First Day of Homework

Today it hit me. I have a school-age child. No more preschooler is she.

We're trying a new schedule these days. Tom's taking Phoebe to the YMCA morning program, and I'm trying to leave work early to pick her up from her after-school program. I picked her up today and I'm watching her while we're walking to the car. Here is this almost 4-foot tall girl walking next to me with a backpack and lunch bag. Wait a minute this girl is mine! She looks so sure of herself, so old. All last week I didn't get to witness this by myself, so I don't think I had time to register it. Too many things were going on in my mind last week.

She had her first homework assignment tonight, and I'm very pleased with how I handled it. She said she did her homework during the afterschool program time. I cleaned out her bag as soon as we got in the house and we found her homework. I wasn't really pleased with what she did, but I held my tongue.

The assignment was to draw a picture of your family, including pets, on the sheet given with the instructions and have your parents write everyone's name in the picture when complete so they can use it in the future for their writing assignments. Phoebe had drew all of us with just one crayon color and it was kind of messy. She told me first that she didn't like it. I asked why and she said she drew Daddy smaller than me. I told her she could redo it while I was making dinner. Since she needed to use the instruction sheet, I taped white paper over where she drew already and put it in the copier/printer and gave her the fresh assignment sheet I made. The next one she did still wasn't that great ... we all had yellow hair. BTW, as I know most parents can, I know what my daughter is capable of and that's why I say it was not that great.

You have to understand. Phoebe is a very good artist and her attention to detail in her drawings is amazing. I knew she was rushing through the assignment. Every year, she draws a family portrait for me and I hang it up at work. Every year's drawing is more amazing than the next. But even when she was little, she always used appropriate colors for our hair: Phoebe - brown, Tom - black and me - yellow.

I made a comment to Phoebe that we all had yellow hair and she noticed that her Daddy's hair was too long too. I asked her if she wanted to try again. She did, so I made another clean assignment sheet in the copier. Before I gave her this one. I told her not to be in such a hurry to finish, to have fun, and draw us the way she sees us. The last one was fantastic.

I'm really glad with how we both handled this first assignment. I didn't criticize but coached. I was trying to avoid the p word - perfect. She has a tendancy to want everything to be perfec and I'm trying to counteract that. The last picture was the work I knew she was capable of. This time, she drew specific clothes on us, in different colors and lots of detail, we all had the right color hair, and to make her happy also, we were all the right height in the picture.

Wow! My baby is definitely no longer my baby, and we did homework!


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