November 17, 2008

Not as I Do

Last night Paul and I were sitting side-by-side at our computers, and he said, "GEEZ, there is A-1 sauce all OVER my monitor!" And I said, "?" and he said, "Don't Twitter that." And then I said, "?" and he said "Don't Twitter THAT, either." So I didn't.

What I did about the Rob situation (the one where he said he'd completed two out of three in-class writing sessions without yet choosing a SUBJECT) is first I helped him choose a topic, and then I told him to tell his teacher what was going on. My mom's a teacher and I grew up hearing the teacher's point of view, so now I'm over-sensitized to it to the point where I don't even want to COMMUNICATE with the teacher in case I accidentally imply that I think my child's inborn flaws are her fault.

And in this case, this is an inborn flaw of Rob's I've been struggling unsuccessfully with for YEARS: he'll sit there trying to think of "the perfect thing," and so he doesn't think of anything, and the longer he thinks about it the less perfect all the options seem. His first grade teacher mentioned that he would sit during Journal Time getting increasingly stressed and writing nothing, so he and I worked for the entire school year on "just writing what comes into your head, rather than Questing For Perfection." We made some progress at the time, but when we worked on it again this past summer (I work on it with him each summer, to keep from losing ground) he was all Attitude about it, writing stream-of-consciousness stuff including all the words to the song "B-I-N-G-O" and the numbers 1 to 100, so I kind of threw in the towel and figured it's good he's good at math.

Let's see, where was I? Oh, yes: so I told him to tell his teacher he hadn't yet started on the assignment he was supposed to have 2/3rds completed. For one thing, I couldn't think of a way of telling his teacher myself. For another thing, this is the kind of problem he needs to work on NOW, so that maybe he won't flunk a college history final because he's too shy to go up to the teacher and say, "Hey, I don't understand what you mean by that essay question," which I'm not saying I know anything about but GEEZ why didn't I just ASK? I mean, teachers don't BITE.

He was really nervous about telling his teacher, but I was all "Do as I say, not as I do," and so he did it, and he came home from school saying he was SO RELIEVED. His teacher apparently said, "Okay," and then she checked all 20 kids' work and found that Rob was not the only one who was a little behind, and so she's giving everyone an extra 45-minute writing session, and also Rob said in one session he got everything done up through the rough draft, so all he has to do is the final draft. Woot. And I can't donate blood this month because I sweated out too much of it over this.

15 comments:

Pickles and Dimes said...

I bet Rob is really happy he pushed through his fear to talk to his teacher. Good for you for helping him.

I had a writing class in college with a girl who was such a perfectionist she couldn't start her article (on being a perfectionist, ironically) until it was perfect in her mind. She missed the deadline, asked for more time, and even then, still didn't have anything written down. She was literally paralyzed by the fear it wouldn't be perfect.

I like that you told Rob to write ANYTHING. I think just having words on the page will help him out. He can always edit later. Maybe he's going to be an editor! :)

Mommy Daisy said...

I think you handled that perfectly. I'm glad that ROb was able to approach his teacher about it. It sounds like she wasn't keeping good tabs on the progress of any students. At least he knows he's not alone now.

Oh, I love the "Don't Twitter that" stuff. He he.

Amanda said...

Going through elementary school as a parent is HARD! I feel the pressure of my second grader's assignments. I feel for his teachers. I agonize when he MAJORLY lacks in motivation. GAH! It's far worse than going through it all yourself.

Now my Kindergartner, not so much. She's easy peasy, wants to please her teacher. I wonder how long that will last?

d e v a n said...

Well played, Swistle. Well played.

Joceline said...

As a former teacher, I have to say that I LOVE how you handled this situation, as well as your ability to see things from the teacher's point of view. No teacher is perfect, but we all appreciate dealing with parents who accept that their kids can make mistakes, and that they can learn from them!

Also? My mom saved my journals from elementary school, and they are chock full of stream-of-consciousness BS because the teacher told us to "just write what comes to mind." The only journal entries that are an exception are the ones that are a pack of horrible lies about how mistreated I was at home, etc. I think I had issues...but I did end up becoming a really good student, loving to write, and eventually became an English teacher. Maybe Rob has it in him, but it just won't come out for a few years...

Julie said...

Oh, I'm so glad you encouraged Rob to speak with his teacher. You handled this beautifully and I'm filing it away for if ever I'm in the same situation with Emily. I hope you rewarded your success with something chocolate! :)

Emily said...

It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly. He gained some confidence in talking to teachers about issues, which is always good.

I sometimes get all flustered when talking to the partners here. . . lol maybe I need to take your advice "they don't bite."

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I'm totally impressed with how well you handled this. Masterful, really. I'm taking notes! I think it's great that you had HIM talk to the teacher. What an important lesson right there!

Also, the stream of consciousness stuff made me laugh because there's this self help book called "the Artist's Way" which tells you to write three pages every morning, first thing when you wake up. It's supposed to open up your creative side (I did it when I was trying to choreograph a dance piece). It mostly meant that I wrote the equivalent of all the words to "BINGO" over and over and OVER again.

nonsoccermom said...

I am very impressed! We aren't quite there yet because my oldest is just in kindergarten, but I am sure there is plenty of this stuff for me to look forward to.

Parenting - it is physically demanding when they are very small, but in my limited experience it becomes far more mentally taxing with each passing year. GRAH.

Jiff said...

Wow! Awesome job!

Miss Grace said...

My inborn school-problem is that I've always hated school, so at least with Rob it's something you can work with.

Erin said...

Excellent! I'm relieved for BOTH your sakes.

Also love how you handled Paul's potentially twitter-able comments. Put them in a blog post instead! Hee!

Kelsey said...

I think it's great how you were so supportive of Rob while making him take the responsibility.

I am always second-guessing myself when there is something I want to ask Harper's teacher because I know how valuable her time is and I don't want it to seem like I'm attacking her. Generally I try to remind myself that the timing and tone of the approach are important. For example, hostility and first thing in the morning are not likely to go over well! :-)

Excellent job all the way around!

Michelle said...

Ok, good parenting! Way to very carefully walk the line between helping him yourself figure it out and getting him comfortable with approaching the teacher with problems.

Wanna help us now? I jsut ot home from Seattle and discovered that the daycare kindergarten teacher sent home a note about how horrible Mister Man was on Thursday -- and how Mister Man didn't think he had a bad day -- and to see if I have any suggestions for her. Can't wait for this discussion with Mister Man tomorrow....

StephLove said...

I'm glad you worked out a solution to the writing problem. Mine often spends time he's supposed to be working at at school off in dreamland. It's not a perfectionism issue. He just gets lost in his own thoughts, wondering how many ceiling tiles there are, etc. Same end result, though.