Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A is for Ambitious

I think it's about time I shared one of my family's favorite stories with you. It's known around our house simply as "Cover Book A".

I was six years old and immersed in the first week of first grade. My mom had plans one evening, which meant my dad was in charge of the nighttime routine. After he'd secured my younger siblings into their beds, he and I turned our attention toward the homework I needed to complete before the next day of school.

My first grade reading primer sat on the dining room table with a note from my mom: "Cover 'Book A'".

My dad and I sat down together and cracked the book open. I easily read the simple words found on the introductory pages. But things didn't go smoothly for long. By the middle of the book, I was having a hard time. There were new and unfamiliar words, sounds I didn't know how to put together. The homework assignment grew more daunting with each turn of the page, and my dad's frustration began to mount. "Honey, we need to cover this whole book tonight. Just keep trying!" he implored as he tried to help me sound out letters and put them together to form words.

As the hours crept by, I grew more and more despondent. I was whining and crying and begging for him to just put me to bed. I had been defeated by my first reading assignment, and my dad's dreams for his firstborn's future educational endeavors began to slowly fade.

At some point in the process, he finally sent me to bed and placed that pitiful, half-read book back on the table.

Upon her return home, my mom was met at the door by a one frustrated daddy. "I'm sorry. We didn't even get halfway through Book A. She had a really hard time with this assignment. I think we're going to really need to work with her on her reading skills..."

My mom cut my dad off mid-sentence. "What are you talking about?" She walked over to the table, picked up Book A, and picked up the book cover, lying nearby. "I told you to COVER Book A."

I can't tell you how bored I was for, oh, about a full semester as my classmates slowly caught up to what I had been forced to accomplish in one night of reading with my dad. Despite the trauma, I really do love to read, as long as I can take it at my own pace.


Now, flash forward about 25 years:

A few days ago, we received a note and picture in the mail from Drew's Kindermusik teacher. Our new semester of music class was about to begin, and we were instructed to bring the enclosed photograph with us to class. In the instructions, the teacher asked the parents to review our photograph with the child before we arrived at class (every kid's picture was unique, so she wanted the children to be familiar enough to talk about their own photo). Some helpful suggestions were made. "Point out different elements of the picture to your child. Ask them what they see", etc.

So, last night before bed, I sat with Drew and his Kindermusik photograph. We talked about the picture. Not knowing exactly how much his teacher would want him to discuss, I asked him many, many questions about the picture. (What do you think the weather is like? Does the man look happy or sad? Look at the buildings in the background?) I was impressed with the amount of information we were able to conclude from our discussion and felt prepared for class.

Today was our big first day, and after a few minutes of introductions, the Kindermusik teacher asked my son if he would like to tell the class a little about his picture.

"Well..." he started, placing his hands on his hips. "I think they are in a big city and it must be cold there because the man is wearing a jacket and it probably rained recently because the ground is wet and shiny and the man's hat has something on it to cover it from the rain and...I think he looks comfortable and..."

Gently, the teacher broke in during a slight pause and said, "Wow! Thanks! Um.. I'm wondering, though. Do you think this is a fireman or a policeman?"

"Oh, it's a policeman on a horse."

"Thank you, Drew! OK, Paige, tell me about your picture!"

That's when I realized that I had totally pulled a "Cover Book A" with my own son.

At least it'll be a good story...

How about you? Have you ever become overly-ambitious about something with your children?

1 comment:

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Um, potty training?

Really. I pushed it so hard with my first son, and I was getting so frustrated. He was really trying to please me.

He went upstairs and I heard a scream and sobs. When I ran up there, he had had an accident, and cried out, "I hate my peepee! It doesn't work!" I decided, ok, forget it. If he doesn't learn until he is 6, fine. I am not going to have my child traumatized over this.

Five months later, he learned in one day. No tears.

Just have to say that the picture of your little boy in your header - OH. MY. WORD. He is ADORABLE.