“Hey buddy, this’ll be a fun homework assignment,” I said. “You get to write a story!”
“That’s not really fun,” he said. “I like Minecraft.”
“Well, what if you write a story about Minecraft then?”
“No thanks,” he said.
“But you have to do your homework,” I said, trying to sound cheerful while wondering what’s wrong with me for waiting until the last minute each week. I repeat myself; tell myself I can have a second glass of wine for not yelling or getting annoyed when he hides behind the couch with his iPad. I know that homework is hard for delayed kids. That it’s hard for all kids. But still.
“Uuuuh,” I hear from a Minecraft character on the iPad. “Uuuuuh,” I think but do not say.
“You’re flunking at everything” the voices on the downstairs bathroom wall holler up. I ignore them.
“Just do the beginning,” I say. “Two sentences to open your story and then I’ll help you.”
“Fine,” he says, and sits down at the kitchen table.
Five minutes go by.
“It’s difficult for me,” he says, putting his pen down. That’s what he says about everything he doesn’t want to do, like homework, using toothpaste, putting away his toys, and I don’t know what else. I hear it a lot.
I look at the clock.
I hurl mind-daggers out the front windows at my husband for being wherever he is that isn’t yet here on a Thursday night. I watch them gallop up the street, stumble, and follow one another into the storm drain. I hear them plop into the water below, giggling, thinking it’s a freaking swimming pool or something.
“I can’t even get my mind-daggers to behave,” I think.
Two sentences take six years to write. I put something in the oven for dinner as he sits, and think back to my own childhood and remember the math test I missed a question on.
I walked home from first grade as slowly as I could. I was embarrassed. A failure. I’d missed a problem on my math test that I knew the answer to but had rushed or forgotten, or I didn’t know what, but I’d gotten the answer wrong.
“Dummy,” I chanted with each footstep closer to home. “Dummy, dummy, dummy,” as I stepped, stepped, stepped. Dummy. Step. Dummy. Step.
After crossing the street, I had two houses to walk by before getting to our kitchen door. I knew my mom would be waiting and that she’d ask about my test.
I stopped in front of the house on the corner – the one with overgrown grass and too many teenage boys in it – and took the test out of my backpack. I stood, put my backpack on, and held the test behind me. I headed home, and threw my test in the carport trash.
The screen door squeaked as I entered and took off my shoes. “Hi honey,” my mom said before she asked about my test.
“We didn’t get them back yet,” I said. “Oh well that’s okay,” she said, and helped me hang my backpack, take out my Holly Hobby lunch box, and told me to sit and have a snack.
Finally relaxing, I sat at our table and ate my peach. It was sweet and the juice dripped onto my shirt. I probably leaned back, balancing my chair the way that drove my parents crazy. It was my favorite way to sit, the chair on two legs. If the chair legs were too close to the table, I’d fall back and hit my head on the sill. Too close to the window, and I’d crash forward.
My mom interrupted me. “Honey,” she said. “I found your test in the trash.” I hadn’t even realized she’d gone outside! I hated her for a minute. And then I started crying. “I’m sorry!” I said. “But I knew that answer and I missed it anyway, and and …” I trailed off. Crying harder.
“Shhh,” she said. “You only missed one. You didn’t need to throw your test in the trash. I’m proud of you.”
I look at my son as he writes. He concentrates so hard. I don’t want him to throw his test in the trash for missing a question now or ever. Homework is hard for delayed kids. Homework is hard, period.
“Here buddy,” I say. “I’ll help. I’ll write the middle if you tell me what it is.” Handwriting is hard for him, after all. It takes him a lot longer than typical six-year-olds. I justify myself, thinking about the minutes he spends in OT (occupational therapy). His pencil gripped so tightly, his face so close to the paper. Trying. It is hard for him.
He jumps up and hands me the pen. He runs laps, which he does when he’s working something out in his head or when he’s tired.
“Stop and tell me your story,” I said. And he did. 23 minutes later, his middle was done, and he sat and wrote the ending himself.
I felt like Superwoman.
And he, I think, may hold off another few months before wanting to throw tests in the trash because they’re not good enough. He already knows, and always has, that good enough is. He even did a cover to his story.
We went from this:
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “I felt like Superwoman when…”
Hosts: Me (Kristi) from Finding Ninee
and this week’s sentence thinker-upper, Vidya from Collecting Smiles.