Friday, August 8, 2008

T minus one weeked and counting: School is starting...Mothers start your engines

Water lilies for peaceful breathing meditation exercise...see below

Dinner tonight is easy....leaving lots of time to get ready for school next week! See below!

Reflections from the Backcounter

I am in near panic mode. (Breathe...look at the water lily picture...stay calm ) Every year at this time I am confronted with the enormity of the challenge that lies ahead....the re-entry process to the school year calendar. (Repeat breathing exercise) The purchasing of school supplies, organizing of closets and clothing are only a prelude to the onslaught of activities, car pooling, lunch packing and stress that lies before me. Not to mention....the homework. I have been in cattle prod mode all summer because my high school junior has had to complete a massive US History project for his AP class during the summer. The project is due on the first day of option for tardiness...or no credit. We are closing in on the finish line and of course this BIG PROJECT is not yet completed. Maybe a cattle prod is not enough...maybe I should contact the Taser company to see if they have made a technological advancement in teenage prodding any event, my whining did not fall on deaf ears. My dear friend, Ruth, was moved to again guest author on the blog to address my hysteria....I am off to buy a calendar and hope this bit of advice from a seasoned veteran of the motherhood wars will offer up some help to you as you face the challenge of school year re-entry.

The BIG Project

Guest blogger: Ruth

The imminent arrival of the new school year is an exciting time.
For parents, it’s the start of a new academic year, fresh with the promise of intellectual reversal of fortune, and the theoretical possibility of straight A’s, multiplied by the number of children they have, equaling scholarly nirvana.
For kids, it’s the end of summer bummer. Period. The mornings get darker, and so do their personalities.
The free-wheeling choices of their summer are replaced with the steady drum-beat of due dates and must-do’s of the teacher tyranny. They get surly just thinking about it.
The older your kids are, the more likely they are to be confronted with Big Projects That Are Due A Long Time From Now.
This speaks to the Conradian heart of darkness in parenting: how to handle the Huge Project without losing your sanity (or worse, doing the project yourself)?
Personally, I always felt that The Big Project was like the part in the wedding ceremony that says "speak now or forever hold your peace."

Sit down now, before school starts, and talk about the Big Projects that are in your future, stacked over "academic Kennedy Airport", waiting to land in your life. Your approach (because you are mature and sane) will be the steady, manageable, do-small-sections-at-a-time approach that breaks down The Big Project into bite-size, painless pieces and yields a project that is finished ahead of time. Your kids’ approach (because they are insane and inexperienced in the ways of the world) will be that they can’t even bear to think about it, and what are you…crazy? This is actually an attempt on their part to make it go away altogether, as if waving a magic wand can remove the dark cloud of The Big Project from their personal horizons. Don’t fall for it.
Plan it like a sales convention in another city. Get it on a paper calendar, and work backwards from the cold, hard deadline. Six chapters to read in six weeks? That’s one chapter each week. Allow writing and review time for essays, and factor in sick time, because it never fails to enter into the picture. Hang the calendar in plain sight, and cross it off daily. I am not joking. If you can start your kids scheduling academic projects this way in middle or high school, they will be organizational aces by the time they really need to do this on their own in college. And that, fellow parents of the world, is your Big Reward from The Big Project!

Thanks Ruth!



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