Raising expectations

My boy, enjoying his homework time.

My boy, enjoying his homework time.

T has homework due every Wednesday and Friday. On Monday the homework folder is sent home and those worksheets are due back by Friday. On Wednesday the kids must bring in pictures they drew or cut out from magazines that start with the letter of the week. T prefers drawing, so he’s always drawn fun pictures of things that start with whatever letter they’re working on. Sometimes we get silly when he’s doing his homework Tuesday nights, trying to come up with what he should draw.

This particular Tuesday things went a little wrong.

The letter of the week was ‘L’. He sat down, spent about two minutes on the picture, and declared he was done. I took a look at it, and was disappointed.

I’m not saying he’s a genius artist or anything, but my kid can be talented with the crayon. You know, like most of these imaginative kiddos are. When he takes his time and cares about what he’s doing, he can draw really well. Check out some of his recent works on his dry erase board:

House, tornado, dorothy & toto. He even tried spelling all on his own.

House, tornado, Dorothy & Toto. He even tried spelling all on his own.

pic of t and me

Tree, me, & T. Obviously. Check out my glasses!

What he drew for the letter ‘L’ can hardly be considered drawing. A thick line with a circle at the end to be a ‘lizard’. The words ‘like’, ‘lick’, and ‘lie’ written out. It was evidence of a child who just didn’t give a crap.

Maybe I was in the wrong, but I needed to be honest. I told him about how he’s always been really creative and I love his drawings, but this one just didn’t look like he cared. He didn’t take any time to think about what he was drawing.

And because he’s six-years-old, his eyes filled with tears and he screamed, “You don’t like anything I do! I’m just stupid!” Then he crumbled up the paper and threw it away.

It’s tough to get rational thought into a child’s head, but I still try. Because, eventually, he gets it.

I kept my calm. I didn’t give in. I reminded him about all the other great drawings he’s done, even taking him into the hallway to see the ones displayed. I told him how I felt about what he had drawn. That he could have done better. I felt like a mean old wench, but something in me said that he needed it as a form of encouragement. I wasn’t cruel in my choice of words; I was honest.

After a few crocodile tears, he finally pulled out a new piece of paper and got to work.

This time, the lizard actually had a body and a couple of legs. He drew a person on a rectangle to depict ‘laying’. He drew a ‘lightning’ bolt and a pair of ‘lips’. He handed me the piece of paper with a smile on his face. He looked so proud of what he’d done.

And that was all I was looking for.

I hugged him and asked him what he thought of his homework. He told me that I was right. “It does look better when I take my time.” When the next Tuesday came around, he made sure I knew that he had taken his time. It showed. And I told him so.

I don’t believe that my child should meet standards or expectations set forth by the school districts or No Child Left Behind or whatever. I don’t believe that I should coddle my child and make him believe every little thing he does is perfect. I believe that my child will grow and thrive better if he is challenged. When he is pushed just a little bit more each time, he exceeds expectations and blows the wimpy standards out of the water.

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