It turns out my kid is smart. GracieGirl is kind of rocking this
whole kindergarten thing. She can read or sound out most simple words
and is loving math. So when word of the Science Fair came around
school, she wanted to do it. And how could I do anything BUT encourage
my budding little genius? Apparently, Mama is the one who has a lot to
learn about this whole kindergarten business. We got the Science Fair
Project Guidelines three weeks before it was due. It was three pages long single spaced. (Don't believe me? I even took pictures). It even included a two-sided "Research Paper Form" for the student (who is SIX) to fill out. Since it took about an hour for my super-genius kindergartner to fill out the title with a pencil, I decided to have her type the research paper. I wasn't sure how much she would learn from a project requiring 3 full pages of instructions, so I decided some computer skills would be a good lesson.
One of the girls' Christmas presents was a Butterfly kit,
and I thought, "Cool, I can order the caterpillars for the project."
The website even had ideas on how to use your caterpillars for a
Science project. We decided to find out how sunlight affects a caterpillar’s growth. We
were shipped two jars of caterpillars and put one in a windowsill and
one in a shady spot in Gracie's room. Then every day for a week I
would draw a line as long as one of the caterpillars & Gracie would
measure it. (Learning about measurement = another thing learned!)
As a former teacher I really wanted GracieGirl to do her own work. I'm
pretty sure I could do a pretty bitchen elementry school Science Fair
Project, but I want her to l.e.a.r.n. So tonight we painstackenly put
together my girl's project. After way too much time spent on
schoolwork, I was asking her questions about the project. I could ask
her any question about the chart that she had filled in or which
caterpilars grew bigger & she knew the answer. I was pretty proud
of my girl. Then I asked her to summarize (I didn't want there to be
any question as to who did this elaborate project. This was HER work),
"Do caterpillars grow better in the shade or dark?"
"In the dark," she answered, which was the exact opposite of the heavily padded information we'd collected.
You could see gaskets blowing outta my ears. It was getting late (almost 6:30pm). I was tired. She was done. And yet I pressed on, "Are you sure? Which ones grew bigger?"
That's when she pulled the whole, "Well, I thought this was my project, not yours."
Oh no she di-n't.
I may have stomped off with the project. I may have said something about fine, if it's mine, then I'm keeping it. I may have apologized profusely later. I may have gone in her room just now to pet & kiss her pretty sleeping head.
But, damn, how did she know my biggest fear? And what am I going to
do when she's a teenager and discovers my biggest fears of her
repeating all of the same mistakes I made? Hopefully I'll handle it
with a little more grace than I did tonight. And if those times turn out half as good as her science project did, then it's all gonna be okay.