Saturday, May 31, 2014

Parenting: The Weekend Of Lost Schoolwork

So, we're having a study weekend. A study weekend is a weekend in which nothing fun happens until Firstborn is caught up on his schoolwork, which his teacher kindly sent home at my request, because Firstborn has apparently failed to actually complete any of it for about three weeks, now. So far, after agonizing hours of "I can't think!" last night, we have produced one play. (It relies heavily die-glue.)

This morning, Firstborn popped awake promptly at seven o'clock and went to interrupt his mother (who was grading assignments in the kitchen) by announcing that he wanted to get his work done so he could finally play video games and/or watch videos again. He then settled in at the kitchen table, and promptly dithered around for about four hours, during which he accomplished almost nothing. I woke up a bit later, and came out to help (and make tea). So by the time I got to the kitchen and started walking him through his second assignment, he'd already been at this for several hours. He'd come up with two characters: a mammoth and a toucan. He'd assigned them character traits. He was thinking - if that's the word for it - about the setting. And, in the process, deciding that he really wasn't all that happy with the characters he'd just spent four hours creating.

Writer's Block: We Haz It.

Finally, just to make a point about the need to quit thinking and do something, I sat down and wrote my own little scene. Then I called his mother over, and we did a live dramatic reading. And then I pointed out that I'd written the entire thing in the time he'd spent "thinking" about the setting for his play. I took a moment to suggest, in my best not-at-all-frustrated tone of voice, that if he'd just start writing, he'd be done by now.

But since I now have a sample of homework-worthy play for a second-grade assignment, and nothing else to do with it, I'm going to stick it here.
Monkey - quick, smart, small, lazy
Rhinocerous - big, strong, dumb, impatient

A zoo

Trying to escape

The Scene:

Monkey: Hey! Hey! Over here!

Rhinocerous: Huh? Who's that? Quiet down, will you?

Monkey: Up here! In the tree! Look up, you great big...

Rhinocerous: Monkey? What are you doing out of your cage? You're going to get in trouble.

Monkey: I'm escaping!

Rhinocerous: So why are you talking to me? I was trying to sleep.

Monkey: I need your help. I can't get over this wall.

Rhinocerous: You're a monkey. Climb it.

Monkey: It's too smooth. I need you to knock it down.

Rhinocerous: No way. Then I would get in trouble.

Monkey: Please?

Rhinocerous: No.

Monkey: Look, I'll just come down there...

Rhinocerous: Go back to your... fine. You're here. Annnnd you're standing in front of the wall.

Monkey: I just need you to put your head down and knock a hole right here.

Rhinocerous: No. I'm going back to sleep... Hey! What was that?

Monkey: That was an apple.

Rhinocerous: Why'd you throw an apple at me?

Monkey: Like this?

Rhinocerous: HEY! You did it again!

Monkey: How about this one?

Rhinocerous: Listen, buddy, you keep this up and I'm going to squash you good!

Monkey: Like this? (Splat!)

Rhinocerous: That does it! GRRRRR-CHARGE! Hey! Where'd you go? And what happened to the wall?

Monkey: I dodged. And you went right through it. And we just escaped from the zoo.

Rhinocerous: What? All right, fine. You go. I'm going back to bed.

Monkey: Thanks, man. I owe you one.

Rhinocerous: And I owe you a knock on the head you'll never forget. But if you're leaving now...

Monkey: I'm gone.
I still had to set a timer and tell him that horrible things were going to happen if I didn't see a finished product by the time it went off. At that point, he suddenly started writing, and produced a one-act play in about five minutes. So, now, we're going to go get lunch... because I don't think I can keep going like this. Not without food, anyway.


  1. Wow, that sounds frustrating. I hope the rest of the weekend is easier for all three of you.

  2. We got food, and let the kids play on the playground for a bit. Also, I have rum. Outlook for the afternoon is definitely improving!

  3. He then settled in at the kitchen table, and promptly dithered around for about four hours, during which he accomplished almost nothing.

    Oh, I know that feeling all too well. I think I was known on some occasions to go as long as twelve hours.

    It's not too fun from the kid's side, either. Especially when they throw away the diary entry you wrote on the side of a box in a desperate attempt at procrastination, before you get a chance to transcribe it. (It was not a disposable box. They were not happy.)

  4. I was telling his grandfather about it, and he said: "You know, I hate to admit this, but I'm pretty sure I had some times like that when I was about his age."

    "I have very distinct memories," I told my father, "of you trying to coax me through very much the same set of circumstances, when I was that age."


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