Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Slice of Life - Homework Battles

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

Looking at our quiet little street from our front porch, I had a strong desire to walk out the door and go on a run. Frustration flowed through my body and I needed to get it out. I glanced back at the front door to our home and saw the angry nine-year-old face glaring out at me.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

I was not going back in until I felt calmer.

My mind raced. Why was he in such a horrible mood? One math problem had set him off. Tears, frustration pouring out. I had waited and then calmly walked in the dining room, read the problem to him, asked questions to get his mind working, helped him work through the problem. His pencil grip was tighter and tighter. His writing angrier and angrier. I tried to be calm, but I’m sure he could tell I was irritated.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

Moving on to his book talk for the following day, I asked him to practice on me. It was then I realized he had almost nothing written down. We looked over the directions. I pointed out that he did, indeed, need more than he had written so far. His frustrations were bubbling over. So were mine.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

Helping him write out his notes, my mind swallowed everything I wanted to say, but knew I could not. I thought to the many parents over the years who have emailed me, asking for advice on homework with their children. I cursed myself for the emails back, my “simple” answers. None of those answers were helping right now.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

After practicing the book talk with me, I grew tired of the disrespectful tone, the frustrated tears, the angry looks. I announced I was giving myself a time out and came out to the porch.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.

Walking back inside, I sat down on the couch. With a deep breath, I asked him to relax. “We all have bad days, we all make mistakes, we all hurt those we love.”
Those nine-year-old eyes I know and love looked up at me. I continued, “It is what we do when we know we’ve messed up that matters.”

“Can I have a hug, a kiss, and a start over?”

“You bet.”

I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach of not understanding assignments. The question of why everyone else got something so quickly that looked like another language to me. And that memory will help me react from a point of compassion instead of irritation.

Inhale, two, three, four five… exhale, two, three, four five. Repeat.


We’re good.

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers.

 
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