Volunteering in my daughter’s classroom has been a real eye opener for me. Second grade certainly isn’t what it used to be, and being in her class and observing her teacher working with the kids has given me new tools to use when I assist Emma with her homework.
It’s also given me real insight into who my child is.
I was confused when I noticed Emma never raised her hand in class to volunteer answers to the teacher’s questions. I knew that she understood the material, a point that was driven home by the fact Emma always answered correctly when her teacher called upon her.
But she never joined the chorus of kids waving their arms in the air, eager to show off what they knew, and to me, this made no sense. When I was her age, I always had my hand up, excited to be the first in the class. Was I missing something where Emma was concerned?
I finally asked her, trying to sound casual when I questioned why she never volunteered answers in her classroom. She scrunched up her face, as though it was a completely unpleasant concept.
“Because I don’t want to,” she said simply.
“But," I sputtered, convinced that there just had to be more to the story. “But don’t you want to show everyone you know the answer?”
Now, it was Emma’s turn to look confused. “No. Why do I need to do that?”
And finally, I shut up.
Somehow, I expected my daughter to be just like me, anxious to prove myself, letting insecurity play too much of a role in my life. How surprised I was to learn that this was not Emma’s reality — in fact, so confident was she in her abilities, she had no need to impress others. She was her own person, and most importantly, she made her own choices. I was beyond thrilled.
As she grows up, I imagine self doubt will creep in and out of Emma’s life, and I’ll do my best to help her navigate that rough terrain. But so far, she’s teaching me far more than I am her.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.