Thank you all for your comments yesterday. I must keep reminding myself that this exercise, whether for NaBloPoMo or just generally, is about two things: keeping my writing muscles intact, and making a record of these years at home with the kids. I’m glad people enjoy it but I’d be doing it anyway. And vaguely judgmental jerks on Twitter can go screw.
On Monday Harry brought home a writing folder; he is to either draw or paste a picture to a page, and then write a brief story about it. (We are currently having a discussion about whether he is supposed to write one a week, or one a day. He thinks the latter. I’m pretty sure it’s not but eh, it’s not like I’m going to tell someone to do less homework.)
Day one he drew a picture of himself & his friend doing their math sheets, and then wrote “Me and Connor are doing our math papers.” I re-read the assignment to him and explained that the teacher wants a story, with as much detail as he can manage. He didn’t seem to understand. I let him read my post about the Pootastrophe of 2012. “You told us about this!” he said, “but it’s funnier written down!”
Ah. A glimmer of comprehension dawns.
So then we flipped through the only magazine I had handy, the L.L. Bean Christmas catalogue. (I only read magazines online, and I’ll bet many people are the same, these days. Blithely telling parents to let kids cut up magazines is not the safe bet it was in the 80s, I’m thinking). Anyway, I pointed to a picture of a man with a rucksack, standing in the snow. “Tell me about this guy,” I said. “Let’s start with his name.”
Together we worked it through, and he seemed to get it. Yesterday when he came home from school he cut a picture out of the same catalogue – a square-jawed fellow. And this is what he wrote (spelling and punctuation reproduced as written):
This is Matthew and his bike broke down so he is going to get his very best chestnet fleece-lined sweater so he could walk to work. He works at the vet his favorite aniamls to work with are puppys and Dogs. He lives in The City with his wife and three kids. The vet is a half-hour walk from where he lives.
I wonder what the teacher will make of that?
Anyway, I found myself explaining to him that in order to get good at writing, it’s like doing the front crawl (something he’s struggling with a bit) or riding a bike or even reading – you need to practice practice practice. Every day, if you can. And I silently thanked the universe for reinforcing the lesson for me, and I settled down to try again.