The latest in my homework from Eila’s teacher — yes, that’s right, my homework — is a full page sheet explaining the importance of teaching her to put on and take off her coat, scarf, mittens, boots, and snow pants — accompanied by a “Getting Dressed Task Card” that I can use as a teaching device. I’m supposed to be patient, work on zippers one week, snaps the next, that kind of thing.
The sheet explains (sternly, elegantly, and with only three or four grammatical slips) that “in our haste and desire to support the child, sometimes we do for our children what they are capable of doing on their own, and without meaning to, we are sending a message that they do not have to take this responsibility.” Aack! Always with the sending a message! Everything I do sends some sort of message! Larkin was right!
But I can’t help thinking that Mrs. M. lays it on a bit thick. It is perfectly obvious to me that if Eila can put on her own winter clothing, Mrs. M’s life gets easier. She has, after all, 17 little noses to wipe; must she also pull on 17 pairs of snowpants? But it is not quite as obvious that Eila receives a sinister message if I don’t do my homework. Does dressing her really make her a lazy spoiled brat? Does it groove her mind with privilege? Can’t I just wait until she pushes me off and says “out of my face, Mummy. I can handle it.”