am NOT looking forward to this with my kids. I so see this happening with my oldest.
I was waiting to see what your dad had to say. :)
When I am complaining about my own daughter (who’s only 2; I’m already in trouble), my parents just smile and nod knowingly.
Hope your recordable card with “BE A PROBLEM SOLVER!” has some battery life still. Sounds like you’ll need it for next time.
Sounds like it’s time to let the girl face some consequences… so what if she fails. Better now, in 7th grade than later in “real life”… right!?!??
I too very much enjoy your dad’s updates. I get them, too, ’cause my parents are there to watch all my interactions with my kids. The general belief is that the grandchildren are much more responsible than I was. It’s probably true, and not just a result of grandparent blindness.
My daughter rarely accepts my help, so we don’t have these interactions, but, when she sometimes asks (which usually means she wants me to be her minion and do exactly what she tells me to do — get scissors, run errands, pour milk), I refuse.
Ah don’t ya hates it when your dad throws you under the bus? hahah.
Although the issue doesn’t seem to be the procrastinating as much as the “omg-i lit my hair on fire but its all your fault”-ing. amirite?
My daughter is 25 and still plays these jerky games with me.Itâ€™s always my fault-whatever it is. Were it not for my older sister I would have …. I donâ€™t know but itâ€™s great to have reinforcements from the sibs during our lives.
Luckily, my 11yo is most like question 1) answer B. Don’t yet know what my 9yo. is. Hopefully not like Chickadee because he’ll get a lot of 7) B) or D).
Hahaha my 11yr old son asks me to edit/do his history projects all the time. Sometimes I do/edit out of compassion in the full knowledge I am doing the wrong thing and sometimes I just let him suffer the consequences. They pull on our heart strings don’t they, the little buggers.
Incoming from a 7th grade teacher. I’m also a mother to a sophomore and a fifth grader. And I am mean. Ask me how I did not help my sophomore make her yam sculpture interpretation of the novel Things Fall Apart last night. No, I am not making that up. Because I am mean and not that imaginative.
I’m with Sassy, and I totally get that you meant well and suffered from temporary insanity. Children cause all sorts of insanity, as does life in general. But it’s better for Chickadee to “fail” in this arena then to pull this same mess in high school when it “counts.”
I teach in a private school and happen to be in the same social circles as some parents. The number of parents who become overly involved in projects, papers, etc is so frustrating.
Give yourself permission to let her experience failure. Gifted children ESPECIALLY need to experience failure, and how to recover. I’m betting that she might have perfectionistic tendencies that lead to procrastination–it’s pretty common in smart nerdlets who fear failure.
I also think that once she displays attitude, ingratitude, and a loud voice, she knows that all bets are off and you are done. Her project, her problem. You already finished 7th grade.
If you are giving yourself permission to “help,” then I would suggest that you and Chickadee mark the small deadlines on a calendar and she becomes “Amish” until those goals are met (no TV, music, trips to places in the car). You’d be amazed at how effective being Amish can be with a young teen.
Hope you’ve recovered. Declare yourself independent so that she will be, too.
PS I am a reformed Chickadee.
Even my second-grader knows the answer to question 7: “I already went to second grade. Good luck with that worksheet!”
I know, I’m terribly mean but I figure homework is supposed to measure what my kids can do. I can help out by nagging and making sure there are pencils somewhere in the house, but the rest of it is not. my. job. I have enough to do. Those Facebook games are not just going to play themselves, you know!
Your Chickie and my J may be the same person. Except different genders and living on different sides of the country. But otherwise, pretty much the same person. My younger starts middle school next year – he is already warming up. Honestly, I am more than a little afraid. If I make it through the both of them, I had better be handsomely rewarded, some way or another.
Surprisingly enough, yelling at them “Do you know how much you are making me dislike you right now!?” does not help things go more smoothly, as I found out the hard way last time I went through this situation with my boy. Refusing to get involved or to engage in their craziness of course is the right thing, but often much harder than it sounds.
Sassy Apple, I share your opinion entirely.
“Hours later, after your mother has saved your butt yet again (and probably shouldâ€™ve just left you to your own â€œLike, you knowâ€ devices)”
Please stop. You are SUCH A GREAT MOTHER in other aspects (I do think you are an example to all mothers). I remember you mentioning this problem before, and I think that even if you don’t help your daughter every single time, every time you do you give her the impression that she can continue to postpone her obligations to the last minute and “maybe” get away with it.
I remember being like Chickadee at a slightly younger age, but my mother always made me suffer the consequences. If I had to get a low grade, so be it. Being used to ranking on top of my class, I quickly learned that either I took responsibility, or the consequences would come. From when I was 11, I knew very well how to plan my time so nothing had to be done at the last minute. If I wanted my mother’s help to buy something or provide feedback, she was ready to assist me, as long as it wasn’t the day before the assignment was due. Perhaps you could create a similar rule for Chickadee: no help provided the day before due date?
You mean I’m not the only mom who routinely states “I already went to _______ grade.” or “I already studied________.”?
All the projects in our school are well managed by parents and perfect in presentation. Except the ones that are coming from my house. Woe unto my children for having to bear the burden that is “do your own work”. Many thanks to the teachers (one of my kids has one) who prefer the parents back off and let the kids flounder on their own now and learn the lesson sooner rather than later.
Funny, funny post, Mir.
I am weighing in as a teacher and as an (honors) student who waited until the last moment on everything and let her parents “catch” her time and time again.
The teacher in me says: Let her suffer the consequences of not completing her work on time. It will teach her a valuable lesson NOW when she needs it most. It will also humble her and make her realize that your help is a privilege, not a right.
The student whose parents caught her every time says: Let her suffer the consequences of not completing her work on time. My parents never let me fail. I have a very dear memory of a situation eerily similar to this one. My parents pushed me very hard academically and that I appreciate, but I didn’t fail until I got to college and mom and dad weren’t there to ___________ (email my teachers, remind me that school was number one, take away my privileges for not keeping up my grades, help me complete my projects at the last moment, etc…) My first semester I landed on academic suspension almost flunked out because I honestly didn’t believe it was possible for me to fail. I thought the work would get done “somehow.”
Let her take a bruising for her mistakes now, because as much as it hurts to watch it will honestly help in the long run.
p.s.–7th grade is brutal. I promise it gets better :)
rofl, Aimee (#20)! My eldest child has imaginary “conversations” with his hands, “Peter and Steve”. He gets grounded from them.
Two words. Walk away.
my youngest is planning on honors next year (7th grade … shudder) and my fear for her is that she will be judged against peers who have help, because, while I fail at not giving in the the last minute panic, and allow her to keep later hours then a normal night, I do not give homework help… I learned something after raising the first 3, (just don’t ask me about my oldest child’s poetry project.) Each child got a lot less help. Now I really see the benefit of having them judged on their own work. btw, i’m not smug, i’m old and tired :)
Mir, I almost hate to ask, but have you had Chickadee tested for ADD? She sounds amazingly like me as a child, as well as many other ADD kids I know now.
Totally Typical Middle Schooler. speaking from 15 years of middle school experience.
Nescio! Latin for “I don’t know.”
I think my grandma used 7E “I can’t help you, I skipped [insert current grade here]”. Always effective.
I just told a friend to come here and read your blog today. Her 13 year old son is driving her up a wall. He’s a bright kid, but a smart mouth isn’t doing him any favors. You may find comments from her in the future. This friend and I went to Kindergarten through 5th or 6th together. So I know what SHE was like when she was his age. I’m not entirely sure she liked being reminded of that.
Oh. My. Goodness!!! You will NEVER know how shocked I was to see your post tonight. I had just crawled into bed after going through the EXACT same thing with my own, gifted, 7th grader! We’ve been gone since Friday morning, she was skiing with her favorite aunts, and she KNEW this HUGE paper was due which would require HOURS of work … All weekend her dad and I encouraged her to get some work done … and then on the NINE HOUR DRIVE HOME we encouraged some more. Now all my good weekend relaxation is OUT THE WINDOW!!
I shoulder WAY TOO MUCH of the responsibility of my child’s great grades! I need to learn to let her a) fail, b) flounder c) oh what the hell! I am who I am and I will shoulder all this forever! She’s never let me down yet … but I still fret all the time!
I guess the truth is we are doing a great job in 7th grade … AGAIN!!
Thank you, Mir, for always putting a smile on my face!
Oh! Oh! Try this one – you are a senior in high school and MUST pass English to graduate. Do you a) complete the assignments as given, realizing that following directions well and capably will lead to a high grade, b) produce readable, but secretly ironic prose because you’re a teen and hey, you know better than she but you still want to pass, c) do the minimum required to scrape out a C or d) openly mock the teacher in each and every assignment and fail spectacularly even though you are totally capable of passing, a fact you prove by E) passing [with an A] two full semesters of honors English online in TWO WEEKS.
Bonus points if your mother is still alive, if barely, at the end of the two weeks. More if, two years later, you lead your class when you graduate with honors from language school (although leaving your long-suffering instructors bemoaning, ‘why you no work harder? You so smart!’). So, um, it will get better! Just maybe not for a very, very long time…
Can’t resist adding my 2 cents worth, as a teacher who is not a mother. I’m with the parents and other teachers who say “don’t help”, for the reasons they’ve already given, but also because homework is supposed to be for learning. Yes it generally gets graded, but the reason we assign it is for students to learn from it. If the parents do it–the student isn’t learning, or at least not learning what was intended. And if the parents do it, the teacher doesn’t know what the student can really do.
So take it as good news–you’re off the hook for homework. The ensuing panic attacks or tantrums from the child? Sorry, I can’t help there.
I have a terrible time letting my 3-year-old do stuff on his own, even though my logical brain knows perfectly well that he can and he ought to (even if his speed makes my timeframe irrelevant).
This does not bode well for the homework years.
I firmly believe that this demonstrates every homework encounter I am destined to have with my middle child in future years.
It seems that the problem is, it is so challenging not to help them and yet helping them sounds almost equally painful. This is definitely one of those situations that requires them failing on their own….but I’m afraid my son will be ok with that. Yikes.
I hope it makes you feel a little better that this was in fact hilarious to read.
Perhaps all homework should be done while consuming large amounts of wine? (For you, not him.)
Oh, 7th grade. I have particularly clear memories of sobbing at the kitchen table because I found lab reports really difficult. The entire style just went against what I did as a writer. After getting miserably low grades on my first assignments, my dad decided the best course was to force me to sit at the table and work there until the lab report was finished. This did nothing but further stress me out, force me to work in a strange place, and make me feel ashamed. (Eventually, I got the hang of lab reports somehow.)
Hopefully, Chickadee will appreciate your efforts one day!
When DD#4 would start her “you’re the meanest mom” bit, I knew I was doing my job! What she still throws at me occasionally (she turns 20 this week) is the one that goes “…. everyone else has a mom who ______” This daughter has always been a drama queen. On a scale from 1 to 10 she is about a 19!
I love the comenter that takes away all privileges, even their imagination! Ha! Thank goodness my kids are not old enough for this…yet. I can see it in our future though. Oy.
Isn’t this what boarding school was invented for?
Mir, you are pretty & you should have lots of (calorie free,) wine & chocolate today, bc you deserve it. My girls are 7 & 4 and my “sweet one” has learned the fine art of “OMG you are so mean bc you suggested I should start my homework!” My sassy one, (age 4,) is currently looking for stuff to call homework, bc that’s what the big one has to do & she wants to be big. It’s very Twilight Zone.
Right now, we get weekly packets of homework; at the beginning of the week I look at the packet & our calendar w/my 7yo. I help her break out how much she has to get down each night to complete it on time. Then we look at the week’s schedule & make changes as needed. Once we started doing this, once she knew what was expected of her each & every day, life got so much easier! I don’t have to nag at all. She comes home, grabs a snack & sits down to do her work. Often, she does more, bc I’m not asking her to do it. I know she’s 7 & 7th grade is a whole different ball game, (I was a bit like Chickee myself,) but perhaps a little nudge in “time management” is really what she needs from you. And, also a swift kick in the attitude adjustment. ;-)
Also, my kids have lost TV privileges during the school week permanently. Their desire to watch it turns them into nasty little (shitheads) monsters. I didn’t want to deal with it, so weekends only. They have iTouches that are the first thing to go after that. I love the idea of becoming Amish, and will be adding it to my arsenal.
Hang in there. (((Hugs))) It’s all I got right now. Middle school pretty much sucks all around.
So, I’m on number two son going through 7th grade. The one who, actually, has done his homework fairly independently until now. Don’t ask about the oldest one. Every lab has to have a guinea pig, and he was ours. Somehow, in 10th grade, he has managed to get more on top of homework and essays, although I will act as ‘editor’ and a listening ear in the “how do I get started” phase (Mostly because his english teacher the last two years before moving here refused to have them do rough drafts. No editing taught.) ANYWAY…
7th grade is just one of those years, I think. And despite having a teacher background, I give in sometimes too. But I’m getting firmer as I get older. No more last minute crap. And my children have learned that I am a BIG GRUMP after 9pm. BUT, guess what? We can only do our best, and sometimes the best thing is to help. And sometimes the best thing is not to help. And sometimes assignments seem clear to the teacher, but confuse the hell out of the students. And sometimes they just confuse the hell out of the parents. And sometimes, life just happens.
We are all on this journey trying to figure it out as we go along. So we must be gentle with ourselves and each other. But good for you for holding out and helping her live up to her potential.
And your post? Hysterical. I laughed all the way through it. And so did the 10th grader, who is TOTALLY honest about his style.
I loved this, especially the comments from the teachers. I am in the opposite boat with my daughter’s big project that she’s currently “working” on. The letter that came home with the project *encouraged* us to turn it into a family project, and said that we could teach our kids how to find good resources and limit the information. Except A) I already finished 6th grade. B), the last paper I wrote was my honors thesis, which was over 100 pages. Might want to have someone else help her with limiting information. C), this is *her* homework, not mine! I was so frustrated to have this shoved onto us, when I am not the right person to teach her academic subjects without it turning into a screaming match. I’ve already got her driving school lined up for when the time comes. I just winced when I looked at the clock (3:01) and thought about how the next two hours are going to go.
Oh my LORD! Homework. Older daughter had no problem doing it and, in fact, I rarely saw it, but she had a friend whose mother would do their joint projects for them, and I was the bad guy because I would help, but wouldn’t do the work for them.
Younger daughter has a learning disability and had to be dragged kicking and screaming through homework EVERY FRICKIN’ NIGHT from grade 2 until … oh… grade 12?
Which is to say you have my sympathy. Grade 7 is harder the 2nd time through.