Would you like to know the way I spent this past weekend? Well, I ended up doing helping my eight year old do a report and project on Louis Armstrong. Since it is Black History month the teacher at my son’s private school required them to write a report, make a memory box and display board. Now, I don’t remember at eight years old ever having to do something this involved. At eight I think we were just starting to read, but alas this is the way things are now…we expect our youngsters to be years ahead in some respects then get upset when they act their age. Anyway, the project was assigned a few weeks ago and like any eight year old boy, my son waited until this weekend to put it together. Needless, to say I learned a lot about Louis this weekend.
Now I have always been the kind of person that when an assignment is given to me (for work, school, volunteering, etc.) I don’t wait around to do the assignment because it literally eats away at me. If I don’t start the project right away I get very nervous and feel ‘under the gun.’ Ahhhh….to be eight……..apparently this is not a trait my son and I share. I told him a week ago to start reading up about Armstrong. He did this in about two minutes in a book that had a tiny paragraph devoted to the singer/trumpet player/dancer. I asked him what he learned and I think his words were something to the effect, “he sings jazz.” I asked him if he jotted any notes down and he looked dumbfounded. “What do you mean notes?” This is when I asked him if his teacher had gone over just how to do this project. I mean it’s one thing to tell a kid what they need to do, but if the kids have no idea what you’re talking about then how are they going to do it?
I spent the next few hours with my son finding all kinds of information on the internet, listening and watching some videos on YouTube, and trying to devise our report. Isn’t this something the teacher should be doing? I knew I had one of two options….1.) I could let him do it on his own entirely and he would learn by trial and error (and witness a project that would make me cringe from the lack of neatness)…or 2.) I could pretty much walk him through the process showing him how I would do it so he had a better understanding the next time how to do it all on his own. I, of course, chose the latter.
By nature I am an extremely neat and orderly person. I am especially so when it comes to putting a display together. When I went to school for Interior Design my boards and projects were one of the neatest in the class, if I must say so myself. I can’t tell you the worry that overcame me when I thought of how my eight-year-old would put together his display board and memory box. The report he did pretty well, albeit, I interjected some key points that otherwise he would have passed by…but he’s eight. The memory box and display board I held my breath on. We went to a craft store to try to find anything that would represent Louis Armstrong. When we got home I worked with my son on how to lay everything out and put the pieces in the box so it looked organized….all the while he had his Bionicle in his hand acting like it was flying. That was enough for one night.
The next night we worked on the display board. This is a tri-fold display board….oh goody – more pictures and pages to line up neatly without getting glue all over. My son and I looked on the internet for pictures of Armstrong, his house, his records, etc….again, all the while my son is flying his Bionicle on some sort of ship and dancing to the music playing on my ipod. When it was actually time to adhere everything to the board and put his lettering on I really had to muster up the guts to let him do it. Anyone who knows me has to knows how difficult this would be for me.
I drew guide lines on the board so my son knew where to place the pictures. He actually did a very good job. I was impressed. Now had the lines not been there I’m sure it would have been a different story, as I can attest to by the lettering placed on the back of his board. It kind of looks like his letters dropped off a cliff………but he’s eight. So he takes his project to school and I’m more excited than him to find out how his rates next to his classmates. And you know what he tells me? “Mine isn’t nearly as nice as my friends. They made really neat memory boxes.” I’m thinking how can this be? So I inquire as to what makes them so nice and he tells me how one has a basketball in it and one has a whistle made out of clay. And this is when it dawns on me…….he thinks the projects that his friends did (probably more on their own than with the help of their parent), no doubt, not as neat, are better than what he did…..and I say to myself, “I should have let him do it all on his own….he would have been happier with it.” Oh well, as a parent you certainly live and you learn. I just hope we he gets an “A”.