I just read a Miss Manners column that was about a babysitter expected by the parents of a 5-year-old to do the child's kindergarten project. I never got that whole thing. I never helped my daughter with her projects. Okay, I shouldn't say "never helped." I didn't DO her projects. I would take her to the store to buy supplies or answer questions and there was one project that I found fascinating. It involved building a contraption to protect an egg from falling 200 feet, or something like that. But generally I did not get involved at all. Many times she would come home from school and say things like, "My project did okay, but Jenny's mom did her whole project and she got an A+." Then we'd have that talk. "But don't you feel good about yourself, that YOU did your own project?" I found it sickening that we even had to have that talk each time. My whole generation was so obsessed with their children's self-esteem it was disgusting. Sure, I wanted Kate to have good self-esteem, but I did that by complimenting her accomplishments, not her very existence.
It was just odd that I read that column today because a little while back I was trying to find out the name of a plant and realized that I didn't know even basic leaf descriptions. Then I remembered something from sixth grade. My best friend was a year older than me. Her mom asked me if I was going to have the leaf collection project that year. She told me that she had done it the year before and had a blast doing it. She practically begged me to let her do it for me. When the project did come up, I let her do it for me. She did a great job and I got an A. I hadn't really thought of that in years until I wanted to type in a description of the unknown plant and realized how ignorant I was about leaves. I'm pretty sure if I had done the leaf project I would have had that basic knowledge. I was robbed of that. Just as all children whose parents do the work for them will be robbed. Why do they keep doing that?