“Can I please be excused? I have a lot of homework,” Eddie, my 15-year old, said at the dinner table.
“Sure. Do you need any help with anything?” I replied.
“Maybe some coloring…cutting.”
“Okay,” I said, “I like coloring.”
I don’t do my children’s homework. I’ve never filled in a blank, done a math problem, or written an essay for one of them. Long ago I would help with Science projects in elementary school, but I still drew a line and would only help so much.
Feeling overwhelmed is awful though, so I try to prevent that sensation for my boys. If they have a lot of homework or a big project I might simply sit at the same table, doing my own thing, just so they don’t feel like they are in it alone. I will also freely do clerical tasks. I’ll type for them, or color, or staple…the types of things that take time but don’t have to do with the knowledge or aptitude of a subject.
Eddie got up from the table and I heard him tell his brothers he’d probably get around to playing the computer game they all play together in about an hour or so. He got right to doing his homework while I cleaned up the kitchen and did some other evening chores. As soon as I exhaled and sat down in my comfy chair, Eddie came over to me with two pieces of cardstock paper. He showed me on each page what had to be colored, and frankly, it was quite a bit.
“Do I have to use coloring pencils, or can I use crayons,” I asked, thinking it would be faster with crayons.
“It has to be colored pencils.”
Okay, I thought. Eddie was up and moving, and I suddenly thought, ‘dang, did I offer to do his work for him and he’s going to go off and play computer games with his brothers’? So I sat in my comfy seat a minute, thinking of what I might have inadvertantly signed myself up for and taking a breather. Then I looked over my shoulder and saw that Eddie had repositioned himself at the table and was doing work. He had not gone off to play games.
I got up and sat across from him with the colored pencils in the middle of the table. He had headphones in, and was coloring away, so I got busy. When he finished all of his coloring he began to cut the items out. When my coloring was complete, I followed his lead, asking a question for clarification. He answered with a clear instruction.
By the time I finished cutting my papers, Eddie was well into gluing the others where they needed to be. I set my stack in the queue to be glued and started cleaning up. By the time all the paper scraps were thrown away and the colored pencils were back in their box, Eddie’s assignment was complete. He packed up his backpack, thanked me, and went off to play with his brothers.
I was blown away. Completely.
Eddie never planned on my doing his work. He recognized that he could use some help and he divided the work fairly: he took two papers to color and gave me two.
He didn’t want me to do his work for him, but he would accept my doing his work with him. He also clearly wasn’t going to ask anything of me that he was unwilling to do for himself. At no point was he going to leave me to do his work for him, as I had briefly feared. When I needed clarity on a task, Eddie gave good and clear instructions so he was able to get the outcome he desired from the person assisting in the task.
I felt like the entire event told me great things about Eddie’s character.
- He hasn’t got an ego so big that he is afraid to need or ask for help.
- He isn’t going to pawn his work off on someone else.
- He works diligently to complete a task.
- He is able to guide others without being critical or condescending.
- He’s goal oriented.
- He’s fair.
- He’s grateful.
And here is the part of the blog post where I so cleverly tie this in to CookieText, but this time I’m not going to. This time I am just going to be incredibly thankful for the fine young man Eddie has become. At a later date I will be very glad that I wrote this experience down, because I would hate to forget it. I will look back and be grateful that I had a business that alloted me enough time to enjoy my most favorite job of all: mothering.