Dr. Laura says that we have two chances in life for a loving parent-child relationship, meaning that if your parents screwed it up, you can get it right with your own child. I grew up in fear, and one fear was the terror involved in asking my mother for things which needed to be purchased. This included everything from popsicle sticks for a Girl Scout project to shoes because I had outgrown my only pair. Such a request would invariably be met with a bitching diatribe about how "I'm not made of money!", etc., at which I would cower and hide.
One result for me was that when it came time to work on school or Girl Scout projects, I'd procrastinate and also do a terrible job. I never had the materials I needed to complete the projects like the other kids, I had no confidence, and no matter how much effort I made, my mother would, in the end, insult my final result, even if I received an "A" on the project.
Skip to the year 2010. My youngest daughter is super-industrious. If she has a school project to complete which is due in three weeks, she finishes it with two weeks to spare, often asking for no help other than spell-check and asking me to buy posterboard.
Last night, I was blown away when my middle daughter Olivia came home in alarm, announcing that there was a book project due on October 5, which she had apparently not known about. I know she's a fast reader, so I calmed her down and told her she had plenty of time to read the book.
She replied, "Oh, I've already read the book." Then she walked around, gathered a Corn Flakes box, scissors, wrapping paper, tape, and proceeded to work on and complete the three-dimensional book report over the course of the next two hours. Nowadays, kids don't necessarily "write" book reports like we did in the 60's and 70's. They turn them into marketing projects with both writing and artwork.
This morning, Olivia brought the project to school, six days before it was due. On the way home from dropping her off at school, I cried. All the terror from my childhood came flooding back, and I was comparing it to the ease with which Olivia approached her school project, knowing that Mommy would help her with any part of the project that she couldn't complete alone. "Where do we keep the wrapping paper?" "How do I wrap a box?" Etc.
I want to tell Dr. Laura that I've checked another box on the list of "Second Chances: Getting Things Right With Your Own Kids." What a relief.