For better or for worse, kids take after their parents. It’s part of the design of the institution. Parents contribute the genetic material and the environment, and, by and large, their kids will become easily recognizable by outsiders as being a member of that family.
Usually when I see my kids exhibiting my character traits and behaviours, it’s the bad ones that stick out, and I find myself cringing under the knowledge that I’ve contributed both my nature and my nurture to what I’m seeing. Yesterday, however, I had to laugh hysterically as I sat across the table from my little doppelganger.
The grade 3 curriculum focusses heavily on narrative writing at this stage of the year, and so we have watched our son‘s creativity unfold in some pretty wild, imaginative stories. Currently Teddy is devouring C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia together with his father, so he has been inspired to write fantasy stories. His teacher is impressed by his imagination, but not so impressed by his lack of brevity. Every day he starts a new story in school, but all of them lie unfinished in his work basket because he runs out of time to put all his ideas on paper.
Still, his teacher recognizes his writing ability, and pairs him up with students who are weaker in this department, hoping that they might glean a thing or two from his fertile imagination. Predictably, he’s the one doing the work while his partner is content to apply herself to other unrelated pursuits. (At this point I must interject and concur with the writer of Ecclesiastes: “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever…That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun… smart kids will always do the work of slackers, and teachers will always think it’s a good idea to pair them up in a vain attempt at peer improvement . If this was true for your mother’s generation, it will be true for yours.” [1:4 & 9, amplified somewhat])
But I digress. Teddy enjoys and excels at writing, and so I was surprised when he expressed his dread at the writing requirement of the upcoming Province-wide Standardized Test, the EQAO.
“Mom, we have to write a one-page narrative on our EQAO test!”
“Oh Teddy, that’s a piece of cake,” I answered. “That’ll be no problem for you.”
“Mom,” (with that lilt in his voice that develops around age 6 and indicates that your kid has figured out that sometimes you’re just plain dense) “you don’t understand. When I write, I write six pages, not one. That’s impossible!”
There are times in my life as a parent when I shake my head because I just can’t understand my kid. Then there are times when I’m pretty sure my kid was cloned, because it could be me sitting there in that little body expressing those same frustrations about word counts and limits on literary creativity. I looked over at my husband, who is nothing like our son in this respect, and who just could not wipe the grin off his face. “What?” I said in in our defence, “There are just so many good words out there that it’s hard to only pick a few.”
That being said, I’d just like to point out that this piece is under 600 words – a personal best for me in my pursuit of brevity.