Silly assignment, good lessons

It's great to be able to say, "I told you so!" to your kids every now and then - even if you know you should rise above being a scorekeeper.

The occasion was a pretty silly assignment - the kind that reformer E.D. Hirsch has made a reputation railing against. It had nothing to do with anything, at least as far as I could see.

But mine was not to question why. My daughter had to create a poster showing how a famous person got his or her water. (You think I'm kidding.) The best entries would be sent to the local water authority for judging.

As I struggled to keep my mouth shut, my daughter said she might borrow the idea that one boy had - but rejected - of working with Moses and the Red Sea. That at least provided a learning moment: If someone says they won't use an idea, I told her, they're almost guaranteed to use it. And anyway, Moses got rid of the water - he didn't qualify.

A visiting friend chimed in and suggested Ponce de Len, of fountain-of-youth fame. I thought that was a great idea. Harlan was skeptical. We assured her that her teachers would love it - especially if it was funny. She resisted. We cajoled. By 9 p.m., she relented - with dark projections of failure.

In the end, we all got lessons in drawing the wrong conclusions. Harlan saw her poster, with others, make the finals. The teacher panel, as we predicted, loved it. Harlan even reported that her teacher mentioned her poster repeatedly, chortling each time. Chalk up one for adult advice.

And for me? Well, in the end, we had fun and we learned something. Maybe the assignment wasn't so dumb, after all.

*E-mail newcomba@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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