preschool · slice of life · writing

Regrets: Heavy Lifting – #sol16

Head over to for more slices of life.
Head over to for more slices of life.

For the next 31 days (Well, really 32 since I always start a day before the Challenge and then write the entire month of March.) my posts will be devoted to the Slice of Life Story Challenge, a challenge I co-host with seven other educators over at Two Writing Teachers. Some of my posts will be about raising a literate human (aka: my daughter), while some will be about small moments from my life.

If you haven’t committed to writing daily, but want to, I hope you’ll join us for the 9th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. Click here for more details.

* * * * *

I have regrets about the way writing time went in my daughter’s classroom today. I did too much heavy lifting. Not physically, of course. I didn’t lift more than a pint-sized chair to move it across the room to the meeting area. I’m talking about the level of support I provided my child. I think I prompted her too much.

Like previous visits to Isabelle’s classroom, I started talking with her about my upcoming visit over breakfast. I asked her if she knew what she’d write about today. She came up with an idea that wasn’t really a story. (It went like this: “Allegra and I watched the Maccabeats together at synagogue.”) There was no beginning, middle, and end (or b-m-e). Therefore, I told her to think of something that had a true b-m-e. She wasn’t sure what to write about so I told her how I was going to teach the class about writing about people we know, places we go, and things we do. I also told her I’d be reading Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee to help her and her friends think about things they do.

Of course, in true preschooler fashion, she jumped on the idea of writing about a roller coaster, specifically about the time she went on LaffTrakk at Hersheypark. (She went on once with my husband and hated it. However, she still talks about it because she “didn’t cry” even though she was scared.) I thought that was a great idea so we rehearsed it several times while we ate breakfast. She was able to able to sequence the story, but needed help adding details (e.g., where she made the silly faces, how she was feeling, how the ride moved). However, she seemed to have a good handle on it so we cleared the breakfast dishes and got ready to head to her school.

Isabelle didn’t come over to the writing center right away. In fact, she came over and I was working with three of her peers so I asked her to come back when one of them got up. She complied. However, by the time she returned, there was only 15 minutes left. I had her rehearse her writing, touching each page, as she retold her story aloud. Just two-and-a-half hours after we had initially practiced, a lot of the details were missing. I asked her questions and nudged her to add more details. She retold the story orally across pages again. Good enough. She was ready to draw.

Once her pictures were finished, we labeled them together. Things were going well until it was time for her to tell her story aloud to me one final time. She wasn’t elaborating. There was nothing about the fun house mirror on the first page of the story.

Page 1

By the time we got to page two, I was feeling frustrated. All she said was “I went in the seats with Daddy.”

“Where were you?” I asked.

“Hersheypark,” she responded.

“But where?” I asked.

“The roller coaster,” she replied.

“Which one?” I asked. I really wanted her to name it.

Page 2

“LaffTrakk!” she said in an exasperated voice.

“How did it move?” I asked.

“Then it went backwards,” she added on.

“How did you feel?” I asked.

“Scared,” she replied.

I pressed her. “Can you say it in a sentence?”

“I was feeling surprised because it was faster than the video,” she replied.

“What was faster?” I asked, wanting her to say LaffTrakk.

Isabelle looked at me — annoyed — and turned to the third page of her story.

“I walked out,” she said.

“Where did you go? I asked, knowing exactly where she went.

“Out,” she replied.

I kept going. “But where?”

“I walked out to see Mommy.”

“How did you feel?” I inquired.

“That’s it.”

Page 3

I gave up. I felt frustrated she wouldn’t elaborate like she had during breakfast. And I found myself realizing I was becoming too invested in her story. She had said all she wanted to say. I wasn’t going to be able to pull any more out of her, nor should I.

But I am who I am. I said something more to her since I regretted doing too much of the heavy lifting today.

“Isabelle,” I paused and waited for eye contact. “I feel like I had to do a lot to get you to tell your story this week. I hope next week, when I come in, you’ll do more of the work. Okay?”


We shall see what next Monday brings…


14 thoughts on “Regrets: Heavy Lifting – #sol16

  1. Stacey, it is so hard to work with your own child! Trust me, I’ve been there and did a lot of heavy lifting myself when I know I shouldn’t have. We always want more. Isabelle is so lucky to have you to encourage her, and she is growing every day. Trust that she will get there. Looking forward to March SOL.

    1. Thanks for the reassurance, Rose.
      Today shocked me. I would never prod another person’s child as much as I did with my own. I’d like to think this will get easier, but I know it won’t!

  2. I agree with Rose. We don’t always get from our own what others might. They don’t always want us to tease out that learning from them the way they do with other adults. I think you got an awful lot done Stacey. Isabelle is learning more about story than you may think in the moment.

  3. Your slice reminds me of how I always wonder at people who have the patience to home school their kids. I knew I could not do it. Religious ed for one year was all I could manage. You and Isabelle will look back on these days with fondness (some day)!

  4. Do you think she thinks that she’s already told you the story? Maybe she could tell her story aloud to someone else, but within your earshot. That way she could think about her audience and include the details you know are there.

  5. We are who we are and we have to be ok with it and with each other. It’s especially hard with those we love so much.
    Love to you Stacey for all you do. The community you have created is a gift.
    Happy March!

  6. Although we are their first teachers, it can be so tough to teach our own children…especially when it comes to writing. One of my sons, bless his heart, was in my class for 5th and 7th grades! We survived; and when he discovered he enjoyed writing last year in 9th grade, I bit back my jealousy and decided to be thrilled that his freshman English teacher found the writer I knew was in there all along. You captured the frustration (and hope) perfectly!

  7. It feels especially hard to balance between being the teacher and the mom. I see change in what Isabelle is doing, and you are a big part of that, Stacey. Sometimes we do need to step back & say it’s okay. There is always the next time!

  8. I completely relate, Stacey! I think teacher/moms and teachers/dads always feel that pull of wanting to support their child to do well. It always messes with Lily’s mojo when I’m in her classroom — on so many levels! But overall, in the big picture I think our kids benefit from having us as a part in their school lives. : )

  9. I remember my mom trying to help me with math. She was great at it with everyone else, but me. I needed someone else. We were both too frustrated to learn together. Isabelle seems to be blooming.

    1. She has been making great strides. I guess I figure she can always do more.

      My father, who reads this blog (and will see this, most likely), is a brilliant mathematician too. He tried to help me and I was relentless with the way I battled him. (Sorry, Dad!) He even came in and taught my fifth graders a lesson one year.

      Hopefully I’ll have more success working with Isabelle than my Dad had doing math with me (though I doubt it).

  10. Some days we are more frustrated than the students! It’s always tough when it’s your own. Don’t worry, the story is great and I’m sure your daughter will talk about it again with you, when she wants to say more! I’m ready for March this year! I noticed that a lot of us are Slicing for the 3rd year. Thank you for continuing to support us in our writing adventures, Stacey, and all the Two Writing Teachers blog friends!

  11. You are such a great teacher, but I think that teaching your own child can be hard. You want them to do their best, to do what you know they can do, but sometimes it doesn’t work the way you intend for it to work. Your post was very reflective. Good luck next week!

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