Recently, our oldest came home from college for a weekend, homework in tow. I know the child is 23 years old, but I was happy that he was able to find the assignment (okay, so it was online, but still). I was even happier that he had the correct book.
Ron’s homework was to write a comprehensive summary of three chapters in one of his business textbooks. Talk about boring. He’s pretty interested in it, though. He explained enough to show me he had a good grasp of the subject, although for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.
We had a good discussion about how hard it is for him to write. It’s still hard for him to focus, and it’s still hard for him to get his thoughts on paper. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
Ron: “I’m having a hard time with this. I can’t summarize it like I want.”
Me: “Just go through the chapter and summarize the topic sentence of each paragraph.”
Ron: “How’s that going to prepare me for real life? I want it to be in my own words. I might have to write a business report one day.”
Me: “You’ll have a secretary. And it will be in your own words. Don’t over complicate things! Just get it over with. DO it.”
Good grief. He wanted to rewrite the chapter. It was a summary – not a research paper. The purpose of a summary is to summarize!
I reminded him to go through the chapter and make an outline with all the headings. He had done that already. (Does this mean that he was listening to me when he was in high school?)
Ron: “Writing isn’t as easy for me as it is for you and Ash.”
Me: “Walking into a room full of friends and being friends with everybody in five minutes isn’t as easy for me as it is for you.”
Ron: “I just can’t get it from my brain onto the paper. I can talk about this until I’m blue in the face, but when I try to put it on paper, I blank out.”
At this point, we’ve moved from a discussion to a rant, and he’s procrastinating. I know this trick.
Me: “That’s called a screen, bud. 21st century. Look at it and type.”
Ron still is frustrated by his difficulties. He still procrastinates. He’s still disorganized, although not overwhelmingly so. Ron still won’t do things that really would help – like speak his thoughts into a recorder, then transcribe them. Ron still works best in short spurts. He’d set a goal, work madly until he met it, then stop and play a video game or get something to eat. Ron is learning, and enjoying the learning, but not the studying. But at the end of the day, Ron is succeeding!
During one of the his breaks, I read him the story I’d written about one nightmare of a weekend when he left one of his assignments in his jeans pocket – and I washed it. It’s an hysterical story, one that will sound way familiar to you. Read it here, and you’ll understand I can write things like Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare.
Anyhow, while I was reading I left out his name, and when I finished, Ron said – with great disdain, “Who was that?!”
You’ve come a long way, buddy.
PS If you’ve not read Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare, you really owe it to yourself to grab a copy before your next homework nightmare begins!