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Best Pet at Home

Being as I’m so precise when it comes to homework, I’ve been trying to find ways to make homework time more fun and less drudgery-ish for the kiddos.

So when one kiddo started getting writing assignments, I decided to sit and write with him. And not just my own thing. Oh no. We read the directions together and we follow them together.

That’s correct. I’m doing my kiddo’s homework assignment as well.

First, the instructions introduce the topic and then call for the student to state their opinion clearly. Secondly, the writer must justify that opinion with reasons. Finally, we are also reminded (admonished?) that we must include an introduction and a conclusion, all while using linking words, whatever those are.

The first time we did this was a bit rough, because I made him re-write his composition due to poor planning and profound illegibility issues. I made him re-do the assignment on a fresh piece of paper, my thinking being he’d re-write it, get his thoughts in order, and then transfer the effort neatly onto the homework sheet. Make him write it enough times and maybe, just maybe, he’d be incentivized to do it right the first time.

(Ha!)

My son is a bit lazy, and as we all know, lazy is the father of ingenuity and invention. He decided we should just tape the paper with the writing onto the homework sheet and forgo an additional round of writing.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In fact, it’s resting against the trunk, putting off a lot of body heat and making me uncomfortably warm. Which is to say, I’m lazy too, and not wanting to endure the nuclear hissy fit of wailing and gnashing of teeth that would ensue if I refused, I rolled with his suggestion.

And once done, we read our creations to each other, followed, of course, by a standing ovation (from the dog, who looked a little confused to be standing on its hind legs while I forced its front legs together and apart over and over all the while bellowing, “Bravo! Bravo!”).

No nasty note from the teacher was sent home, so we’ve decided that our approach is OK. Or at least acceptable.

(Though this is the same kiddo who forgets to bring homework, report cards, library books, backpacks, his sibling home from school on a regular basis, so I might be setting myself up for a truly horrific parent/teacher conference in the near future.)

The dog, however, may be sending a different message, as it now hides from us whenever a backpack crosses its line of vision.

Tonight’s session started on the fresh piece of paper. The kiddo entirely skipped the part where he artfully applied vaguely letter-shaped scribbles to the homework sheet. Instead he demanded a clean piece of lined paper and wrote about the Best Pet at Home. And added a drawing of his preferred pet at the bottom for extra credit.

First of all, turtles are eseay to watch.

In my opinion we should have a turtle.

Since I’m not willing to make my child suffer something I am not willing to suffer myself, I cranked out a short paragraph of my own. So here, for your reading pleasure, is my virtuoso effort to describe the best pet at home.

I did not include a picture with mine. I did enlarge the font to more accurately portray my use of large letters to make my treatise look longer. Old school habits die-hard…

Snails are fascinating creatures and well worth consideration as a family pet. First of all, their spiral shells are an excellent hypnosis aid (handy if you have rowdy kids). Secondly, they are very slow, so if they run away, they won’t get far before you find them. Finally, they don’t eat much and so are inexpensive to keep. In conclusion, snails are the perfect pet for a family of limited resources.

Suck it, Herman Melville. Whales make terrible pets, you idiot!

 

 
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Posted by on 8 March 2017 in Art!, Life, Parenting, Writing

 

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You Don’t Have To Be Precise

“You know you don’t have to be precise, Dad.”

My kids say this to me at least four times a week. Reproachfully. The guaranteed times are every evening after they finish their homework (Monday – Thursday nights) and are forced to endure my returning it to them with the mistakes highlighted.

They don’t like this, as they’d prefer that once the homework is done, it’s done.

Actually, they’d prefer not to do the homework at all, but as I constantly remind them, life isn’t fair.

Often the return of this flawed homework is accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

They get pretty upset too.

I’m not helped in my push for “getting it right” when one kiddo defiantly informs me that his teacher has said “It doesn’t have to be precise.” This attribution to the teacher may be true, but that doesn’t sway me.

So homework takes about four times as long as it needs, and becomes a dreadful anticipation every evening after dinner.

At first, because they don’t want to do it. Then, once they are doing it, they are stunningly inefficient about it, interrupting each other, stopping to do a song and/or dance, or claiming such a state of dehydration that if they don’t get something to drink (preferably with chocolate in it), they will die. Literally die.

Then, once it’s done and handed to me, Stage 2 begins. Errors are found and pointed out, sheets of paper handed back, and at this point the stomping begins. Angry stomps that, because they are so young and low mass, are almost comical in their lack of resonance and inspiration of dread.

But laughing is a mistake, because then you get the glares. The angry, I-swallowed-a-black-hole-and-now-my-face-is-screwing-up-in-a-rictus-of-indignation-and-unspeakable-pain glares.

Laughing now is a mistake too, no matter how tempting. For they have been dealt a terrible injustice that they are powerless to fight.

Show your work?

Answer correctly?

What poppycock!

But this weekend, one of the kiddos asked me a question while we were driving, and after I answered, he said, “You don’t have to be precise, Dad.”

Apparently I’d gone into too much detail. A failing I am prone to, I do admit. If I can give a long answer or a short answer to any question, I invariably choose the overly detailed response.

But it was strange hearing this admonition on a non-homework night, which got me to thinking.

Do I, in actual fact, have to be precise? (Probably not)

Indeed, is it possible I am too precise? (Yes)

Why am I precise? (Excellent question!)

And I had a sudden, obvious epiphany.

You see, in real life, I earn my paycheck by being an engineer. A metrology engineer.

What’s a metrology engineer?

I measure things. Most of the time, very small things. VERY small things.

(Cue genitalia jokes)

Very small things that have nothing to do with biology.

And it dawned on me, as I was driving, that my job requires me to be precise. It’s sort of the definition of what I do.

I’d often wondered how I had fallen into this particular day job. I’d studied Engineering in school, but if you’d told me, even as late as my senior year in college, that I’d grow up to be a metrology engineer, I would have said, “A what?”

And then sucker-punched you for insulting me.

(As a nerdy engineer-type, the only fighting I do is dirty since in a fair, you-know-it’s-coming fight, it’s far too easy to stop it from coming and then beat the pulp out of me. I prefer my pulp stay where it belongs – inside me.)

Heck, I was 2+ years into my career before the focus narrowed on metrology. Prior to that, it was a lot of stuff which happened to include some metrology.

But then, suddenly, I was the Metrology Engineer. And now, many, many years later, I still am.

And so the epiphany I had was that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t fall into metrology by accident.

Maybe, being a ‘precise’ person by nature, I moved into it deliberately without realizing it.

Which means I was doomed destined for this career all along. That who we are truly does define us, even when we don’t know it.

And that is why I now fervently hope neither of my kids is douchy. Cause given what I think I just figured out, that would be bad.

 
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Posted by on 17 January 2017 in Life, Parenting

 

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