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Parent help on school projects: where to draw the line
“You have to write about cannibalism!” I fume at Zenobia, my fifth grade daughter. “Your teacher, your classmates, everybody wants to hear about people eating people.”She’s constructing her big social studies report. Zenobia’s decision — all on her own — is to create a multimedia triptych on the Donner Party, the horror show where settlers get stuck in the Sierra snow, starve, and then snack on each other to survive. I am thrilled. My wife is the tutor in math, writing, science, piano, singing, Spanish… everything but history. That is Daddy’s domain.“Don’t tell me how to do it,” my stubborn angel pouts. “You can help just a tiny bit but don’t boss me around.”I know a distasteful amount about this historical event, and I am determined to share that knowledge with my daughter.And I’m sure that at this very moment, most of the dads in my daughter’s class are crafting their child’s project into an A+. At last month’s science fair, my daughter entered a genius display of electricity in citrus fruit. I thought it was a sure-fire Alameda County winner, but no trophy came home. No blue ribbon, no scholarship to MIT. Our daughter’s project was totally overlooked, and out-done, frankly, by exhibits that look suspiciously like they were created by Tiger Dads who pulled all-nighters in an engineering lab to help their spawn win.