My children don’t let me see their writing assignments for school. I think it all started when they were in elementary school and I had to quit looking at those kinds of assignments because I wanted them to write at a level they were not capable of at those ages.
Fast forward to now: high school and middle school. Now I still fear to look at their papers because I don’t want there to be any appearance that I have done the work for them. And yet, when I don’t, I cringe, knowing they will turn in work with simple errors that could have been corrected by my proofread. So I walk this tightrope, wanting to read their work and very rarely being allowed to.
But last week as I straightened up the study, I found Elizabeth’s essay on Jane Austen’s Emma. Now this is one of my favorite books. I have been so excited that she had to read it. I knew the paper had already been turned in and graded for last semester, so I sat down to read this draft. After all, it had been left lying around in plain view.
I was pleasantly surprised! Yes, there were errors that made me cringe, but it was her assessment of the story and its characters that made me smile. I saw her compassion for the manipulated and insecure Harriet Smith, her unabashed disgust for Emma’s thinking so well of herself and trying to control everyone around her to suit her ideas of how life should be. And I loved the “life lessons” she pulled from the story—that you can’t control other people’s feelings, that “we as human beings are blinded by our own ambitions and sometimes miss the yellow flags right in front of us,” and that our imaginations and dreams are not reality and we can’t live as if they are. I wish I’d had those insights when I was her age!