Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Preschool Lessons

Well, it happened. Jackson came home with an assignment on his first day of preschool. The directions were attached to a large piece of white construction paper. I was supposed to help Jackson make a banner using our family name. We could trace our handprints, glue things on it, use pictures, or do whatever we wanted to tell our family's story. Having just been on a great vacation to Wyoming that produced tons of fun pictures, I thought we should put them to good use. I've always loved making collages, so this would be fun.

Then the questions started bombarding my mind. Does this need to look like a child did it, or do they really want me to do it? The directions said it would go on the wall, so maybe it's supposed to be part of the room decor and it needs to look nice.

Being a first-time preschool parent, I'd never been faced with this dilemma before. BigMama's stories about Caroline's Fiesta float came to mind. If I err, do I want to err on the side of not good enough or too good? My perfectionist tendencies overtook my willingness to submit myself to my three-year-old's creative genius and it came out like this.



I'm so ashamed. I did let him pick out the pictures, though.

Curtis is the one who takes Jackson to school, so I called him just minutes after I knew he would have dropped him off. "Did you see the other posters?" I begged him to tell me they all looked like ours. He'd only glimpsed a corner of one and couldn't tell. "The teacher said it looked nice."

Nice. Is that good or bad?

As I entered the wing of classrooms to pick him up yesterday afternoon, I was faced with the humiliation of my life. There on the wall of the hallway - not inside the classroom as I had thought - the children's artwork was proudly displayed. It took .5 seconds for me to realize that one of these things is not like the others. Every other poster had handprints. Every other poster had evidence of a three-year-old's scribbling. Every other poster was right and ours was wrong! Wrong in big, bold letters, with brightly colored polkadot scrap paper and obnoxious Disney pictures. Wrong with our named spelled out for everyone to see! Wrong with the faces of our family, so that the horrible mother who is too OCD to do crafts with her son can be easily identified! Oh the horror!

Seriously, I've never been more embarrassed. All I could say to the teachers was a mild thank you as they returned my boy to me. I didn't dare make eye contact in case I was about to get in big trouble and have to go to the principal's office. We scurried away as fast as humanly possible with a baby on my right hip and a leaping, bounding child holding my left hand.

I have no idea how long those posters are going to greet every single person who passes through the hallway, but I am praying to our merciful Lord that He will see that I've learned my lesson and let them come down soon. I don't know how long I can bear to face my public shame!

Please, someone, comfort me in my time of grief and tell me I'm not alone. Did you do something really dumb when your kid was in school?

I called my mom as soon as I got in the car. She was both embarrassed for me and pleased to have been given such a great laugh at my expense. I had just been to my first Motherwise meeting that morning and she said, "Honey, one day when you are older and leading something like Motherwise, that's the story you're going to share." She's probably right. But if anyone would like to learn my lesson now, then be my guest.

115 comments:

Smelling Coffee said...

Amanda, your mom is right - this will be a funny lesson learned for the future.

And for the record, I like to do these kinds of things for my children too. The secret is convincing them of what it should look like, then letting them scribble on part of it (like making a border around it) while you fix the rest. ;-) (jk - kind of - ha ha)

Bobbie said...

Amanda,
I think you and Jackson did a beautiful job! I reread the 'instructions' you received several times & I think you did a great! It looks like you did a 'banner' with Jackson's family name on it---you let him pick out family pictures---it tells 'his family story' and his likes (Cars) and past times.

It looks like you sat down with him and talked about the project and he was a part of it. Obviously as he gets older, he'll take on 'the doing' part of these kinds of assignments, but this time--hold your head high. The other Mom's may have had some experience with older kiddos and decided to let them do their own.

We all know what a great Mom you are and are proud of Jackson's first homework!! Just don't go to work as the Attendance Secretary at his high school during his Sr. year!! Our son will never let me live that one down and he's 32!

You'll have many chances in the next 14 years to let him do his thing!!!

jennyhope said...

this is so me. i would probably enter a coloring contest just for morgan. i seriously would have done the same exact thing but she probably would not have even been able to pick out the pictures before I ran to have it laminated! LOL

Erica said...

Oh, sweet friend, I am guilty of gently guiding my little one's hand to just the right spot for an eye or helping them form just the right shape for a mouth. The poster is really cute and will look great hanging in his room just as soon as he comes home. Maybe you could let him make one with you and your could quickly exchange it one the board : )

Jamie said...

As a teacher, I would love to put your mind at ease. Truth be told, I'm sure the other parents will end up doing their child's next project because they will have terrible memories of allowing them to do this project alone. You are normal and there is no need to lose sleep over the name project. Wait until high school science fair projects. :)

Marla Taviano said...

Oh, Amanda! I wish I had the perfect, comforting words.

I'm the Slacker Mom. Last year, Ava had NO POSTER for when she was student of the week, because I forgot! Imagine--the only first grader without an All About Me poster.

And I never turn stuff in on time, and I lose field trip forms, and everything is always late. It's awful.

That probably didn't even help, did it? They should be more clear with instructions.

diana said...

Ohhhh don't feel bad... I've done that with every project my boys have ever brought home (ummmm they are 11, 15 & 16 now)- there is NO WAY I could let a project out of this house without it being perfect. LOL. Next time - maybe let him do some of the gluing so it looks messier! :)

Joyce said...

Don't be too hard on yourself...I taught preschool and kindergarten and believe me...you are not the first parent to 'help' their child with a project. In fact my husband will still on occasion mention the "Jamestown incident' of my oldest daughter's 5th grade year. Yes I said 5th grade. He 'helped'. And he got an A : )

It's hard but you'll figure it out. I always had students who could spend hours gluing a trillion scraps of paper precisely onto a project and the flip side too- students who slapped one tiny scrap of paper onto a project or slashed a quick crayon mark across the page and then said 'I'm done' and was off to play with blocks. Both are okay.

The great thing about preschool-there is lots of art so those posters will rotate out before too long. Plus, the other moms all have their own worries about their own little one and they truly are not judging you here.

Enjoy this year...the preschool years are such sweetness.

Mrs Lemon said...

I probably would have done the same thing.

Whenever you get that back, though, you should frame it for his room. It looks fabulous!

Tammie Head said...

Sister I FEEL your pain. I'm laughing, but I'm also painfully remembering my own OCD moments with Peyton!!! Like the time I made her a wagon for Rodeo Day by calling one of our plumber friends and having him help us out with PVC pipe. Yeah.

Now that I'm thinking of it, maybe that is why Peyton is much more OCD than Savannah ever thought about being. Oh no.

You live and you learn... and you laugh later on.

Love you.

Jill said...

When our first son was in preschool they asked us to make a horse for Roundup Days. A stick horse he would ride in a parade.
I made his. It was adorable. There was a week before it was due. I showed it to my sister in law. She very gently told me that this was to be a "family project".
She'd been in my shoes before.
We made a new horse. It had a huge-huge head. Too much hair and was so top heavy the stick almost broke in the parade. But my son was so thrilled. So happy.
It was a great lesson in letting go. Don't hold your head in shame. Be thrilled that you learned the lesson early. The other parents probably have older kids and have done it their way before.

Heather said...

Oh NO, bless your sweet heart! It does look cute, though!

Melissa Stover said...

really, who could know exactly which direction to go? i'm sure you did better than you think you did. it's hard figuring out teacher assignments.

Leslie Lauren said...

Amanda, please be grateful that you actually did the project and turned it in on time.

Last year was Corbin's first year of "real school." Kindergarten was going incredibly well...to the point that I got used to him not having homework and forgot to check the backpack. I found out on a Wednesday that we were the only people in class who had not turned in a Family Tree project...it had been due the previous Monday and had been assigned the previous FRIDAY. Mortification? You bet.

What's even funnier is that the project had to do with putting pictures of your family on a piece of paper. Corbin wanted to draw our entire family, which I thought was very cute. He called each grandparent to ask what color their eyes were, just so everything would be perfect. The following week they had Grandparent's Day, and to my horror, both sets of grandparents came back saying, "Um, why was our family tree the only one without real pictures on it?"

NICE. I actually got defensive and told them they should be proud of their grandson for his originality and ingenuity. ;)

Leigh said...

Oh my goodness!! You are so funny! I would so do that too! So thank you sooo much for the head's up. My daughter, Emma, starts pre-k next Tuesday! I will definitely have to remember this!!

Lindsey said...

Thanks for that! I needed to hear it because I would have done the same thing. I am a scrap booker and would have pulled out all the stops!

Moose Mama said...

Oh dear. I wish it hadn't happened but it did. So you need not hang your head in shame. The teacher should have given more specific instructions. Yeah, that's it.

I didn't usually "do" my kids' projects, but my husband....well that's another story.

Emily brought home a large piece of paper in 1st or 2nd grade, much like Jackson. She was supposed to do the same sort of project as you....er Jackson. I let my hubs help her...he's artsier than me. Yeah, he made a shield and crossed sabres and well, it did not look like a 6 or 7 year old had done it. Our name was also enblazoned across the top. AND the teacher laminated the silly thing and it hung in the room ALL stinking year. Or at least it felt like ALL year.

I feel your pain.

Melana in Wyoming

Annika said...

Mmmmm...I've done nearly the exact same thing with my first son in preschool...been the over-achiever parent that made a picture collage in photoshop and had it printed at Alpha Graphics...only to find it in the "All About Me" book with all the other pages of preschooler's scribbles and handprints. I so hear you.

renee said...

hehehe! As a mommy of three (6,8 & 17), I STILL struggle with projects like that! I have made the mistake in both directions (more than once!)and they are both equally as embarrassing! Don't worry, chances are, the other moms are probably too busy critiquing their own child's work and not paying tooooooo much attention to your "mishap". This is one of the main reasons I homeschool! ; )

WendyB said...

When my daughter started preschool, we were instructed to send a spare set of clothes to be kept at the school. I stayed up all night the night before, making a cute cloth drawstring bag to send Betsy's things in. The next day, it was unceremoniously sent home, along with her "tinkle accident" wet garments. (humiliation on the first day.) I dutifully sent everything back freshly laundered...the empty bag was sent home again with a note that said, "We prefer the spare clothes in a gallon size ziploc bag, labeled with her name in black marker." (double humiliation) The note had a PS - "please do not send Betsy's paci again for naptime." (a trifecta of complete first time preschool mom humiliation!)

psm260 said...

I have an opposite example! When my son was in preschool, an assignment came home that said the teacher was putting together a "cookbook" with kids' recipes in it. The way she wrote the instructions made it clear to me that I was to talk to my son and write down what he said. Of course, it was hilarious. Only one other mom did it the way I did. All the others copied down their child's favorite recipe in nice handwriting. The teacher printed it and gave us all a copy, never saying which interpretation was what she meant! My advice would always be -- preschool is for the children, so do things from their perspective! It's MUCH more entertaining that way, too! (and no one is probably noticing your banner -- they're all looking at their own!)

Tracy said...

Been there ... done that. "My" Kindergartener's project looked amazing ... and it was the only one that did. I really should have known better though. I am a Kindergarten teacher. HA!

Ashley McWhorter said...

Oh, girl! I have done it every year for my children. It's OK. :) It also falls under the same category of why I do not let my children dress themselves and why my 5 year old still wears huge bows in her hair!!! Stick with it girl! HA! :)

Mindy said...

Amanda, I'm sorry! I know that feeling.....as a former teacher I have to FORCE myself not to do my kids 'projects' and not tell them to make it "better" in ways I think it should be done.
I'm sorry you had to expirience that -- but it does make a great story and I'm sure you learned something from the whole thing. =)

The Barfuss Family said...

Okay friend - just know this...all the teachers and parents who walk by are going to greatly enjoy looking at all your photos. :)

Cathryn said...

When my son was in 5th grade, he had to do a poster about a country. He chose France, and I had the great idea to use the overhead projector to draw a big picture of France on his board for him. His teacher commented on what a good job he did, and he said "oh my mom did my poster". I didn't do it all, I just helped...alot...he glued everything on himself! Three years later, that same teacher still teases me every time she sees me about doing Jake's fifth grade project!

Mimi said...

I am so glad I am not in "this category" alone. Last year my daughter had to make a "Summer Memories" box for her CampFire end of year cookout. I couldn't get clear instructions from her about the details but understood it would hold her summer keepsakes, and THERE WAS A CONTEST! So "we" covered the box with bright paper and made a faux beach scene on top of the box complete with shiny blue paper, aka water, a 3 dimensional beach umbrellas sticking out of the sand (genuine sand from Cocoa Beach, Florida) and cute glitter flip flops. WELL, I was so embarrassed when we arrived at the cookout and I saw all the cute little boxes handmade by each girl! Ours was very "standout" and I secretly prayed the judge would NOT pick Hunter's box because I felt so bad for the other girls. BUT, we did have a very cute box for our summer memories!
Great story, Thanks!
Mandy

Deidre said...

Amanda - I am so comforted to read your post. Seriously. I hate that you went through such embarrasment, but our Lord is so sweet to allow you to to comfort myself - ha!

I started working as a preschool assistant this year JUST SO I could be near my 'baby' (age 4) in Transitional Kindergarten. My classroom is right next door to hers. She brought home her assignment the first day which was to make an 'all about me' poster. I was to 'help' her. To my defense, there were questions on the poster like 'favorite color', 'favorite food', etc. and ofcourse, she can't write her answers, right? So, I filled out the entire poster, glued on pictures and let her color some of the stars. Now, hanging in the school hallway are all the TK posters and my child's is the only one with adult writing. Ugh!!! All the others have scribbles and handprints on them. I was so ashamed. We are now in WEEK THREE and they are STILL THERE. What on earth??? I break out in a sweat everytime I pass them. I CANNOT WAIT until they are removed.

All that to say ... you are not alone!

Yankee Mama said...

Oh Amanda, I am so sorry. I love this post! Too funny! HAaaaaaaaa! I was laughing out loud, for real!

Anyone could have made the same mistake!!

Anyway, Jackson has it made when he needs help on projects once he's older!

Haley said...

I'm sorry, Amanda! I've haven't been through anything like this yet, but you've definitely taught me something! Don't feel too bad about it! It's only preschool and no one will remember it!

Prairie Rose said...

You know, every other mommy is probably looking at yours and going, "Wow... *I* should have done something cool like that. I'm such a bad mom!"

However... if I were you, I'd rush out and get another piece of large white construction paper and let Jackson make a new one that matches the others. Take it in and explain your humiliation to the teacher and beg her to replace it. :)

Honea Household said...

I, uh, probably would've done the same thing.

jenmom said...

Oh Amanda! I am so with you on this one! It has been so hard for me to step back and let my daughter do her own work and she is 11 and in the sixth grade!
It gets easier. I promise. And it is such a delight to see them work hard and take ownership of their projects, even if it isn't done like we would have done them.
No judgment here sweet sister!
Jennifer

Rhonda said...

Oh if I could only remember them all! This too shall pass:-)

Sarah said...

I'm hurting for you! Those things are so hard to figure out--I went to a Bible study recently and had done my "homework" project quickly (Who has time to spend an hour on art projects when you have 3 kids?), and I was mortified when EVERYBODY else had done serious graphic arts/drawing/decorating on theirs. I felt like a complete slacker. So I'm feeling your pain in reverse!!

Barr Family said...

Hi Amanda. I teach preschool, and we do some home projects too. You aren't the only one!!! :) I'm sure the teachers weren't worried about it at all. I am a little craft OCD too at home...now at school is one thing with the kid tables and tile floors and school atmoshpere, but even a few of us teachers have a hard time working up the courage to do stuff at home. It's okay! I thought it was cute!

sos said...

I understand how you felt but he is only in preschool and this your first experience. My sister was still doing this for her son when he was in high school! You learned your lesson early on--thank the Lord He made it easy for you to swallow now.
You are so tender hearted--God bless you.

kelly said...

This is SO me!!! Only, for me, it has only gotten worse!!! Started out like that, went to History Day's, Science Fairs, etc....(I have 3 boys,one in college, highschool and 8th grade) every time, I say "Lord, I promise, I will not overtake my child's creativity with MY perfectionism"....then before you know it, I'm like a madwoman, glueing, making scrapbook borders, and typing beautiful writings!! As my child gets in the car, I'm so excited, asking him, "what grade did I get?". Don't feel bad Amanda, we have all been there!!!
I know the Lord loves me, and He has grace and mercy for me!! Better yet, He has grace and mercy for my children knowing full well the mother they have!!!
God loves us so, doesn't He!!!

Melissa said...

Travis shared a funny story like this too at the simulcast this weekend about the poster for Lily! Ha!

It is also hard for me to sit back and watch my girls come up with "messy looking" artwork or reports when me and 10,000 scrapbook tools could make it so much more fancier, but what would they learn....ahhh, motherhood with OCD!

O:)
Melissa

Tim and Jackie said...

Yes! I did the exact same thing 2 years ago when my son was 3! The assignment was to make a poster that represented the child and their interests that would hang prominently in the preschool room during their designated week. It could include favorite foods, movies, activities, pictures, etc. I am not a scrapbooker but I went all out as if I was. I had "soccer" paper behind a picture of my son playing soccer and the same for every other activity. I had fancy letters for his name and borders. My son loved it! However, I wished I had paid more attention to all those before our week because the ones after made ours clearly stand out as they all had more evidence of a preschooler's touch. I learned my lesson too, but can certainly laugh now. By the way, I did save the poster! :)

pam said...

I am always the one that either goes too far or not enough for preschool. This is my 8th consecutive year of preschool at our church and I still get nerves finishing things. Just take a deep breath and know that you are who you are and your kids know that also. Honestly, none of the kids could do any of the projects "on their own" anyway. The joke among my friends is that none of us seem to match up so some imaginary expectations. Good luck and know that you are not alone.
Pam

Heather M. in AL said...

You are NOT the only one. :) As a school librarian, I had heard kindergarten teachers complain for years about parents doing their kids' projects for them so when Reid started school, I vowed to make him do everything himself. His first project was on his favorite Famous American. I made him write every word (misspelled!) and draw pictures of Davy Crockett and his log cabin and the Alamo. We too had the parade of posters. And my son's was the only one that was handwritten, not generated with cute fonts and bright colors and as he pointed out in disgust, REAL pictures. He said with an accusing look, "The other moms cared enough to help." I was mortified because while you may feel that Jackson's poster revealed that like you cared TOO MUCH, it looked like I didn't care AT ALL. And I was a school employee, for crying out loud. Now, that was a walk of shame. :)

Happy said...

You poor thing! My son is a year away from preschool still so I'm going to store this in the back of my own head for future reference.

All I can say is that I empathisize in that I get embarrassed so easily and would be tempted to switch pre-schools.

Not that I'm saying you should because you should be so embarrassed, but that is just what I would want to do if it were me.

This hopefully didn't come out as an insult because that's so not how I meant it!

I am sending a prayer out that those pics are down soon!

The Clark Clan! said...

When my daughter started 2nd grade we had gotten a letter from her teacher with her back to school supply list and a request to bring in something that represented what we had done over the summer. We (I) made a beautiful scrapbook full of wonderful pictures from our summer. Only 3 other children brought in something. One child brought in a shell, another a photo and the 3rd child brought in a stuffed animal. I did not know if I should be embarrassed or sad for the other kids that did not bring in anything.
We homeschool now.
: )
I think it is a great story now and thank you for sharing it with us. You are an awesome mom.

truth4nothing said...

We all did it-

I made an entire Aztec temple out of sugar cubes for my son when he was in FIFTH GRADE>>> I never could quit over meddling in homework art projects of any kind. Too crafty, too too crafty!

Luckily he dropped the whole thing in the parking lot and obliterated it. His teacher said it looked like he didn't even try and gave him a C.

What was the lesson there? Still don't know.

Ben and Kristen said...

Thanks for the heads up. We start preschool next week and I could have been next!

Fourburks said...

You learned a valuable lesson, but the blessing is you learned it early enough Jackson was oblivious to the process!! Now you can approach future "home projects" throughout their childhood with the insight you gained today and make sure you impart the life lesson you want them to learn as well!! Hey, we all have been there. Parental mistakes are inevitable, we are not perfect. But we have a chance to learn and improve each time!!!

The Drake's said...

Okay, I'm not even sure I know you; however, I am laughing at you! This is hilarious...I found your blog from Melanie Croziers blog. TOTALLY sounds like something I would do when I'm a mother. Thanks for the laugh!

Big Mama said...

I am so sorry that I set a bad example for you. I'm going to blame it on the fact that Caroline went to preschool with children who suffer from having overachievers for mothers.

Or maybe it's just the fiesta float that brought out the worst in all of us.

Leslie said...

Oh I do feel your pain. I remember when my kids were in public school and something like that was assigned-- I never knew how much to contribute.

Now they are homeschooled, so problem-solved LOL!

Leslie

Heather said...

Oh my! I'm laughing, but only b/c that is so something I would do!! I'm sorry you had to learn that lesson in such a "public" way! Praying the teacher has another project to display VERY soon! :)

Kodi said...

OH my goodness that is TOO funny! I have not yet had this experience, but I have to say I would probably have been just like you!

Tara G. said...

I say, make another and distract the teachers while you switch out the posters. :) Maybe the teachers learned a lesson- give clearer directions!

Amanda said...

Y'all, I feel so much better already! Thanks for laughing with me about this and letting me laugh with you about your stories. I was cracking up the whole time I was reading them.

Becky said...

Oh sweet dear! Don't be upset. You never know with these things what they want. Trust me this is just the first of many...

Kim said...

I can so relate.

In fact, I have been made fun of before by other parents for my OCD tendancies.

Don't they know this is an illness? I can't help it. ;)

HisTreasuredPossession said...

priceless!

I'd probably have done the same thing, but it wouldn't have looked nearly as good.

Praying your 'request' is answered SOON!!
~rachel

Chris said...

You NEVER know! Sometimes they want the parent to do it, sometimes just kids. I always do it "with" my child. I'm surprised you were the only one.... You need to make friends with the moms in his class so you can trade notes and ideas next time. :) Cute poster, by the way.

Traci said...

First, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I've been blocked for days. Your post made me laugh and inspired me, so I tracked back to you in my post tonight.

Second, TRUST ME ON THIS, doing a poster for Jackson won't be the last embarassing thing you do before this whole parenting thing is over.

Just laugh it off- but beware, as a teacher I must tell you, you're on the list now- they know you're creative and willing- you are going to get calls to help with bulleting boards and class parties before this is over! :)

Kendra said...

Well, my daughter is only two...but being a teacher and knowing what will be expected, I'm ashamed to say that I will probably learn nothing from your horror story (and my own prior knowledge) when the time comes around for Hallie to do her little craft. Sigh. I, too, am too much of a perfectionist/crafty/it-has-to-be-my-way person. But I still have a few years, so God could surely change me by then. ;o)

Kendra said...

And by the way, cutie-patootie's family poster is adorable. :o)

Sara said...

Hey Amanda,

The poster is fantastic! If it really bothers you I suppose you could have Jackson redo it with less of your help but I think your project was perfect. :D

Hey, How's Geli feeling?

Profbaugh said...

Okay, Amanda, I'm with your Mom on this one. You totally made me smile. . . probably because I have done the same thing in my day. Ah, the memories. You will, I guarantee you, laugh as you retell this one day!!

Much love,
~Cheryl

Darlene R. said...

I am so with you on this! I totally did my first son's "All About Me" poster in Kindergarten! I just might have to send you a picture of it...it'll make you feel much better! ;)

Now that he's in 7th grade...I don't want anything to do with his homework. I help him, but I never promise a correct answer. :)It's up to him to figure out if it's right or not!

Teri~Facedown said...

I had a situation when my oldest son was in 4th grade--every year the 4th graders make a "wood project"--well when the instructions came all they said was that the CHILD needed to make something out of natural wood and that they could decorate it with leaves and moss and stuff from outside. Well, I let my son do his own project. He made a boat type looking thing and used bark and leaves and twigs. It was very humble. The wood projects are all lined up on tables in the hallways for a week leading up to conferences and on conference night all the parents oooh and ahh over all of the(ir) wood projects. I was so embarrassed for him when I saw all of the other wood projects. There were little log cabins, wood stools, benches, chairs, even a beautiful light house made with twigs and acorns-complete with a road paved with flat shiny pebbles. And then there was his boat-ish.
This year my second son (his name is Jackson too!) had to make his wood project--let me tell you, his was awesome! It was a miniature tree fort assembled atop a branch of a real tree that we screwed to a piece of particle board. I made a ladder of sticks with rope as the rungs. My daughter uses it as a tree fort for her Polly Pockets!
Anyway--I totally went overboard--and all for the wrong reasons. Both boys received full credit for their projects--my oldest son is a little bitter though! ;)

Tara D. said...

Oh Amanda...been there, done that. But, you know what I was thinking? Why not make another poster and let Jackson do the whole thing? Just take it into school tomorrow and ask the teacher to replace the old with the new.

Sandy said...

When I was in second grade, I remember my excitement over the poster contest for the school library. When I went home to tell my mom about it, *she* apparently got a little too excited and did the poster herself! (I think she may have let me color a small portion.) Needless to say, I did not win the contest. She also did my 4th grade Alabama notebook almost completely by herself, but I didn't mind that so much:-).

Anyway, I've tried not to repeat those experiences with my own five kids, but it's just HARD to find the right balance! My kids compete in 4-H speaking and demonstration competitions, and you can always tell the poor kids who didn't get any help from their parents-- they really struggle, and their demonstrations look pretty sad. But there's a balance. I determined that I would help my kids learn what a job well-done looks like and sounds like, but they are always right there with me, researching, brainstorming new ideas, cutting out letters for posters, etc, and of course, they're the ones that have to actually stand up and do the presentation. Although I've stressed over whether I've helped too much, I think overall I hit the right balance. I try to decrease the amount of help I give as they get older, and now my high schoolers can put a good project or presentation together by themselves. It's a journey, and unfortunately, I don't think it gets much easier. Maybe when they go to college??

Heather said...

Just wait till they get in school, you'll be doing their homework, just like Travis said! ;) Half the stuff they send home, I sit there and think, I already graduated, can this be something on their level they can actually do. Oh well, it's good bonding time! I love the poster and no doubt yours is the prettiest!! I am just bad about returning papers and forms to the school on time! oh man, sorry for writing this novel, it's late and I am going on little sleep!

Deanna said...

Personally, I wouldn't trust any mother who said she'd never walked in those shoes before!

There will be many more projects that you will almost literally have to slap your own hands to restrain yourself. Your son will have teachers over the years who just don't understand that boys often don't have the same creative eye for things that the girls in the class do and you'll probably bail him out by staying up all night to "finish" the geneology chart for him....I got a B+ by the way!!!!

Honestly, I think there are times that as mothers, we need to step in for various legitimate reasons. But I too have struggled over the years to not make it MY project.

I think it goes to your intent...your intent was not to make your kid look better than everyone elses. So don't beat yourself up over it. Truth is by the end of the school year you will probably be the only one who remembers it.

Kim said...

We start working on ours this weekend...Noah's first day of school is Tuesday. Thanks for sharing this story, I've been debating how much creative licence to give Noah:)
My guess, all those other kids are 2nd born and the mom's already stood where you are once before.

And for my story, last year the teacher had to tell me to leave on the first day. I just stood there, not just what to do seeing as I had never left my kids with anyone other than family before. I actually said, "so I just go?" And she gave me this look like, "that is what this preschool thing is all about" and smiled while nodding yes. I walked out of the room crying and stood at the door and watched through the window for a minute or two. Looking back, I am more embarrassed now that I was then!!

Katie said...

That is funny. I'm sure you know that Mommy Guilt is something that starts from the very moment your baby is born. That first time you do anything remotely for yourself over your child whether it is the first time you let them "cry it out" or use a TV to babysit just so you can pee by yourself.

Your current situation, albeit rather public, is proof your are just like every other mommy. That whole, mommies judging mommies thing is why I've never joined the February message boards on Babycenter.com. I judge myself enough thank you for much. ;)

Patty said...

Oh Amanda,
The answer is a big fat YES. ;)

My oldest son was in preschool and his class had to do something along the same lines and I did the same thing. I am pretty sure I did not let him pick out the pictures and that puts you ahead of me. lol

Seriously, I was pathetic. lol I did learn my lesson when my second son was in preschool. They were learning about Johnny Appleseed that week. He had to draw a picture of Johnny Appleseed and take it back to school the next day. I was determined to let him draw this by himself.
Self-control did take over(thank you Jesus) and I left him alone to draw his picture. He drew Johnny sitting under an apple tree. He had clouds above the apple tree with a pair of hands coming out of the clouds.

The next day the teacher asked him what the hands were about. Jason told her they were God's hands protecting Johnny. The teacher called me and told me what he told her and she was so proud of him.
I was humbled and thankful that I had left my second child alone. SO, we learn our lessons and you are a great mom. :)
Love you,
Patty

Lauren said...

Oh my goodness, WHO WOULD KNOW?! Seriously.

mustard seeds said...

Just remember there are no right or wrong ways to help your child with his banner. Was he proud of it? I bet he was. That's all that matters.
Sheila

Rachel said...

Oh this made me laugh. I remember my oldest son's first kindergarten project. We had to make a family tree. I let him color a few things and I did the rest. It was at that point that I realized I truly hated school projects and they really are just for the parents to do. I am not at all an artistic or creative person. As a teacher I always secretly liked the ones that parents "helped" with, they made the room so much prettier. Anyway, after the second family monthly craft project I informed the teacher that from now on I will be paying someone else to do my son's projects because they caused me such stress and anguish. I also used the fact that I was very pregnant with my third child to get out of it. It worked and I also noticed that the other parents got tired of the projects and quit doing them. As I later found out we had a completely overzealous and artistic kindergarten teacher.

Anyway don't feel too bad. It looked great and the most important part was that you spent time working on it with your son.

Kelly said...

Parenting is humbling, and the lessons never end.
Love your humble heart that allowed you to share this story.

Nicole said...

Ok...so the first emotion I had was embarrassment too! The kind where my stomach fell when I read the part of it being displayed OUTSIDE the classroom! How did I conjure up that feeling so quickly you ask?? Because I have done the same thing...and more than on one occasion! Like how about last year when I sent my 4th grade son ( YES 4th grade!!) with a camo covered Valentine "mail-box" with hearts and scripture when the other kids had brown paper bags to collect their Valentines. Or when I 'helped" my 5th grader do a poster LAST YEAR and bought expensive glitter words and all kinds of other crazy paraphernalia only to find it sitting on the floor in the corner when I came to pick her up. On the floor!! I was crushed.

So maybe we can blame it on the whole first born thing?? Whatever it is...I hope you learn faster than me. :) I wish I could say I am recovering, I really am going to try and contain myself this year!!

Sitesx6 said...

Oh dear!

Thanks for adding yet another reason to my list of "why I homeschool" :) I don't have to worry about making a dork of myself, no one will know BUT ME....

So sorry. Your heart was in the right place. You will be able to face the teacher again soon. :0

amykat said...

Amanda - you just answered the question that has been lingering in my mind since I picked up my 3 year old from preschool yesterday! We were given a similar assignment, and my immediate question was whether I should do this....or if it should be Luke's own "guided" project. The completed poster is supposed to go on his cubby, so I had already planned a cutesy representation of his family.
I laughed with you as I read about your embarrassment....but I am thankful (sorry!) that you helped me make my decision! :)

Lis said...

Amanda, the project was perfect! Don't be ashamed not one bit, Jackson helped you and I am sure HE was very proud.

I have two daughters and many many projects behind us. Oldest child always wanted help and wanted everything to be the BEST! Youngest wanted to do it all herself, many times to my disapproval. (hoping the teacher didn't think I did the project).. Ha Ha.

Now oldest is 22 and yes she has asked me to drive 3 1/2 hours to her college to help her with a project, and yes I did go.. Smiling all the way.

Youngest is now 16, taking a college level art course and wouldn't let anything go out of the house that was not PERFECT.

So, there ya go.. Life goes on and no one remembers but YOU!

Love You, have a wonderful day today!

ThirtysomethingMom said...

Amanda,
When my daughter went to preschool, she was given a task very much like yours. We were supposed to use Poster board. Well, that wasn't good enough for my baby. I needed premium foam board to hold my child's pictures. When I went to get my Grace, everyone's posters were hung up, but Foam Board doesn't hang(too heavy)...so hers was leaning up against the wall in a corner. I, too, was very embarrassed.

She is ten now and I finally threw the board out a year ago!!!

Thanks for sharing!!!
Just FYI...This project is just the first of many you will help him do. I've helped with Shadow boxes, created a Creek Indian Village, etc. I'm getting better at "letting" her be creative!

Have a great day!!
Mary

tiggerdaisy said...

Sweet Amanda,

Don't be ashamed of what you did. You are a caring mother who wanted the best for her son. You followed directions and the project looks GREAT! :)

I am like you in many ways and I believe I will be struggling with the same issues when my baby girl who turns two tomorrow goes to preschool! Thanks for the lesson--let's hope I remember it! hehe

Prayers and blessings,
Rebecca

Growing in the Son said...

Look at it from the flip side. Maybe the other parents are looking at yours saying I didn't know we could make one as fabulous as that! ;-)

Next time you'll see many, many more looking like yours. Trust me you will. (((hugs)))

barbara head said...

Oh, Amanda, I simply adore hearing from you on your "kid escapades". You are a breath of fresh air. I'm to the point in my life that I can't remember all the neat things I went through with my kids. It's hard enough remembering the grandkids. So keep on "mothering" like all the rest of us and I will continue to smile! I love you, sweet thang!!!!

Gabby said...

Pretend you left something in his room, go back when everyone has left the church. Replace the poster with one that he does with handprints, etc. Sneak out.
You should not bear the shame one minute longer...

MITZI said...

Every parent gets a "little involved" with their child's projects. It's knowing when to hold back and let them take over.

You get A+ on your project. :) Keep the poster and every time you want to "take over" just look at it as a reminder.

Kristen said...

I am cracking up! It might make you feel better to know I would have probably done the exact same thing. It's just too easy to get carried away with a fun art project! Hold your head up, friend, it looks fabulous!

The Henrie Family said...

I'll keep it brief since you have so many to read. You had me laughing because this happened to me this week! We got our first at home project to deocrate a paper doll to look like her...Technically she did it but honestly I told her how to do EVERYTHING!

connorcolesmom said...

LOL
I am totally guilty of the same thing
Connor's first kindergarten project was to make a Dinosaur diorama - I bought plastic dinosaur and made a volcano, river and land formations out of play dough but I did let Connor put the fake grass inside :)
I get totally stressed out with projects and it is just easier to do it myself :)
It will make a great story one day for sure!
Much love
Kim

Shan said...

I'm so glad that I'm not the only mom who can't stand to let her kids just "do the project"! When my youngest was in 1st grade, they had a similar project--an "all about me" poster that would be displayed in the room for a week. I wanted to let my child make the poster, but all I could see was how it could be made better if I just tweaked it a bit... Suffice it to say, other than picking some of the pictures and gluing them down exactly where I instructed, the poster was really more about ME and my perfectionistic OCD needs than anything else... I don't know if this helps, but I am finding it a bit easier to let go and make (LET) them do their own school projects as they get older and gain a little more finesse of their own!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Ah, honey. Total rookie mom mistake. There will be many more, but by the time Annabeth is in school, you'll be an old pro.

Remember it's not just pre-school for Jackson, it's pre-school for you, too!!

Rachel said...

Amanda, I think you're awesome! :) And thanks for the laugh.

Rebecca said...

I had the opposite happen. My child came home with a project similar to that one and I - being a former teacher who hated when Mama did the homework and not the child - let him do all the work with a little help from me. When I got to preschool to drop him off it was clear that all the other Mommies had done the project with a little help from their child. Noah's looked awful next to their masterpieces!

So see - it could've gone either way. :)

Alana said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one!!!! We had to decorate a little house for Mac's day school and I put my scrapbooking skills to work...Everyone else slapped a few pictures up there and mine was all but bedazzled...I felt so silly

Cheryl said...

Haha! That's funny. (sorry) If it helps you to feel any better, please know my oldest son was "The Biter".

Cheryl
www.crispy-not-crunchy.blogspot.com

courtney said...

Thanks for the warning...it shall be heeded!

Misty said...

Oh I sooooo feel your pain! I will never forget during my son's Kindergarten year when they had thier "Spirit Week". One day was "Crazy Hat Day" and I took a old plastic Folgers coffee container and decorated with all kinds of sprts related things. I actually had cut-outs of different balls sticking off the top of the "hat" with pipe cleaners!! You can imagine how mortified I was when I pulled up to the carpool line and NO other children had on anything like that. Most just had baseball caps or a birthday hat. It was just horrible. I know his kindergarten teacher must have thought I was completely insane!

And I ALWAYS fight the battle of how much do I do, and how much do I let him do and he's in the 5th grade!! Mmmmmm, motherhood!!!

annalee said...

NOOOOOO! say it isn't so!
when you mentioned this to me the other day, i didn't dream his would be the only one done so professionally:) i worked at a preschool for 5 years and every fall they handed out this same assignment and ALL the parents did the posters the way you did. i thought for sure you erred on the right side. i'm so sorry we didn't have a kid in the same class so there would have been at least two done the same way. i so would have been right there with you!

The B's said...

Girl...I do that for Emma too!!! But nothing has been hung on the wall for everyone to see. I've made a note but I don't know if I'll abide by it b/c I don't want to be the one that didn't make it pretty when the other ones did...I think I would do the same as you.

Praying those posters come down soon! :)

Joy Caldwell said...

Oh man, been there-done that. One time Isaiah said ,"could I please do it mommy!" lol. You just truly want them to have the best one in the room. : ) Yes, science fair projects, posters, project reports, etc.... I have gotten where I despise them because I am tempted every time! Also, in a private school setting, I find they ask so much of the child that they have to know that the parent is going to have to help! Love you! I would give you triple stars for that poster! : )

Michelle said...

What a sweet mother you are! There is so much of motherhood that clashes with our own agenda or expectations. All the "When I am a mother, I will never..." get thrown out the window once you actually have a child of your own. How would you know about projects when you've never had any to do before? Please don't be too hard on yourself.
I have 4 children, and I do not believe in doing their homework for them...but then again, my kids never had homework at 3 yrs old, so who knows what I would have done. I believe it's good for them to show their own creativity and express themselves how they need to, even when it clashes with "Mom's" ideals. OH, how I have been embarressed by this concept...letting them go to school with the poster how they decorated it themselves...and seen that other kid's obviously had more parental help than mine did. Sigh. The embarressment goes both ways. We all can hopefully look back and laugh, in a "how was I supposed to know?" sort of way. Blessings to you today!

Charity said...

I SOOO feel your pain right now... In Kindergarten we had to do a Me poster for Madeline (who's now 8) and a) kinda forgot until the night before and b) I'm the ocd mom... but I did most of it but the 'trick' was to let her glitter around it and then it looked more preschool... I realize that that's not really the appropriate way or the correct lesson to learn BUT it was all my ocd heart could handle...

I also have a very hard time letting the kids help wrap Christmas presents... which is pretty lame but the truth...

Deirdre said...

I just had my first pre-pre-prek orientation with Ginny yesterday. they has a craft for teh kids to do with their parents during the orientation.

STRESS!
My baby has held a crayon, but always wants to put it in her mouth. She has never seen glues sticks before, and has never been given the opportunity to eat tiny little pieces of colored paper either.
They wanted these ONE YEAR OLDS to put glue stick to paper and stick colored bits of tissue paper all over a drawing of a fish.

um....
how do you help a ONE YEAR OLD do this? put the glue on the paper and wait for an entire ice age while they figure out where you want them to put the tiny piece of colored tissue? oooops no honey, don't eat it. Her have another one...no don't eat that.

Or worse yet, put the glue on the tiny piece of tissue paper and hand it to her?
Nope that didn't work either.

*sigh* The only pieces of tissue that ended up glued to my Ginny's fish were the ones that I put there in an effort to show her what was expected of her. Here honey, watch. See mama is putting the paper pieces here...Ginny look....down here, on the paper...*sigh*

I was completely stressed out by the experience. Ginny on the other hand seems unharmed. So that's good.

Mommy Dot Com said...

I would be proud of that poster. If I started dishing out things for my children that may be a little "too perfect" then I think I would faint dead away. I'm usually on the other side, wishing I had done more. I guess as moms we'll just have to learn to be content in plenty and in want!

Shan and the J's said...

Can I just say...I am so thankful I am not alone in this world? I am terribly OCD and FEAR what I am doing to my children as I take over every project to make sure it is just right!! I'm trying and learning...you will too!! ;-)

Cheri-Beri said...

We all have to learn to let go. And it's never painless. At least you're learning this lesson now and not when he's 13!!!

thegypsymama said...

Ouch. Haha. and Ouch. I have a Jackson as well and he also just started at Preschool..be still my aching heart!

~Jodi~ said...

Amanda,
This really made me smile! Girl you are wayy too hard on yourself! I am a preschool teacher and I Just did something really similar this week with my class. They come back in various ways and none is "right" or "wrong". But I have to say that what you did looks awesome !
My kids had so much fun this week spending time looking at the book I made out of the pages they brought especially the ones that had alot of pictures and could tell stories about them to one another.
All I'm trying to say is if he was in my class I'd be saying great job:)
BTW I've done this project for the past 7 years and seen various stages of things coming back. I guess what I'm trying to say is that putting that much effort and time into it is not a bad thing and neither is keeping it simple either. I have to be careful with how I type this but honestly it's nice to see someone not just brush it off! You are an awesome mom! don't be to hard on yourself :) Just smile at those cool pics and let Jackson be proud of how great it looks!
freeinhisgrace@hotmail.com

Kelli said...

Um I had to send a little something like that for Caroline. I started to pull all the scrap book supplies, etc. and Chris kindly reminded me that wasn't what they asked us to do! Don't worry I think I will constantly struggle with being the one to "create" their art work!

Thanks for sharing so that I know I wasn't the only one!!

kari said...

hey girl. so fun. i laughed out loud at your story. you should go back and take a pic of the other kids pics and put them on your blog. that would be hilarious.

i know though- it's so hard not to touch their work! the only thing that pulls me back from "fixing" Titus's puzzles or making him put his pig nose on the FACE of the pig is this phrase i heard in college in Early Childhood class- "It's about the process, not the product." The phrase RINGS in my ears, then i slowly (and sometimes painfully) try and remove my hand, admire the pig nose on the pig's butt and smile!

Just think, Annabeth will get to have the Scribbly-hand-print picture! Our first kids are there to practice on. Our mom's practiced on us too, and we turned out all right :). love you! k

katiegfromtennessee said...

Aww, Little Momma, it's ok:) You make me smile!:) Thanks for the pointers, see, you're sharing the wisdom already:):)

katiegfromtennessee

melanie said...

a few things: i would totally do something like that too. it's always better to over-acheive than under-acheive, especially when it comes to the kids. and if it were for a grade, you would totally get a A+. it is really cute! you gave me a great laugh, so thanks!!!

Heather said...

Amanda,
YOU ARE SOOO NOT ALONE!!!! We have all done this, and as a mother of three, I can assure you I'll do it again. Sometimes it's out of convenience, sometimes it's lack of time. Sometimes it's just less messy if Mama does it!! Don't beat yourself up over it. Jackson's poster is absolutely precious, and the truth is, most three year olds aren't ready for a major art project anyway. The school projects only get bigger and more complicated as they get older, so go easy on yourself. Jackson will be grateful for a sweet Mommy who is willing to help when he's doing science fair projects in sixth grade!

Allison said...

I just laughed so hard I cried. I love the poster and totally would have been right there with you in the overdone and embarassed camp! To bad they're not in the same class so we could call each other and decide how to proceede with art projects...kind of like you do with friends when you are not quite sure what "dressy casual" on a party invitation means!

Totally Desperate Mom said...

Okay so let's hang out. Together we will make beautiful-ish posters. Now this was not for "school" but my son wanted to make a poster for his birthday party (to hang on the front door). His birthday is in January. I "helped" him with the outline of the jersey and he did the rest. See for yourself. Maybe you and I could provide some balance to one another...
http://tiny.cc/3pyNs