As our family struggles and strives to get on board with the whole middle school thing, we enlisted my dad to help. After Sunday mass we get together for our traditional extended family meal. Last week, we had lunch at our house. My dad always asks how he can help while I cook. An inspiration from the Holy Spirit prompted me to respond, “Please, help Ian study for his science test”. The content was right up my dad’s alley…water purification, water treatment plants, the aquaphor. On the eccentric side, my dad is a man who for fun researches issues like ground water patterns, Ark City River navigation, etc., and presents proposals to city, state, and government officials on ways to improve current systems. The bonding between Grandpa and grandson filled our family room.
So this Sunday, without hesitation, I again asked my dad to help Ian study. This time they tackled literature. Getting a bird’s eye view of the curriculum and high academic expectations, my PhD- educated dad quickly empathized with us on the academically challenging material. Despite excellent education backgrounds, the fact Ian was learning things in 6th grade we did not cover until high school or beyond have amazed my husband and me.
My dad even got a first row seat to the frustrating exchange between my son and me. His literature teacher had recommended we use flash cards to help him improve his performance on tests. After learning of this recommendation Ian’s resource center teacher at the last minute on Friday afternoon prepared two envelopes full of flash cards for him to use for the upcoming literature test. She hand delivered them as we drove out of the street in front on the school. Beginning to study the first set with Papa Don, I asked Ian where the other envelope was. After five to seven minutes of arguing and excuse-making and claims he doesn’t need to study them because the test was over, we located the second set of flashcards. The interaction, like many previous, drained me.
Including my dad into our everyday life made him not just feel like a guest in our home but an integrated family member. I can tell he likes being of service and connecting with the kids in a more involved way. But my dad helped us in more ways than just helping with homework. I provided a generational perspective to the challenges with our son.
Tune in next time to the elephant in the living room my Dad helped us see.
The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Give dignity to family, particularly those of another generation, by inviting them to be a resource in your life.