After a nice lunch at our cousins’ place in Sydney, the mind wavered back to the events of the recent, intense weeks. Two episodes came to the surface that led me philosophising. One, involving a series of incidents at work that might refine the way I look at my role and, the other, a learning experience watching my daughter go through a bout of high school assignments and assessments.

First, about the school assignment in this blog. (I will need more than a nice lunch to pen down the office stuff, which I will do in my next blog).

Two weekends ago, it was quite easy for me to comfort my daughter grappling with her English assignment: to write a creative essay about a character from the book they were reading at class. Peer pressure and high levels of expectations set on her was telling, as she asked me for some advice. I gave her tips and tricks but encouraged to write it in her own style.

She drafted it quickly and read it back to us. It sounded well as I heard her narrate, while munching on snacks, congratulating myself on how I let her do it by herself. A few days later she came home with a strange look on her face. While the teacher’s comments were positive on many aspects of the essay, he was critical on grammar and punctuation. He had gone on to state that a bit of proof reading at home could have made the result better.

I felt guilty. I chided myself for just being observant and not getting involved in her homework. Instead of lecturing her while sitting on a couch, I should have sat down with her to work on sentences and structure. My wife politely reminded me of how I take blogging more seriously than helping with homework and wondered out loud, how one could be so casual about it.

I then had a chance to redeem myself during the subsequent assignment about writing further on the character. This time, I spent a good couple of hours with my daughter (the wife looking over my shoulders). We researched about gothic style of fiction writing. It felt good about learning something new. After she finished her draft, I verified it, suggested corrections and ideas.

I also expanded on how to not worry about what the teacher might think of her essay and only focus on her own effort and preparation. This was not me preaching her about do-your-karma-without-expectations (Bhagavad Gita) but more of trying to be a helpful dad, offering a logical explanation: we can only control what we do (effort) and can never be sure about the result.

I got a pat on the back from wife once she read the final draft. It was our best effort.

The teacher’s feedback arrived few days later. He praised her for the creative elements in the narrative. I noticed a comment in the end. “The essay would have turned out better if you had done a bit of proof reading.”