All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Friday, August 20, 2010

No WE don't have homework, YOU do

Months back I talked about how being a parent causes psychosis. We begin to speak about ourselves in third person, in out-of-Mommy-body references. While watching the news this morning, I saw a story about getting kids ready for college. Now mine are just middle school-aged, but there was one item that caught my ear. It scared me, because I thought, yet again, I was going down the personality disorder path. The reporter called me out on that fact that I have, at some point, become more than one person in my head. Or I've taken to the royal "we." So am I crazy? Pretentious? No, worse... Oh my God I think I am becoming a helicopter parent.

Points #1 and 2 of this rocket-science list of tips covered buying used textbooks to save money and not encouraging your college student to use credit cards to their max. It's true my first reaction was, "Really? Someone got paid to write this list? And they had to find an 'expert' to interview for these pearls of wisdom." But then I heard, "Stop saying we." And I froze. "You make them less independent. You make their work appear to be yours too." I DO do that. Ugh. "Then you get upset they do nothing for themselves." Hmmm. Maybe this guy was on to something.

This week, I was trying to desperately to put a dent in the Summer reading assignments. Wait, I  take that back. I was trying to make sure a dent was put in the Summer reading work- THEIR Summer reading. So why was I was chasing around Son2 two days ago for his identified theme in "Hank the Cowdog?" And why did Son1's "Tuck Everlasting" journal entries seem an everlasting nightmare? They read, they actually enjoyed the books, and each are reading a second without accompanying essay (praise God). So my work as parent was done, right? I made sure they had what they needed by way of books and URL of their assignment summaries. Beyond that, why did I stress more than they did? Why was this a "we" situation? Why do we do this to ourselves? And BTW at this moment I'm speaking about you and I as the "we," in the hope a reader or two does this also so I'm not alone in liberally-used royal we-land.

Summer reading is fine. Summer reading assignments, however, are just really sick jokes by teachers. They know working mothers are daydreaming of back to school time. They're reminding us that we should be careful what we wish for, given that school projects will come with blissfully-routine school schedules. But these vacation assignments become albatrosses over our heads. I mean, how the Hell am I supposed to have time to do anything the rest of the summer like clean the garage, read, or, well, blog about how much I hate sumer reading assignments if YOU, not we, YOU two don't finish these (bleep)ing things. Do you two little morons think I can just sit down and crank this blog out like a madwoman on a rant? Ok, bad rhetorical question.

School is just around the corner. For some of you, it may have started. Then all "We Hell" breaks loose. I start slipping in to plural like crazy. "We need to get poster board... We need to study for the Math test... We need to check the online homework page." WHAT? No WE don't. You do! I've got enough going on to lose my mind without some societal pressure to co-construct every shoe box diorama.

Because that's it, isn't it? We feel like we'll be looked upon as some inadequate non-caring parent if the stuff is not done, and done well. If we stopped "we"ing every responsibility our kids have, they may not care. (No way!) They may not do it. (Ruh 'ro Raggy) They may fail. (Gulp) But are we trying to prevent them failing, or trying to be sure they know we think it's important?... and trying to make sure everyone else, from teacher to soccer coach, knows we really do care?

So I kept on going back in my head today to the college-student check list guy, and his "Stop saying we" comment. Tonight, when Son1 sat at the laptop he has literally tried to break instead of finishing his essay while down the Shore, the hubs and I nudged, coerced, reminded. (OK, let's be serious, we screamed & carried on until he sat there.) But then, once he was there, I decided it was now my time. I wanted to write. I wanted to read some blogs, then fire up the Kindle. I had a Skinny Girl Margarita with my name on it.

So sorry Son1, I'm picking tonight to push you out of the essay-nest. "We" aren't doing anything as a "we" other than sharing oxygen. "You" will be left to do your work. Make it good, because it's your grade. It's a reflection on you, not on me (as I still need to remind myself).  Me? I've got a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo waiting for me for two weeks now. She and I have a long-overdue date, so "we" will be spending some bonding time tonight.


  1. Ugh, those stupid summer projects! My son was just wrapping them up today, the last weekday before he starts his senior year. If they don't finish them by day #1, they are dropped from the class.

    What happened to summer? And that whole "we" thing I think was started by parents trying to make their kids feel like they were a team together or some crazed idea. I am SO over being on a team....glad you are joining me!

  2. Why do we use "we" because we don't want to damage their fragile psyches by using the word "you". I'm with you, lets get back to putting the blame on you not we.

  3. The one thing that was hard for me when I hit college was the "we" (ie my mom) was no long there to do "our" projects. I could do the homework and study for tests on my own, but it was the projects that "we" did! Love my mom and miss the "we"ness :)

  4. I totally understand where you're coming from SO much and little man is only about to enter kindegarten.
    Granted, at his young age, he needs supervision to do his homework, but I have that same feelings too. Like I so desperately want him to do well. Your post is a good lesson for me as his schooling formally starts that I need to let him take some responsibility for his work.
    Oh and summer reading/essays? Total BS!! What idiot decided to do that to us mothers?? Like anyone really wants to have to worry about that crap when you're trying to have good time??

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  6. Hmmm, interesting post. I am definitely a "we" parent. My son is only in elementary school so maybe there is still time for him. LOL I am going to work on this though because it makes complete sense to me.

  7. Our children are still young so I haven't felt the effects of summer projects yet, but I agree it is hard to know when they should be responsible, and when you should. It's a balance I constantly struggling with.

  8. So true. I try so hard not to "we" parent, but we all do it. Too often.

    Love your writing style!