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A mind of her own

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Probably one of the most frustrating things for a parent is to watch her child go through the same experiences she did. You feel kind of foolish, seeing what the arrogance of your own youth must have looked like to observers; and you feel angry that, no matter how many cautionary tales you’ve made of your own life story, your child simply insists on burning to learn. I more or less squandered my secondary schooling—as my former teachers would attest. I still remember Kathleen Nelson, my then English teacher, scolding me about hiding my light under a bushel, drumming the parable of the talents into my head while I steadfastly refused to show even a single iota of interest in the literature books we were doing that term. I would not do homework, I barely did required reading, and in class I was more likely to be writing a poem of my own than analysing the one set for me to study.


My mother, God rest her soul, often wished I would have a child just like me. Enter The Lady. (Thanks, Mom.) Seldom have I met an academically gifted child so wilfully indifferent to the formal education system. If I nag her daily, she manages to do about 40 per cent of her assignments and perhaps turn them in roughly on time. The rest are either ignored or forgotten at home for days—sometimes weeks—until I get complaining phone calls from the teachers. She has ever been like this. When she was several years younger, I took a parenting class called Love and Logic because I felt I had run out of options. Neither licks nor lectures nor loving encouragement had worked to inspire in her any kind of interest in school. A constant reader with a keenly analytical brain, The Lady is actually a very capable student when she cares to be. The problem is making her care.