Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: How do I raise a child to follow the rules when I am a born rebel?
My handwriting sucks. It always has. I would get straight A's as a kid except for penmanship, where I got D's. I couldn't stand anyone telling me what to do including, apparently, how a letter should look. My unarticulated thinking was "I will make an 'e' the way I want to make an 'e', OKAY?" The joke's on me of course, because today I write worse than a drunk doctor. If I could type thank you notes, I would. That doesn't mean my resistance to rules and conformity has changed any. But now I have a boy in kindergarten who is being given all kinds of rules to follow, not the least of which is how to properly write his letters. They give him this special paper with two solid lines and one broken line running between them. He's supposed to put all the spherical parts of the letters in the bottom half, the "bellies" as I call them, and then the other parts, the arms and legs, if you will, extend above. Almost every day after school, I watch as he breaks into a sweat trying to form his letters perfectly.
"Gabriel, it's fine," I tell him, as long as the "bellies" are facing the right direction.
"No it isn' t, MOM!" he'll yell. "I have to do it over, it has to be the right size," he insists, rubbing his eraser back and forth on the page.
"Whatever!" I want to say and roll my eyes like a surly teenager.
But I can't, because I'm in my forties now and I'm his mother.