kitchen table math, the sequel: 3/29/15 - 4/5/15

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Helicopter parents of the world, unite!

Last night we all drove in to Manhattan for dinner at Debbie Stier's, where we finally met V. and her son R.

V. has been a frequent visitor to Kitchen Table Math, and has become a friend of Debbie's, so we were long overdue to meet in person.


There was a wonderful moment at the end of the evening that I'm posting because I think it will resonate with a lot of you.

V. had volunteered to drive us back to Westchester, sparking yet another a what-is-the-matter-with-us? momentWhy on Earth are we ferrying two autistic sons on the train, on the Shuttle, and on the subway when we could be driving instead? 

No common sense-y.

Anyway, V. had volunteered to drive us all home, and was out getting her car while the rest of us walked to the elevator.

Chris & R. were walking behind us, and Chris brought up something to do with whether or not R. was going to be spending the near future preparing for the SAT.

I heard R. say confidentially to Chris (my college-age son, for passers-by): "You saw my mom."

Meaning: "my mom is intensely on my case about everything to do with academic achievement, so the answer is 'yes.'"

He said this in a tone of .... was it pride?


I think it was both, and Chris obviously thought so, too, because he instantly tried to top R's story.

"I spent my whole childhood hiding from my mom because if she saw me she made me do math," he said. Then he repeated himself a couple of times for good measure.

He was defending my honor.

He'd done the same thing earlier in the evening when Ethan delivered a hilarious monologue about forcing his mother to "un-RSVP" him to an event he had no interest in attending and hadn't been consulted on before Debbie said 'yes' on his behalf. Ethan said he gets emails out of the blue telling him when he has to be somewhere his mother has decided he's going.

Chris said, "I never get emails like that."

"I never get emails telling me I'm going someplace I don't know about and don't want to go to."

Later on, I realized the boys were swapping war stories about their mothers. 

War stories and tall tales. My parents' generation told their kids stories about walking 5 miles to school. Apparently Chris & Ethan & R.'s generation, a certain segment of it, is going to tell their kids stories about their mother making them do math.

Why does no one ever seem to notice this aspect of helicopter parenting?

We hear that helicopter parents are terrible parents, destructive to their children and debilitating in every way.

From time to time we also hear a grudging concession that some helicopter parents seem to produce reasonably accomplished kids who are none the worse for wear.

But we never hear, at least I have never heard, that helicopter parents are fun.

We never hear that the family math wars and the SAT battles and the (occasional) shouting matches that are such a vivid part of life with a helicopter parent are moments their children are going to remember and cherish.

Remember, cherish, and tell their own children about.

If your child's curriculum is Google, this may be why

Google 'makes people think they are smarter than they are'

In a series of experiments, participants who had searched for information on the internet believed they were far more knowledgeable about a subject that those who had learned by normal routes, such as reading a book or talking to a tutor. Internet users also believed their brains were sharper.

"The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world's knowledge at your fingertips," said lead researcher Matthew Fisher, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.

"It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet."
It sometimes feels as if my entire district is now about SEARCH.

And not just SEARCH, but search ON THE INTERNET.

(That can't possibly be right, but that's the way it feels.)

Meanwhile actual books are all but disappearing. The high school kids still have textbooks, but a mom I know tells me that her daughter, who is a good student, never opens hers. She just lugs them back and forth from home to school and back.

Here's my latest intervention on the homefront re: technology: Families looking for technology detox