Feb 20, 2007

Taking your lessons where you can

Last night I was helping my seven year old daughter with her homework, and she had to ask six adults if they would want to be the President of the United States, and why or why not. She's only seven, but she's a voracious learner and very smart for her age (yeah, I'm bragging). And I let her call up random relatives and friends for their answers. She called up five people and then she told me she was done. I said, well honey no- you need one more to have six and you haven't asked me- so I can be your sixth person.

She just looked at me with her "Daddy, please" eye roll and said she didn't have to ask me. I was the first person that she put down. I looked at her homework, and yep - I was at the top of the list. She already knew I WANTED to be President.

It was really just a charting exercise but she did have a discussion question at the bottom. "What have you learned by asking this question?" I was watching over her shoulder as she filled in the yes or no squares, and I was eagerly waiting for my chance to talk over the discussion question with her. But she never skipped a beat.

"I'm done! Can I go play now?"

"Well, let me see your answer"... I read:

"I learned that some people who really care about changing the way things are want to be president and some people that don't want the responsibility don't care."

Okay.... Better answer than I expected. We talked it over for a bit and I complimented Amy on her reasoning. "You missed the o in responsibility though." Another eye roll as she grabbed it back, corrected it, and then headed off to play.

I know people who don't have kiddos are probably groaning as they read this- (probably the same way I groan when some blogger does Cat-blogging. I am still, like, WTF is it with the cats?)
but - what brought on this tiny little story about last night was an article over at
Ziem's Views that discussed education and how money factors in to how educated a state's children become and how they might end up as "red" or as "blue" as their state.

In Lubbock, I attended two school districts in high school- one in a poor rural district, (Roosevelt) and the other in the biggest rural district in the state at that time(Frenship) which had tons more money. The difference in faculty as well as classes offered between the two districts cemented in my mind the fact that Money DOES make a huge difference in the quality of education, even within the same county.

But I don't think the educational cost per child affects our red-blue mindset growing up as much as our family environment does. By all rights, I should be yet another rich white Republican who tells racist jokes and puts down everyone who wasn't born with a silver spoon in their mouth. But I had a poor mom who divorced my rich abusive asshole father and didn't take a dime of his damn money.

And she struggled through and survived, sometimes not on very much. But no matter what hardships we experienced, she always took the time to help my brother and I learn and learn with us, as well, about life. She taught me that racism is for fools who are trying to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings . She taught me that hard work is rewarded when it is coupled with working smart, and she taught me that life is too short to be evil to anyone, even your enemies. She instilled in me a joy for reading at a very early age, a respect for books and myself.

So maybe it was just her independence and progressiveness that allowed me to buck the inherited racism from my father and his father and about 90% of the men over the age of 50 in Texas. Maybe it was the time she took to talk to me about all the important things in life that made me want to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before I judged them.

My father taught me that every friend is only an acquaintance in life, someone that sooner or later you will have to rid yourselves of because they will want something from you.

My mother taught me that every acquaintance you have is a friend. And when a friend needs something, you help them if you can, and when you need something, they will help you as well, if they are a good friend.

Yes, it helps your child's education to go to a school that has enough money to pay for new books, better qualified teachers, and have a school board that isn't strapped for cash so much that they can't afford to "splurge" on even basic electorals like art, music, and more than one computer class.

But education starts at home. I see far too many people that are more worried about their kids' free throw stats than their english grades. I see way too many parents that don't seem to take any interest whatsoever in the child's schooling, other than extra curricular activities. The homework looks a little foreign, it has been so long since you have done any of this work that there is a tendency to just force it back on their teachers or a school-appointed tutor, which is most likely just a schoolmate who is a little ahead of your child.

But if you really care about your children's education, there's more to it than simply throwing money at school districts. It means taking some of your own free time, which it seems we have less and less of - and spending it teaching your child life lessons as well as helping them with their school work.

Teach your children well. And you will be amazed at what you learn during the process.


Pam said...

I think this is a great post and an adorable story!! (i have two daughters myself though - my 5 year old is smarter than me already).

Caveman said...

Good post fade..my daughters are all smart..because of me...they even have told me I would make a great President. They love to shoot guns they hat terrorist they even call them bad guys and..they support our military..im a good teacher

Caveman said...

but they sure did not take off my spelling ..hahahaha

Old Broad said...

Fade, your Mother is a remarkable woman.
You HONOR her with the man you are today.
And your daughter will continue the tradition.

Mindy said...

I have to say this is a fine example of how children want to do thier homework. It is evident though that she really cares about her dad because she already knew what you would say. Was her reflection valid....yes because it is exactly the way that things work in the country....the ones who want to will do it while the others sit on thier lazy behinds and do nothing@! :) THanks for sharing this example!