I only said “I told you so” three times,

but I stopped myself from saying it at least a hundred. The greatest parenting books have one common theme: “The best thing you can do for your child is to let him figure things out on his own.” The quickest way, they caution, to cut the lines of communication is to use the infamous phrase that our own parents used, “I told you so.”

But I couldn’t help myself.

The assignment, adding to my son’s already overloaded homework burden, was to illustrate, write and bind a children’s book.



He was not content to do the minimum of 12 pages, my son decided to create 18.



Worse, rather than use easy illustrations for a concept book, like “How Many Soccer balls,” my illustrious artist choose to illustrate 18 different animals. 18 different animals. “So, how long do you think this will take you?”

“About 6 minutes per animal,” he said.



“OK, I’ll time you.” Twenty-two minutes passed, and he was still working on the first. So, I said, let’s multiply that by 18… “396 minutes just to do the book.” Plus, he added, that this was just the first draft… he would then re-do the entire book, so there are two books to make.

Undaunted by my pleas to “stop, re-think this,” and “let’s not make this so hard on yourself,” and of course, “I told you so,” he continued to work. It was Saturday night. I finally stopped him at 12:30 to go to bed. So far, he had managed to find a how-to draw video on the Internet for each animal. He still had six animals to go.



The next morning, I asked him if he was tired, and picked up my campaign where I left off last night to save my child. I got nowhere fast. If anything, I was making this far worse than the actual book production. Then I heard him say these words. “I just like doing this.” Finally, I left him alone and dropped it.

I did the only thing I could do. I started unwrapping the twisty ends on my Smarties, and started eating.

It didn’t take long… in just a couple of days, he said, “I wish I hadn’t made this book so long.” And no, I didn’t say it. I acted as if I didn’t even hear him. Parenting is oh, so tough.

He did finish the book, ahead of schedule.

But I did tell him how awesome his book was… at least 100 times. The books, by the way, made by each student, were given to children in a day-care facility the students visited.

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25 comments to “I only said “I told you so” three times,”
  1. Such a cute book, Susie! I guess another good bit of advice would be, “Don’t be afraid to let your child work hard on a project that interests them.”

    I have often heard that people need to be balanced, but really, if we are passionate about something, we devote more time and interest to that than to other things in our lives. I think children deserve the space to be allowed to do that, too.

    Again, the book is just beautiful. 🙂

  2. WOW- his book is beautiful! He obviously has tremendous talent and that’s why he enjoys it so much.

    Sometimes I find it very hard not to do the “I told you so” stuff, especially when it ends up with one child crying because they are exhausted and have run out of time. Parenting is hard work!

    Happy Mother’s Day, Susie J!

  3. It’s too bad you didn’t get to keep it, what a beautiful book! He’s truly talented!

    Broke my heart to give it away, Janet, but so awesome for the kids at the school.

  4. Wow, I’m really impressed. With both your biting of your I told you so tongue, and his tallent!! Awesome job, both of you.

  5. WOW. I would pay money for that book. It’s amazing what kids can accomplish when they’re actually interested in what they are doing. And I think Morgan is a fabulous name for a sheep.

    Sarah, every page rhymed with the page before it, hence the cool names. He did an amazing job. And yes, I’m glad he had the experience of “flow” and really got into the book.

  6. What a special boy, you have. Sure, maybe you wanted to tell him, but he’s an awesome kid! Look at all the hard work he put into a book that he’s GIVING AWAY.

    I hope my daughter will follow in his foot steps one day.

    I know, Natalie, giving away! So hard to let that book go! Especially when he had brothers who would have loved it!

  7. His drawing is amazing! What hard work he put in – great job at stepping back and letting him make the decisions (even if they were the hard ones)….I don’t know how well I will do with that when mine get older!

  8. I’ve taught this project – It’s always one of my favorites – but you’ll be happy to know I make it an IN class project 🙂

    Oh, yes, IN-CLASS would have changed this entire project dramatically. If he didn’t have so much work in his other classes, it wouldn’t have been so hard.

  9. OMG he has such incredible talent. How could you n ot let him carry on doing his thing, using his gift? How can you bear to pass it on and not keep it as an absolute treasure? His art is just astounding.

    I think as parents we don’t appreciate sometimes the incredible individuality of our children — their unique aptitudes and abilities. We get caught up in our own needs — timing, teaching our own ideas (efficiency, need to balance things, other tasks ahead to accomplish, time management).

    MotherPie, I was so torn. I was happy he loved what he was doing… but he was getting no sleep, because he had so much work in his other classes. We both learned much. The hardest part was letting that book go.

  10. That is a wonderful book. I can still remember a project like that that I did in grade school, to this day. Working through something big like that is an important experience!

  11. Pingback: The Laughing Cow Lives Here | Susiej

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