Monday, October 12, 2009

Lessons Learned Sooner Rather Than Later

This picture was taken around 8:35PM last Thursday night.

Do you see that orange folder there on the chair?

It's my 6 year old's homework folder filled with his homework packet that is due back at school the next morning. A packet of 8 worksheets that came home on Monday, to be returned on Friday. He worked on it a little each day all through the week, very diligently without my nagging him.

After finishing the last worksheet, he put the homework packet into his folder, but didn't put the folder in his backpack.

Now he is in bed and I am staring at the folder.

My son and I have talked several times about setting up his backpack with everything he needs for the next day, the night before.

I know the folder is in danger of being overlooked there on the chair in the hustle and bustle of the morning.

I want so much to swoop in and fix the situation.

It would be so easy, only taking about 2 seconds of my time, to put the folder into his backpack for him.

It might even feel good, like I was taking care of my baby, protecting him from a potentially bad and uncomfortable situation at school without his homework.

But I don't do it.

Because I don't want to have to do it for the next 11 years.

Because someday he'll go off to college and I won't be there to do it for him.

Because the consequence for forgetting 1st grade homework is so much more bearable than the consequences for forgetting a high school term paper, or important notes for a key client at his grown-up job.

Because I remember the one time I didn't have my homework at school. I was mortified and it never happened again.

Because sometimes the consequences life can deliver teach the lesson so much better than a mom can.

Because I believe sometimes being a mom is about the things you
don't do for your kids.

Will he be grateful someday?

Probably not, but this mothering job is not about thanks!

Check out Gratituesday, Tackle it Tuesday, and Tuesdays Unwrapped.


  1. It is hard not to protect our babies from the simplest things but you are doing the right thing. But gentle reminders if you have everything ready doesn't hurt either. They have to stop and think what that thing is.

  2. I would give gentle reminders too about checking to see if his bag has been packed properly. It does take some discipline on their part(The kids) to be able to make sure that they have their stuff in order.

  3. That is a great thing to think about! I have a first grader who is getting used to the new routine as well. It IS tough to balance teaching responsibility with wanting to help.

  4. I've never thought of it this way. My son is in first grade, and doesn't even like to lay out his own clothes. I've been doing it for him, but maybe I'll start having him do that, then move on to other things. I do want him to be more independent. Thanks for giving me something to think about! :)

  5. Just last night I had to give gentle reminders, more than once, for my 9th grader to put his school book in his bookbag. As he won't feel like doing it in the morning. He finally put it away. Leaves a Mom to wonder, what if I wasn't there!?

  6. It is so hard being a mom. You want to protect and take care of them but it is ultimately our job to teach them to protect and take care of themselves. Tough call but I think you made the right one:-)

  7. I often want to do things for my daughter even at a very young age. The lessons we teach them now become so important down the road. I hope he remembered it this morning. Thanks for sharing

  8. I have been going through this same thing with my 3rd grader. I also volunteer in his classroom and one day his teacher and I were talking about kids and homework and I told her that my kid did not have his homework. I explained to her essentially the same thing you said in your post and she said that she was glad to hear that and that she wishes now that she would have done that with her own kids. That it was so much better for kids to have those consequences now and learn responsibility than to try to teach it to them later on. :) So from a teacher's point of view (or at least one of my son's teachers) it's also a good thing to do. Good luck to you and good job!

  9. This is something I love about your writing! You always pull me in and I feel a connection because of little life things that happen to everyone with kids....BUT use it to teach incredible lessons in parenting, etc. Thank you!

  10. What a great mama! Wow I would have never looked at it that way. My oldest is 2 and I can't even comprehend the mothering of a first grader. Good job tackling his responsibility:)

  11. Such a great reminder that learning with natural consequences is much easier when the consequences are smaller - helping isn't always helping, is it?

  12. This generation has had parents who did so much for them (thinking it was helping) that it's made them weak. You should be commended.

  13. Boy oh boy. I needed this tonight. You don't know how much of an encouragement this post was to me.

    Thanks, friend.

  14. We are in a similar boat with our first graders. I understand when he slips up and forgets something but a gentle reminder tends to get him right back in line.

    Sometimes I have trouble realizing if I am overstepping and I get mad at myself later when I realize it's something he could have done on his own.

    It is tough but I agree with the other's you made the right call.


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