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Parent Project Reflection
Nathan, Age 16, River Forest, IL

In Mr. B and Mr. L’s sophomore English literature class there is a rite of passage known as the parent project. I had to conduct a 30 minute interview with one of my parents; transcribe the 30 minutes of dialogue, and perform a 2 minute monologue as said parent in front of 50 of my peers as well as their parents. It was expected, throughout the several week project, that I would learn something about myself by learning more about my parent. Though noble in cause, I regarded this effort as another “feel good” assignment. However, I genuinely learned more about my Mom than I had known before which helped me to understand why she thinks the way she does.

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The clock was ticking and Mom had yet to arrive. I looked down the row and there were at least another 8 kids to go. As always, I assumed the worst, that there was not enough time for her to make it. My right leg began shaking and my hands were sweating so I squeezed myself inward as not to break character. Finally, she arrived.

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Initially, I felt that being my mom would be a risk. I feel that there are very specific gender roles at school; and that even though it is supposedly very liberal, there is a strict social protocol. I felt extremely relieved when, during class, I learned there were other male students performing as their moms. I really had no choice between interviewing my mom and my dad. I get along with my dad, but we aren’t particularly close because his job requires him to travel often. Consequently, he wasn’t in town when I had to do the interview. I have accepted the fact that he is frequently absent, which has brought me closer to my mom, and that is why I wanted to interview her.
The risk I took to be my mom was definitely worth it. I could not have expected or received a better outcome. I thought I knew everything about my mom and I found out there is still more to learn. I appreciated her honesty and insightfulness in describing how she formed her identity. I hope we can continue to discuss her life before and after my birth.

Though I had anxiety, I felt comfortable performing, because I was accustomed to the environment (being in that size room with that many people) since we have class in there every day. This project allowed me to understand what Mr. B said about learning about ourselves this year. Reviewing the class syllabus at the beginning of the semester, I thought the class would be a sob class about emotions and being politically correct. However, it soon became apparent the class really gets in there and picks at the scabs of society and our related opinions. I greatly enjoyed this project and am enjoying this class, because it is different from my other typically structured high school classes. I think this class will be very positive for me because it is not just a simple literature class; it is philosophical, psychological, and sociological English.

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