Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

When it Comes to Life and Homework, Good Enough Is

“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.

6:45 p.m.

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:

One day a 6 yo came home from school. His homework was to write a short story with a beginning, a middle and an end. His mom thought "fun assignment." The 6 yo did not think so. Therefore, homework sucks. The end.

to this:

homework is hard for delayed kids


Finish the Sentence FridayThis 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.

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  • Allie - Homework and Minecraft – I swear, that’s all Cammy and I talk about! And why are our young children having to write so much and do so much homework!?!!!!?!!!?!!!!!?!!! I’m with Janine – I get very fire up about this! You are not alone and it is not a delayed (only) issue. This is freakign ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry. I get upset – and I’ll tell you why/more later. Peace, love, out.March 17, 2016 – 11:13 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I look forward to you telling me more about why you get fired up about homework. It really is a pain in the butt though. And really, they sit there ALL DAY and work and work – do we really need to do more at home? Maybe but sheesh. xoMarch 18, 2016 – 5:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Listwa - OH, Kristi, that struggle with handwriting and how it’s so hard? The hours in OT struggling to improve? I swear you’ve been at our kitchen table at night. It really IS so hard for them, especially when there is so much great stuff in their little heads and it’s so difficult to make their bodies translate it. Know what I mean? Sometimes I think I’m Superwoman for not losing my mind when we spend an hour doing what should really only take 20 minutes.
    But we keep at it.March 18, 2016 – 1:06 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - YES Lisa! I know exactly what you mean!! It really is so hard for them and I just can’t stand watching him struggle so much. But, he’s also made so many strides and I know they have happened because of struggling through. Still though, I see nothing wrong with writing the words to the middle for him. That’s a LOT of writing. Here’s to keeping at it, sister.March 18, 2016 – 5:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Don’t even get me started on homework with either of my girls as I just hate it so much. That said, I just can’t believe all they are both learning at such young ages. Still, like you I always try to stress that as long as they try their best that is all that really matters, because I never want them to feel badly if they do miss a question here or there either.March 18, 2016 – 2:20 amReplyCancel

  • Vidya Sury - How incredibly sweet, Kristi! Tucker is such a champ. Hugs! And I caught each one of your mind daggers and gave them a little hug and kiss and boomeranged them back to you with good juju!

    Homework is hard for everyone, including the parents simply because one would rather be doing something else! I remember so well those days when my son would sit at his little desk, pencil in hand, with that crazy look of concentration. He had a load of homework even in kindergarten.

    You ARE Superwoman! And I am happy to be your co-superwoman today!March 18, 2016 – 3:51 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Vidya and thank you for co-hosting with me again this week! Tucker really is a champ. He blows my mind daily 🙂
      Thank you (and tee hee) to you having caught my mind daggers, hugging them, and sending them back with good juju. 😀
      That crazy look of concentration they get – wow. It’s really something isn’t it? They’re so young, and so old…March 18, 2016 – 5:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Ugh to homework! The kids sit still and work all day – the last thing they want to do in the evening is homework. And, the last thing I want to do is fight with them about it. Good for Tucker – his story is awesome – & good for mama sticking with it!March 18, 2016 – 9:16 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I agree that the last thing I want to do is to fight about getting homework done, Lisa!March 18, 2016 – 5:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Every week, like clockwork, we wait until Thursday night to even look at the weekly homework due on Friday.
    This was the first week Scarlet asked to do it on Tuesday. What the what? And the first time I sat with her and did it with her start to finish.
    I needed a cape for it!March 18, 2016 – 10:52 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - That’s awesome she wanted to do it on Tuesday AND that you sat and did all of it with her, Tamara!March 18, 2016 – 5:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Good job mama!

    I giggled at, “Fine”, that is universal. Christopher just said it when I helped him divide up sections of something he wrote and has to memorize, suggesting how he should learn “this much” every day. “Fiiiiiine.”

    It seriously takes a superwoman to have patience when it comes to homework. I have lost my temper over homework and we’ve both had to take timeouts SEVERAL times over the years. I’m ashamed to admit I yelled, “WHAT ARE YOU CRYING FOR?” We’ve apologized and we’ve bounced back. It’s normal. At least I hope it is.March 18, 2016 – 11:37 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL “Fine” is universal isn’t it? It’s way too easy to lose a temper over homework I think. I do it and UGH when they cry? I’ve gotten annoyed by that too sadly. I think it’s got something to do with that if they just did it, they’d be done but instead we have to fight about it and listen to whining for longer than it would just take, ya know? I think it is normal. It must be. Thanks, Kenya!March 18, 2016 – 5:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Lana Lindgren - I missed out on so much when I was younger because I was so worried about having straight A’s. And in the end, it didn’t really matter. I’ve tried to take that pressure off my boys, and as long as they are doing their best, that’s what counts. Homework sucks – for the parents & the kids! I love how you handled this assignment – he persevered with a little help from you, and ended up with a great experience! And I love his story – yay for Steve the hero :)! Thanks for another great sentence this week!March 18, 2016 – 2:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - I’m in tears reading this… Oh Kristi- you have such a gift. A gift with your precious Tucker and a gift in conveying the struggles and triumphs that we ALL face in many ways. This touched me so deeply. Your words always do… <3March 18, 2016 – 3:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - Oh Kristi, you are so kind and wise and Tucker is so lucky to have you as his mom. I fail constantly (I have a new story I might write about some day soon but am not ready yet–another failure on my part!) BUT as far as you are concerned, I wish I had as much patience in my little finger nail as you do with your son. And one other note, writing was very hard for Lindsey because of her tremors and I know it is hard for Tucker for different reasons. Has the school considered allowing him to write on a computer keyboard? Maybe you are not wanting him to do it that way quite yet, but when the school suggested a keyboard for Lindsey, it really helped. (Not totally in her case, but still it was better than her shaky handwriting). Believe me, Tucker’s writing is a thousand times clearer than Lindsey’s. Anyway, just a thought and it may come up in the future. For right now, yay Tucker for getting his story done. It is an awesome story.

    p.s. I am so sad that you felt you had to throw away your paper for only one wrong problem. I guess that is the burden of us over-achievers, huh? Your mom sounds awesome as well. Hugs to you.March 18, 2016 – 4:21 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Linda! YOU are so kind and honestly I fail frequently as well. Like, a LOT. He gets way too much time on the iPad for sure. Sigh. We haven’t talked about the keyboard idea yet, mostly because he’s making so much progress. It just doesn’t come naturally to him at all. Like for “h” and n” and letters with the little leg? He adds those in after. Anyway, yes, YAY for him getting his story done! And yeah, the burden of over-achievers. It makes me sad I threw it away too. I’m glad my mom went and got it though. Hugs right back!March 18, 2016 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - Oh boby. Sorry it is such a struggle for him. Must be hard, so hard as a parent, to watch that struggle. I am surprised more of us don’t have more headaches because of all the stress there is to cope with.
    Super amazed at how you guys make it better for him, as I know you do, am just learning as I read more about your family.
    So many stories, as I wish I could get back that childhood imagination, but getting it all out is where the struggle resides.
    I feel for the kids who, forever reason or none at all, miss a question on a test and don’t have an understanding mother like you had. So much pressure. So many parent expectations placed on children and it frankly makes me mad when I hear about it, but I don’t have kids of my own and can’t help everyone. I just know the struggles I went through and wish I could make it all better for every child that has a hard time of it.March 18, 2016 – 4:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I wish I could make it better for all of the kids too Kerry and you’re right – the pressure some parents put on their kids is horrifying. At Tucker’s kindergarten orientation, there was a group of parents who were mad because they wanted their kids in the gifted program. I was like “just let them be five years old!” Ugh. But yes, I was lucky my mom was so loving and supportive about it and so hope to continue doing that for my own son. Nobody has asked me about my grades since I applied for college!March 18, 2016 – 5:57 pmReplyCancel

      • Kerry - I wanted to share something with you Kristi. This is a song that reminds me of when I was that scared little girl who felt stupid and under constant pressure to do better. I don’t blame any one person for that. I was sick and nobody knew how serious it was, but I remember never feeling good enough. Now I can hardly get through this song without tearing up, but thought you might understand.

        March 20, 2016 – 3:22 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - Kerry, thank you thank you. Alanis is amazing for sure, and I really REALLY appreciate you sharing this video. I think I understand. I hope I do anyway, and please never feel like you’re never good enough. Because you are. Exactly as you are today, right now.March 20, 2016 – 11:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Ugh, I do not miss those HW-helping days at all. But good for you and good for Tucker for hanging in there and doing a good enough job, which IS good enough. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but there will come a day when you stop helping with homework and you won’t even know what his homework assignments are! Truly! I am completely and blissfully unaware of my boys’ homework and even when I occasionally try to check-in/butt-in and see what they are doing, they have no interest in letting me know because they are on top of it, well, at least most of the time. 🙂March 18, 2016 – 7:08 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily thank you and I look forward to the day. Or, well, I don’t, too, you know? I mean gah, the time passes too quickly. So often, I wish I had Tucker earlier in life but then well, maybe he wouldn’t be Tucker so I don’t, too, you know? 🙂March 18, 2016 – 11:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - Ohhhhh I love that Steve’s the hero and he saved the villagers. And it was a great suggestion to make a Minecraft story. It works so well to have something they’re already into – Niece and Neff and I recently lived out a 2-and-a-half hour story in the forest, which I can only assume was a Minecraft-based thing, or Plants vs Zombies, because we were zombie hunters rescuing villages. At the end, Neff said “We spent a LONG time there playng with NOTHING…just our imaginations” and I loved that. I love that you’re encouraging T to use his, and that he’s ENJOYING it. That’s the best. No wonder you felt like Superwoman 😀March 18, 2016 – 10:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Leanne Russell - What a gorgeous story. I totally understand tears at homework time…..often caused from some of my frustrated comments and raised voice. I only get frustrated when my daughter becomes sulky or gets all smart assy on me. This year she has started high school and as if the maths wasn’t hard enough in primary school….now it’s a nightmare. For me too. I remember hiding in the girls toilets for double period maths. I didn’t learn a thing in maths for my entire high school experience. The other day was 35 degrees. We drove to the park, left the car air conditioning on and sat and did a heap of weird stuff called integers. The night before I’d stayed up until 2am trying to work it out. We worked through the problems and at the end the two ‘dumb blondes’ high fived each other proudly. But wer’e not really dumb blondes. We might suck at maths but we have so many other talents between us. That’s what I reminded her of. The same for your son. Just keep reminding him of all the great things he can do. In the end who made up the education system? Who told us that Math and English were SO important?March 20, 2016 – 11:35 amReplyCancel

  • Leanne Russell - Hi Kristi, I did post a blog about being a Super Mum but looking at my blog layout I realised my ABOUT is a static front page and my regular posts are hard to find. I’ve changed the layout to make it easier to find the latest posts. You must have thought I Was a little off topic!!March 20, 2016 – 9:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Leanne Russell - Ha ha..typical of me! I am not technical at all and had so much trouble with Wifi connection and eratic lap top behaviour. I also thought I was a day ahead of you guys…thought I’d scrape in on deadline. Need my son to help me!March 21, 2016 – 4:05 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - One of the perks of teenagers – I don’t help with homework anymore! Only on the rare occasion, because learning how to study is not something that comes easily, to any kid.

    I know Tucker has challenges on top of the typical homework challenges, and I know you have to be even more patient and creative to help him approach homework in a way that will encourage learning. It’s an uphill battle, but you can do it. You have mind daggers. 😉March 21, 2016 – 3:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Boo yah to mind daggers 😉
      Part of me will be sad when I no longer help with homework. How lamo is that?March 21, 2016 – 7:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Leanne Russell - No I’m in Australia.☺March 22, 2016 – 1:06 amReplyCancel

  • A Morning Grouch - I love this post. It scares me, thinking of my kiddos feeling like dummies, feeling non-confident. I know it’s inevitable and part of the growing process. I know it’s my job to help them build their confidence up over time. So important. This is what it’s all about – those little steps, those little things we do to help them see their worth: “And he, I think, may hold off another few months before wanting to throw tests in the trash because they’re not good enough”.March 23, 2016 – 2:11 pmReplyCancel

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