Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just. Slow. Down.

The other night A came down to me with tears in his eyes.  It was after bedtime, and I'm sure he had been upstairs, laying in his bed, unable to sleep.  He is absolutely a night owl, so this is not unusual.  But this night he was worried.  They were doing a cursive worksheet at school, and apparently he had not finished it.  He was to finish it at home, but forgot it at school.  He was very concerned that he would get in trouble or get a "yellow sticker" in his planner.  He hates the yellow stickers.

My A has some school issues that I have addressed briefly before in this blog.  This year I haven't heard as much about it, but I know the issues are still there.  Hopefully he's growing and improving, but there are definitely still concerns.  And since the teachers are aware of his "quirks", I feel like sometimes it's perfectly fine to ask for some special consideration.  I wrote an e-mail to his teacher, as A was standing next to me in his jammies, asking for him to be given some extra time to finish his cursive worksheet in the morning, as I knew he had forgotten it at school.  My goal was to put A's mind at ease and to hopefully avoid the dreaded yellow sticker.  The yellow sticker is just a shout out to the parents that the kid is missing something, by the way.  Homework or a book or whatever.  But A looks at them as personal failures.

Anyway, his teacher got back to me promptly and said that would be fine, and also let me know that they have started doing larger multiplication problems--two digits multiplied by two digits--and that A seems to be struggling with it quite a bit.  He was sending home a sheet of problems, and asked if I could spend some time working on it with him.

So last night after we got all settled down and he watched his episode of whatever on whatever station it is that he's watching these days, we sat down at the table.  He was all excited because he had finished his worksheet on the bus, all but one problem.  So I sat down at the table and looked over the problems, and erased the mistakes to work on them with him.  There were 12 problems.  He got two perfect.

This may seem pretty poor, but A is a different kind of kid.  Instead of me seeing 10 problems that were not done correctly, I saw not only two that were, but I saw that the nine he had attempted at were done correctly, he had just made small mistakes in his calculations that messed up his answers.  That was HUGE to me.  Not long ago, just teaching him the process of doing these long problems would have been nearly impossible.  He was having major problems learning things that required more than two steps.  And with these, you have to multiply first the two numbers in the top number by the "ones" digit in the bottom number, remembering to carry numbers and add them in as you go, but then you have to write in your zero.  Then you cross out the "ones" number that you're done with.  Then you multiply the "tens" digit by the two digits in the top number.  Remembering to carry the numbers and add them in.  Then you add the whole thing together.  All the while, remembering to line up your numbers correctly.  It's actually a much larger job than I think we remember.

And he did the whole process.  In most of the problems, he missed an addition calculation, sometimes by forgetting to add the carried number, or else he wrote a "4" too sloppy and misinterpreted it for a "9", or whatever, but he got it.  He got the process.  And to me, it was a very major accomplishment.

I said to him, "A, you need to slow down."  Seriously, it seemed to me like that was the biggest problem.  If he could just slow down.  Focus on each step.  Write more slowly and carefully.  He would have had them all correct.  Just.  Slow.  Down.  But inside, I was THRILLED with his progress.  I can't make too much of a big deal to him in front of him, because I don't want him to think I'm surprised that he can do it.  I just made sure he knew I was proud of him.

I promised him he could have a fudgesicle when he finished his homework.  So right when he was done, he popped up to go to the refrigerator, and promptly tripped on his way into the kitchen, falling on the floor and stubbing his toe.  I just looked at  him, shaking my head.  He does that stuff all the time.  It would appear that his life would be so much better in general if he would just slow down.  With everything.

This morning we ran through is spelling words.  And he got them all right.  I don't know what he'll do on his test today, but at home he got them right.  So he knows them, somewhere in his head.  I guess that's all that matters, somehow.  My baby's growing up.  And he's going to be fine.


  1. YAY!!! Great job A!!! :) What an awesome Mom you are by the way!

  2. If it helps at all, your story is a very familiar one. Even to a 16 year old - slow down and check your answers. But they are kids and kids don't want to do homework. Well, most kids. What stands out to me is that he is learning the way we learned! I would have loved for that to be the case w/ the boys. Instead they learn this weird way I had a heck of time helping them with. But now that I read your post I realized something - they way they had to do it kept everything lined up. Well, if they slowed down and took their time that is.

  3. I gotta quit coming to your blog. I wind up with tears in my eyes about 90% of the time, you damned monkey.Stop being an awesome mom and making me lose it over my morning tea!