Sunday, April 28, 2013

A little help

We have a project.

A project!

We have a subject, a schedule and a plan.

This is going to be fun.

My mind is whirring with possibilities.

My fingers lace. My nose wrinkles. My eyes crinkle. I am as close to giddy as I get.

We need glue … and scissors … and a ruler ... and that's just for the display. There's research and testing and rehearsing …

“A-hem,” Ittybit interrupts. “What are you doing?”

“I'm helping?”

That sounded wishy-washy; I try again, this time in a more convincing tone: “I'm helping!”

Not quite right. One final time, in case she wasn't paying attention: “Uh, I'm help...”

No sale.

“No! You're NOT helping, you're taking over. This is MY project.”

Ittybit's nine years old, and as any parent of a nine-year-old can tell you, she knows just about everything.

Well .. except how to spell e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, but she assures me it's not on her spelling list and, therefore, not a priority.

I sigh and launch into the rant she can practically lipsync: “Just because you're not being graded doesn't mean you shouldn't try to spell it correctly.”

Now, she may not know everything, but in this case, she is entirely correct: This is her presentation to give. It is hers to research, compile and present.

My place now is to hold my hand firmly over my mouth and make myself busy elsewhere.

Not that it's easy.

Especially when the first draft of her presentation on Basic Dog Obedience includes nothing but a list of steps that would make a prima ballerina look like a two-left-footed dancer.

“You can't just make stuff up. You have to find out how to train a dog using an actual expert source.”

Her mouth slips to one side of her face, and her eyelids curl around so that only slivers of her green eyes are showing.

“Not. Helping,” she chides.

She's right. I'm not helping.

I go back to pretending to dust the cobwebs from the rafters.

She pounds away on the computer keyboard, banging out lines and lines of poetically resplendent course of action that reads like an army obstacle course.

“We can do this eezee, or we can do this hard: It's all up to you and how much effert your are willing to put foureth wen you trane your dog.”

“You know ...” I say from my dust-bunny-eradicating position over her shoulder. “A dictionary would be extremely helpful right about now to check your spelling ...”

“Mom! Stop!” She snaps the lid shut on the laptop and storms away in a huff.

I know she's right, but I can't help myself. There are so many things I could help her with. Tips. Ideas. Things that would make it better …. easier … better … All she needs to do is listen.

But she's heard it all before, and it doesn't make it easier.

It doesn't make it better.

In fact, the more I think about it, my help can only etch away at her growing confidence.

“I don't want you to make it easier. I just want to do it myself.”

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