When I was in school, my parents gave me extra homework assignments.
At the time, I hated doing more work after school and all summer.
But as an adult, I'm grateful that they pushed me to exercise my brain growing up.
Some of my earliest memories are groaning about Language Arts.
In grade school, I came home every Monday with a five-page vocabulary packet. For my teacher, one page was due each day of the week. But for my mom, the whole packet was due on Monday.
She'd spend the rest of the week coming up with more creative assignments for me to do each night pertaining to the vocabulary words, like writing a short story with them.
That isn't the only extra homework assignment I remember. I wrote papers for my parents about presidential candidates, from George W. Bush to John Kerry. In 2008, I was assigned a persuasive essay when I told my mom I wanted Barack Obama in the White House.
And when fifth grade ended, my mom dropped a 400-page workbook in front of me titled, "What Your 6th Grader Needs to Know." I had to finish it by the end of the summer.
In high school, my parents stopped giving me extra homework, but they required me to take all advanced classes and volunteer in the summers.
When I was a kid, I hated this routine. I asked my mom all the time, "Why are you making me do this?"
"Because you can," she'd say.
Regardless of my abilities, to me, it was a drag.
Now, I see my parents' assignments completely differently
By giving me extra work, my parents were pushing me to exercise my brain past what was expected of me. And looking back, that helped me get ahead.
I was in the habit of writing essays before a teacher ever assigned me one. The summer workbooks kept my brain busy all summer long. So when it was time for school in the fall, I didn't have lazy habits.
In the working world, I can see how my summer assignments served me growing up. I graduated college with the mental stamina to work hard with no seasons off.
Today, I'm a travel reporter. My job sends me around the world to take pictures and write about my experiences.
When I was a kid, I never dreamed I'd be doing this, but my mom's attitude about my additional assignments gave me the confidence to go after exactly what I wanted — no matter the workload — because I could, as she always said.
If I could, I'd face 7-year-old me, rolling her eyes at a Language Arts packet, and I'd tell her she had nothing to groan about.
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