Manipulation Nation

So my daughter has been home sick for the last two days. It started on Sunday when she began complaining of a sore throat and a head ache and did indeed look very pale. She slept all day Monday and said that she was still feeling ill on Tuesday. So okay. My husband and I had to attend take 2 of our youngest’s disastrous presentation on rabbits at the school and my mother was working so we left her at home. Which is not why I am writing this post. It is just what happened. She is ten and not stupid and knows all the numbers so if you are thinking of making that the big deal in the story you can just shut it right now. So there.

The big deal came when I was at her school picking up the items she said she needed on her list. That is when I talked to her teacher who told me she had missed part 1 and 2 of their big end of the year math evaluation. And that she did not know her multiplication tables. And, not to criticise my parenting, but could it be possible that we were not practising them at home?


First hard lesson for both of us: giving your kids more responsibility and the freedom to screw up means you are also putting yourself at risk for appearing like a negligent parent. I know the risk, I know that it is appearances only, but it still kind of stings. Still wouldn’t forego this hard lesson for her: you don’t do your work, you end up feeling bad, stressed out and worried, not to mention a little stupid, which is what my daughter was feeling.

Okay. Here comes the manipulation nation part. When I got home and confronted her, she said, with crocodile tears in her voice and her eyes all puppy dog sad, “I wanted to practise them with you but you were never home.”

Pause to let that sink in. Now usually, that would make me feel rather terrible, except for the fact it was such a load of hooey I could almost smell it. It didn’t even make me angry, actually. It made me exasperated, for sure, and I shut down the amateur attempt at making me feel guilty quicker than a frog catching a fly.

I told her at the beginning of the year that she was responsible for her homework. All I do is ask if she has any. And yes, it is true, my husband has been home more than I at night. But he is very capable of helping her practice as well as my mother who lives in the apartment above us and is a teacher. No, there was no excuses. She just didn’t do the work and is now reaping the consequences. She now has to practise them during the summer so that she could learn her division as well and be ready for 5th grade.

So yes, the time has come. I have to put my money where my mouth is and actually deal with the consequences of giving my children enough freedom for them to screw up, fall down and pick themselves up. And then rinse and repeat the cycle. But that is not a bad thing. My eldest actually learned that sometimes NOT doing something is harder than just doing it. And that is the kind of lesson that can only be learned on one’s own.

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