"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to....

And in the aftermath of the Bookshelf Incedent, there was, of course,


(not really)

At the beginning of the year, Mrs. C and I worked out a homework plan. If Princess's homework was not completed and correct by Thursday, she would stay in for recess Friday to finish it.

Normally I would not be a proponent of staying in for recess. But here's the thing: Princess is not really struggling with her homework. Which means when she has to stay in for recess to finish it, the work takes her an average of five minutes per page.

Keep that in mind: Princess's weekly homework has been proven to use about fifteen minutes of her time per week.

Princess stays in for recess to finish her homework almost every Friday.

This is getting a bit stale for me (and, I venture to say, Mrs. C), so I decided homework would be a priority for Princess this weekend. Or a priority for me to have for Princess, anyway. Friday evening as I started dinner, I called her to the kitchen counter to start Homework Paper Number One: coloring the odd numbers red and the even numbers blue.

Ok I'm done!
Hmm. I see you colored the first row red and the second row blue and the third row red. Please read the directions again.
Um. Now I see you colored all the numbers that start with one red and the rest blue.
That's fascinating! Because you had two papers in your Friday Folder that you did in school this week with odd and even numbers and everything on them was done right.
Hmm. Well, I can't teach it to you right now because I'm cooking. I'll ask Peanut to, though.

Because Peanut is in first grade. You know. The grade in which they teach you odd and even numbers. Peanut's help, though, I have to say, was less then well received.

I don't like it when Peanut tells me how to do it.
I can understand that, Princess, because I don't like it when you pretend you can't do stuff.
It makes me feel frustrated when she does that.
I can imagine. Because it makes me feel frustrated when you pretend you can't do it yourself.

And she did the worksheet. Correctly. In five minutes.

Saturday. Same odd and even numbers. Different paper. Same story. Only this time she asked if Peanut would help her. Josh said, "I don't know...she's being really compliant and letting Peanut explain it to her. Maybe she doesn't really understand it?"

Baby. Come on. I love you, but. Really.

Sunday. I knew this one was going to be a corker. It was just estimation and subtraction- two skills she's been doing for a while, but something about the way it was set up and the wording, well, I knew it was going to seem harder than it was to her.

After several hours of attitude and accusations and crumpling and tearing (and a new one! Biting off pieces of paper and spitting them into the waste basket), Josh sat down with her. Then Josh and I had an argument.

She got him. She is that good.

He said he really thought she didn't get it, and he was upset because the way she wasn't getting it reminded of his own struggles with school and dyslexia.

Now, I'm not saying she doesn't have learning and processing problems. She does. Oh, she does. What I'm saying is this particular thing? She knew how to do. And my point to Josh was that there is no evidence whatsoever that she actually struggles with homework in particular. EVERY week she crabs and moans and fakes and acts and just plain doesn't do her homework. And EVERY week she gets it out during recess and is done correctly in five or ten minutes. EVERY. Week.

However. I have a theory. Of course I do. I am reasonably sure she is afraid she won't be able to do it. And she is even more afraid someone will find out she can't do it. And she is super afraid that then SHE will know she can't do it. So, she pretends (and very realistically) that her Hello Kitty Build-a-Bear wields a syringe every night while she is sleeping, uses it to extract her brain, squirts it into the toilet, and flushes. Because she knows she is faking. And if she knows she is faking, then she can tell herself she can do it just fine and doesn't have to risk maybe finding out she can't.

Because, you know, that makes total sense.

So finally I marched into the kitchen. I took away all the papers (because I cut them up into individual problems), erased them, and handed her one. I said, "all this is is subtraction and estimation. Just subtraction. And estimating. I know you know how to do this. Mrs. C knows you know how to do this. Now you need to tell yourself you know how to do this. So tell yourself you know how to do it. AND DO IT!!!!!"

She was done in ten minutes.


  1. So what did Josh have to say to that?

    Mary in TX

  2. @Mary- Oh, he acquiesced. He's a good man. :)

  3. Imagine that! :-D Would love to hear her acceptance speech. :)

  4. Kerrie, we had a similar incidence with a RAD child. Her issue was principal-times-rate-times-time (to figure out how much money she'd owe the bank if she borrowed $1,000 at 5% interest for a year, for example). You just plug in the numbers. I even wrote P=$1,000, R=.05, etc. She couldn't do it. In exasperation, I told her that her brain must need some oxygen and she needed to get up and do some exercise. She chose to run my little circular driveway twice. We're talking five minutes, tops. Came in and KNOCKED those problems out. We both sat across from each other staring, it was *that* dramatic. She was so impressed she'd ask her principal if she could run their gym building (small private school) before a test. Really amazing. Helps get oxygen to the brain AND activates the cingulate gyrus (the part that gets stuck in a rut of helplessness, depression, fogginess, etc.). Can't hurt to try, right? Be blessed!

  5. @rr- We do send her out for driveway shoveling or running or whatever breaks, but it sure couldn't hurt being more deliberate about it. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Hmm, have you been in my house? We have had the same problem lately with Genea. ONly her thing is to drag her homework out to suck as much attention from us as possible, for hours. After over an hour of screwing around on one problem (and getting it wrong so many times that the only number left in the universe was the correct answer and STILL getting it wrong) it was time to have our nightly routine start and she was going to miss it. Suddenly, within less than 2 minutes, it was done correctly. A savant, she is a math savant!