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Rebel -- Using Penmanship as My Cause

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Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: How do I raise a child to follow the rules when I am a born rebel?

boy writing

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.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Uly January 26, 2009, 6:43 PM

I’ve taken to telling my older niece that she MUST NOT ERASE unless it’s clearly the product of distraction, because “it’s important that your teacher sees your mistakes”. Stupid, but it works. (Also spoke to her teacher about her frustration, and the woman has in turn confirmed for her what her parents and I have been saying all along, that it’s okay to make a few mistakes.)

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 9:51 PM

You should consider yourself lucky that he wants to do well and that he tries so hard! My son is also in kindergarten and has the same assignments. However, he is not concerned about being neat, his only concern is how quickly he can get it done so he can go play.

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