Last night was the first of five Back-to-School nights, this one for Aiden's school. I am thoroughly impressed with his magnet school program and his teachers, and they had glowing things to say about him. But I went there with one silly little question that I just had to have answered.
You see, since the first day of school Aiden and I have been at odds, even in a downright battle of wills over the information he was telling me regarding his homework. Each day, besides his other worksheets and assignments, he would bring home his math textbook and a paper that already had many math problems done on it, and I would say something like, "Oh, is that your math homework?" and he would say, "No, it's not homework. I just offered to do it."
"What? Nobody offers to do more math problems. What do you mean?"
And he would explain that the teacher tells them to work on a certain page and then you don't have to finish it but he always offers to bring it home to finish it. And it's not being graded and it isn't homework.
"That makes no sense to me, Aiden. Either the teacher wants you to do it, or she doesn't. I've gone to school for many years and teachers don't just say 'just do as many math problems as you feel like, but you don't have to finish'."
And he would say, "Well, that's what she said, Mom."
And I would get mad. Mad! (stupid, I know) But it didn't make sense to me. So, I would go on (and this was an ongoing conversation over days), as if it was some police interrogation and I was trying to break the suspect and catch him in some new information that slipped out.) I would ask what the incentive was to do any work at all if everyone knows you don't have to finish, for heaven's sake. Why not just do one problem very slowly and be done with it?
He would even get out his book in the mornings before school and work on more math problems, and I would say, "Aiden, you are supposed to get your homework done before bed, not in the morning." To which he would frustratingly reply, "It isn't homework, Mom. I just offered to do it."
"Why?! I don't understand!"
And his answer? "Because I'm a completing kind of boy."
A 'completing kind of boy?' What does that mean? I threatened to talk to his teacher, and I almost did a few days ago when I walked him to school, but then a school aide approached me and told me that parents were banned from the play yard before school. (What? Don't mess with me, lady.)
So, I waited last night for the crowds to disperse and then I approached Aiden's teacher. I explained the situation and how I didn't understand what was going on and whether or not it really was homework, and how Aiden just says he's a 'completing kind of boy', and she laughed and said. . ."yep, that's the truth."
Stunned. What? But I've been so hard on him! Accusatory even.
She said she only requires up to a certain number to be done, a number that can be easily finished by all of the kids during class time, but that it just really bugs Aiden to leave all those other problems unfinished on the page, so he asks if he can take it home and just complete them all. She said, "So, what am I supposed to do? Tell him 'no'?" Another laugh. "He just really likes math!"
"And you really don't even grade him on those extra problems?"
"So, he really is just a 'completing kind of boy'?"
"He really is."
Thank goodness one of my strengths in motherhood is apologizing to my children. As soon as Aiden got home from Cub Scouts, that's exactly what I did. "Aiden," I said, "I owe you the biggest apology." And I explained the whole thing and he said, "That's okay, Mom. I could tell you were really frustrated that you didn't understand. I just didn't know how to make you understand."
Well, duh. I should have just listened to him! I know him well. And he is a completing kind of boy.
Or, the unfinished problems on his math page trigger the OCD that he inherited from me. Oops.