When they were younger, it was usually my fault if my kids went to school without the requested toilet roll innards, pyjamas, or donation for the poor. The teachers sent notes home, and then e-mails so there was no excuse. As the mother of smaller kids, it's expected that you maintain control of those things, even if you make them actually find the pyjamas, or put the toilet roll tubes in their school bags.
As they approach their teens, you start thinking that you're not really helping them if you do everything for them, but at the same time, they still seem so little and after all, they still need your help. It's a fine line knowing where and when to stop.
When they hit the teens, the s**t hits the fan. My thirteen year old spent the last year telling us we were treating him like a baby. To be fair, he had always seemed fairly organised, so we slackened the reins a little. What happened? He signed himself up for every club, sport and Lego Robotic event he could and forgot all about his homework. He started missing assignments (and obviously not telling us), until his main teacher called us to tell us. When we threatened to crack down he told us he could handle things, and didn't. Next year it's going to be different; every time he misses a homework assignment, an extra curricular activity comes off the schedule. He wasn't ready for the long length of rope we gave him so we're reeling him back in for a while. He's probably not going to be very happy, but I can't spend another year chasing him around to do homework.
And the older one? She has only two years till she goes off to college so I have to let go on the management front. The other day she started a five week photography course at a prestigious college here. She's using my Nikon 35mm camera, and she's never used an "old fashioned" camera before. Did she think to get it out of the bag beforehand? Hell, no! Two days before the course, we realised it needed new batteries, which we duly bought. While gathering her things up to head out for her course on her first morning, she decided to put the batteries in and discovered that it wassn't working. All hell broke loose, and a lot of it was me registering disbelief that all this had been left so late. You know the scene - I won't repeat what I said because it was the usual rant.
So I dropped her off leaving her to face the consequences of turning up for a 5 week photography course with a duff camera. I think I was more upset than her - unless she was in shock. She wasn't saying much. Driving back, I tried to decide whether I should phone round to see if we could borrow a similar camera from someone. Should I make her do this? When would she have time, she was in class till 5pm? Once again, on the horns of a dilemna.
And then she texted me to say she had put the batteries in the wrong way and the camera was fine. Oh happy day.
But do they ever learn from these events?