Adelaide moved into the three-year-old room at the beginning of the month and that class is a pre-school class with actual homework. We’re only on week two, but it’s just a couple of worksheets that they’re given on Monday and they have until Friday to return them. Tim is home with Adelaide on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so that gives us plenty of time to finish the worksheets each week. In fact, last week it gave them something fun to do on one of her days away from school. However, this week, Tim forgot about the worksheets.
So tonight Tim had to work, and I was left to my own devices to fit in dinner and homework and the bedtime routine. We did the worksheets after dinner with the promise that we would watch the end of Frozen when she finished. It was just two worksheets. One tracing and writing the letter “B” and one tracing and writing the number “2,” and I totally lost my patience with her. I wasn’t the calm, understanding mother I always dreamed I would be. I was snippy. I was pushy.
Instead of drawing a line with two half circles, she started drawing these random circles on the page. “What’s that?” I asked frustrated.
“I’m making Mommy.”
“No, we’re not drawing Mommy, we’re writing Bs.”
She wasn’t listening and she wasn’t following directions, and now I feel I’ve ruined her experience with homework for the rest of her life.
I could see myself from this outside perspective, and I could see the damage I was doing. I mean, I wasn’t yelling or even saying anything unkind. I was just rushing her and getting easily frustrated. I wanted her to do it herself, but I guess I wanted her to do well to please her teacher and felt that her work would somehow be a reflection on me as a parent. I think if we hadn’t waited until the last minute, and I wasn’t feeling rushed for bedtime, I could have treated it more like a “for fun” project.
Instead, she was in tears and I finally started to snap out of it. She’s never been asked to draw a “2” before, she might not even know what a “curve” is. If her 2s don’t look like 2s, it’s okay. She’s only three! Finally, I gave up. I put the worksheets away in her folder. Maybe her dad can help her finish in the morning. Maybe not. We went upstairs and got dressed for bed. I changed the tone of my voice, talking about how worksheets are fun and how she did such a great job. I was nearly in tears myself by this point, mad at myself for the way I handled things.
Adelaide recovered quickly and we cuddled together on the couch to watch the last 10 minutes of Frozen. Although she’s seen it several times now, she squeezed my arm when it got to the scarey part and I knew I needed to write this story. To remind myself that she’s only three and we have many more frustrating days of homework ahead of us, and to forgive myself for not being perfect.