Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Dog Ate the Homework

For the last few weeks, my 4th-grade daughter has been half-heartedly begrudgingly painstakingly diligently working on a HUGE project at school. It's the dreaded 4th-grade "Famous Missourian Project" that is a rite of passage for the kiddies in our school district. Perhaps you have something similar - where the child is assigned a person to research, write a paper on, and then dress up in costume as that person and present an oral presentation.

We have known about this project - well, since before daughter was born, actually - as it is something that is legend. In her particular case, we have known since February who her "person" is - she was assigned Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who went on and became a famous author in her own right.

The month of March was spent gathering resources and reading library books and scouring the internet for all information pertaining to Rose Wilder Lane.

The month of April was spent assembling all of the information and notes and putting it all together into a paper.

A week ago, the teacher emailed the parents, stating that the teacher-approved rough draft would be coming home on Friday, April 23rd from school...parents were to edit the draft (since when do parents get assigned homework? Grrrr...that bugs) and the final copy of the paper was due Monday, April 26th.

So, on Friday, April 23rd, daughter is home from's about 7:00 pm that night, and we're having dinner. Never one to procrastinate on schoolwork, I figure I'll get my editing done that night so daughter can type the final copy on Saturday. And we can get this baby over with.

"So, I want to edit your Rose paper tonight...after we finish here with dinner, go grab your rough draft from your backpack and let me look at it," I say to Daughter.

Daughter sits there...fork pausing midway to her mouth...and then suddenly, her eyes get as big as saucers, she bursts into tears, and wails, "OHHHHH NOOOOOO!"

"WHAT?!?!" I shriek.

"I left my paper at school!!!!" This is stated between hiccups of sobbing and wailing that were registering on the Richter scale.

Are you kidding me??!!??!! Oh. no. she. didn't.

The biggest project of the YEAR is sitting on her school...on a Friday night...and it is due on Monday. I swear, I wanted to beat my head on the table. Or beat her. I wanted to beat something, I'm tellin' ya.

Daughter, in between the histrionics and wailing, begins begging me to write an email to the teacher and ask for an extension on the paper...her plan of action is to bring the paper home on Monday night and then turn it in on Tuesday. She implored me to see the beauty of her plan and to save her butt.

And this is where I said no. As much as it pained me, I told her that she would have to start over again - from scratch, basically - and recreate the paper. She'd have to use the internet and encyclopedias at home and re-write the paper. I told her the rough draft would be due - to me - on Saturday night, so I could edit - and then she could type the paper on Sunday and turn it in - when it was due - on Monday. No extensions.

And that's what she did. She spent pretty much all of last weekend re-creating the paper. And she turned it in on Monday, just like the other kids. It was tough love - but I hope it taught my daughter a valuable lesson in responsibility.

Sometimes, these lessons are painful - not just for the child, but for the parent, as well. It was hard seeing how upset my Daughter was - and wanting so much to make it better for her....

But I know we did the right thing in the end.

And a bonus (said with sarcasm): we are certainly experts now on Rose Wilder Lane. If Rose Wilder Lane were to ever come up in conversation at a party, I am so on it.




Bradley said...

Alternatively she could have just printed out another copy.

Drama Queen said...

Um...printed out another copy of...what? She never had a copy saved on the computer...she DID have a handwritten copy up at school....

melanie said...

This is almost exactly the main project we'll be doing for our homeschool co-op next year! I'm actually really excited about it, but I can already hear the groans the kids will make when I tell them about it!