Last weekend, I went over to help my niece with her history paper. Not that I'm some kind of expert in world history. It's more like she called me on the verge of hysterics, saying that "Dad won't help me! I need somebody to look over my outline and my thesis statement and help me figure out how to put all my resources together! Please, please, please say you'll help me!" Of course, I had no choice.
I figured I'd be there for an hour or two, proof reading and giving out little hints here and there to tweak the final product. Then I saw the beginning product:
"Nationalism was a major contributing factor to World War I because nationalistic nations focused more on nationalism than on peace."
This was going to take more than an hour or two.
I learned a lot this weekend. First off, the definition of nationalism. Secondly, how to get a 13 year old girl to define nationalism without using the actual word nationalism. Mostly, though, I learned that I am much stricter than my brother and sister and law.
Thank goodness I don't have kids of my own. They would hate me and probably would not be on speaking terms with me. Because I am strict.
Right off the bat, I took away the 13 year old's phone. When she started howling that "I've been doing this for two hours!" I contradicted her, saying that though she may have been sitting in front of the computer for two hours, she was, in fact, texting and sending snap-jacks to her friends, not working. "You would have been done by now if you were, in fact, working." Then I took the phone and wouldn't let her have it back for the rest of the afternoon.
I can see my hypothetical children storming off and slamming the doors to their hypothetical rooms now.
Then, I made her start the whole paper over from the beginning, starting with the definition of nationalism. Then, when it became clear that she didn't really understand what a thesis statement was, I made her re-do her thesis statement assignment from two weeks ago. And then, made her re-do her outline, since she failed to include the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in her "causes of the war" section.
Man, I am strict! Figment and Mirage are packing their ghostly possessions and running away!
Anyway, four and a half phone less hours later, we had a decent paper to turn in and she had a better understanding of how to write one. And even though my pretend children are as good living on the pretend streets, addicted to pretend crystal meth, the real kids in my life know they have an aunt who won't let them take the easy way out.
The real kids know there will always be somebody who pushes them to do their best.