When I was in the third grade math was not my best subject.
I remember having such a hard time with multiplication that at one point that when I was really falling behind in my grades and the teacher had a conference with my father, I recall the talk he had with me afterwards.
As we stood outside the door of my classroom, in the shadowed hallway, he impressed upon me how very important it was for me to work harder in math, because apparently I was falling behind severely enough that I might be in danger of repeating the third grade next year.
All I remember next were the tears. (Mine of course.)
My father worked second shift, my parents were divorced, and my mother was not around anymore, so after school I would walk home to my grandmother’s house (we called her Nanny). Once there, I would drop my big back pack of books and get ready to sit at the table and do my homework.
My Nanny would busy herself in the kitchen making my dinner, and afterwards she would sit close by in case I needed help.
I pretty much do the same thing with my children.
I come home, everyone gets their homework out, grabs a snack and gets to work and I stay close by in case someone has a question, and I watch over my 6 year olds penmanship.
There was one night that my 9 year old was having trouble with her math worksheet.
When I looked at her work, I felt that she was not trying hard enough since after only two problems in, she started asking me for the answers. I told her to work harder to try to solve the problems and she eventually did.
Of course she wasn’t very pleased with me but she went off and did it.
When she came back in to show me, I told her how proud I was that she could get the answers all by herself and she said she was proud of herself too! She was glowing!!
I then shared with her how when I was her age, I also had a hard time with math, and that I almost stayed back. I explained how my grandmother felt bad for me and she would give me the answers.
My daughter looked surprised. Then she asked very hesitantly…‘Mommy, if I was about to stay back, would you give me the answers?’
When I answered, 'No’, she looked even more surprised! She couldn’t even speak for a moment.
Until I said, ‘I would not give you the answers because that would be cheating, but I would work really hard every day helping you study and I would do everything in my power to get you the extra help so that you would not stay back.’
She looked so relieved and happy; she jumped into my arms and gave me a great big hug!
This is the way I see it; if the work is that difficult for one of my children, then they need assistance and some extra help, not the answers.
Giving them the answers and denying them the valuable education they need to carry them through the rest of their life, would be wrong.
Not only that, but helping her cheat would be teaching her that the ends justify the means.
She was shocked that day to know that I would not help her cheat to prevent her from repeating a grade, but she respected me at the same time; you could see it on her face.
That day, she became very confident that I would stick with her, no matter what, and no matter how long... and that I would do right by her.
Tough love...is what teaches the best lesons sometimes...