I have a thirteen year old daughter.
Correction. I actually have a thousand year old daughter in a thirteen year old body.
Yes, she's frighteningly responsible, awe-inspiringly hard-working and quite terrifyingly driven. Oh, and before anyone thinks she's perfect; no – she has a tongue like a viper and her stress levels are worrying to all who love her. (We're working on this – so don't you worry too.)
So when she kept putting off her RE project homework, there was obviously a problem – because this is the child who normally comes in from school and starts her homework straight away. The homework she has not already been able to do on the bus that is.
But I hadn't really picked up on the issue until Thursday night when she had an emotional meltdown – the kind actually appropriate to a thirteen year old - with weeping, wailing - but not actual gnashing of teeth because of her braces.
The problem was that she had been asked to research a different religion from her own (no problem there. She's good at that) and then to show that research not in an essay, not in a power-point presentation but in a colourful poster. She could write a 2000 word essay, she's a born speaker and presenter, but a poster? Art and Design? Panic!
Because my daughter believes firmly that she is not creative. So she was totally stuck and paralysed by this challenge.
"Silly girl!" I said fondly (inwardly rejoicing that for once I could actually be the adult around her because normally it's the other way round). Who in this family is really creative?
"And who could you ask for help?"
(Snuffle) "You?" in a very small voice.
"Exactly. So if you dry your tears and wash your face, you can choose a religion, research it tomorrow night and on Saturday I'll help you design and create your poster."
So we did. I knew she was fine when she chose the Aztecs because of the human sacrifices, which meant that her slightly macabre sense of humour had reasserted itself.
It actually took the whole of the weekend, because she does things thoroughly and it meant the Christmas decorations are still not up. But we did create a colourful and informative poster – complete with blood splattered ritual human sacrifice images.
It was only after she'd gone off to catch the school bus clutching it firmly in her hand that I had my revelation. I too get paralysed by tasks I think are beyond my capabilities. Tasks I have no idea how to set about accomplishing. And then I get all stressed and worried by them.
When all I need to do is ask for some help.
In my experience, most people are flattered if you ask them for help. And they're more than willing to assist.
So let's get over ourselves. Let's admit we don't know everything and can't do everything and actually ask for help.
We'll be glad we did.
A Moodscope member.