My daughter thought I was the kidding the first time I told her my parenting motto.  She was trying to make up a decision about middle school and I said, "Well, we won't know if you made the right choice until its too late."  She did a double take and looked at me like I was once again pulling her leg (which- fun fact- she'll find out in later years from her therapist, was what they will term an "UNUSUAL PARENTING STYLE.")

But I wasn't kidding.  How do we know if our parenting choices are mistakes or not?  This is the drawback of being the first born.  "You get to be our test model, sweetheart!"  The benefit of course being the voluminous photographic documentation of your life from first breath on.

Here is something I HAVE learned along the way: middle school is perfectly designed for failure.  Middle school ("Mom, don't call it Jr. High!") is where helicopter parents have to suck it up and let your precious angels crash and burn.  The grades don't count toward their high school grade point, so learning this sooner rather than later is of utmost importance.  And I know what you're thinking, "Oh, I'll have to remember that when he's in 8th grade."

But why wait?!

No better option for these "learning opportunities" exist than the 6th grade science project.  Is your little Einstein testing what happens when Mentos are dropped into Diet Coke  (Stand back!) or are they studying the regeneration rates of earthworms?  Let it be their choice.  Did they haphazardly write on or *gasp!* tape the pictures to the display board?   Let that issue get worked about between the blessed teacher who will grade their project and your kid.

Finally, let's get right down to the dirtiest of science project secrets:  perhaps there is more of your work than your kid's work on display.  I respectfully ask you to reconsider the message you are sending -that you don't think they've got what it takes to make the grade.  Ouch.

Teaching kids to fail, no matter how painful it may be for you, is what parenting is about.  So stand back, keep your mouth closed and let them struggle.