Archive for February 16th, 2013

Zippy’s Essay

Zippy does an amazing amount of screaming and yelling and chanting and hooting and hollering in the wee hours of the morning when the rest of us would really prefer a peaceful, quiet house. Seriously EVERY morning he yells and whoops and screeches. And literally EVERY morning, I remind him to quiet down.

I remind him it’s unkind. I remind him it’s annoying. I remind him that he’s making the people he loves the most feel more and more miserable by being so crazy and loud.

Not surprisingly, he doesn’t really seem to care.

Mind you, in the mornings he hasn’t yet had his meds that aid in his judgement. Some of it is out of his control, I’m willing to admit. But a good chunk of it is completely and totally purposeful and controlled.

I’ve tried griping. I’ve tried jumping jacks and laps and push ups. I’ve tried loss of privileges. I’ve tried grounding him. I’ve tried sending him to his room indefinitely. Nothing. works. at. all.

So yesterday I tried the dreaded all-afternoon-long essay threat. And after school, I delivered. I should note that it wouldn’t have taken all afternoon long if Zippy had just hushed and written it. But when you gripe, complain, question, tantrum, scream, and negotiate, it tends to cause the dreaded essay to actually take all afternoon long.

First, I explained the Prewriting section of his essay.

“Prewriting!!?? Why do I have to do prewriting!!??” he wailed and screamed and carried on. Bummer for Zippy, his mama used to be a writing teacher and knows all the steps to writing an essay.

The prewriting consisted of writing the names of his 4 family members who were affected by his actions. He was to list things he liked about each of them, things they each liked, and things they each disliked.

After a long while of freaking out and complaining and acting as though this prewriting assignment was above the realm of cruel and unusual punishment, he finally wrote. But what he brought to me was not things about his family and things they liked and didn’t like. It was one thing he liked about each, one thing they each liked and one thing they each disliked.

“Hmmmmmmmm. Sorry, but you didn’t follow my directions. Let’s try this again,” sympathized the mama.

More screaming and carrying on. More complaining.

Later, he brought me his prewriting:

I like Dad because he’s funny and likes to tell jokes. Dad doesn’t like McDonald’s or Little Ceasars. Dad likes Subway and Chikfila.

I like Mom because she likes to cuddle and give kisses. She doesn’t like Chikfila and Five Guys. She likes McDonalds and Little Ceasars.

I like Chloe because she does what I tell her to do and when I ask her to give me something she always says yes. She doesn’t like peanuts or Chikfila. She likes pudding and jello.

I like Elliot because he plays with me and he’s funny. He likes Chikfila and Little Ceasars. He doesn’t like McDonalds and jalepenos.

Ok, obviously, the above was written by my food-loving son. He was a bit focused on calorie consumption, it seems. Oh well.

I then explained that he needed to take these prewriting thoughts and use them in his essay. I wrote the introduction paragraph for him and the ending paragraph for him. He was to write the family member paragraphs in the middle. He would end up with a 6 paragraph essay.

Again, after some time of freaking out and screaming and acting as though he were in a torture chamber, he set to writing. And later brought me his finished essay. (Notice he used none of his prewriting ideas … odd. All new thoughts, which I guess makes complaining about a prewriting activity make sense. If you’re going to use the ideas you wrote in your finished product, then prewriting makes sense. But if the prewriting assignment is a completely unrelated essay, then maybe it’s worth complaining about! Ha!)

I love my family. I can show them that I love them by respecting them. I can respect them by doing things that bless them and not doing things that bother them.

I like Elliot because he’s a good brother. He helps me with my homework when I need it. He helps me with sports, too.

The thing I like about Chloe is that she is a good sister. She cries when I get an asthma attack.

The thing I like about Mom is that she helps me with asthma and she stays up all night with me if I need to.

The thing I like about Dad is that he breaks the law and lets me sit in shotgun.

I love Mom, Dad, Chloe, and Elliot. I want to bless them and will work hard to be a blessing.

(Ok, so the Dad-breaking-the-law-by-letting-me-sit-in-the-front-seat thing needs to be addressed. Other than that … some sweet thoughts.)

And so ended the essay writing assignment. Mama is certainly willing to use it again real soon — even though a bedroom got destroyed and an entire package of notebook paper got torn up in the process. It’s all part of the learning process, right?

“Hmmmmmmm. Bummer. Now you owe me money so I can replace the notebook paper. Oh, and how sad. Now you have to spend another 30 minutes fixing your bedroom instead of playing outside. Bummer,” recited his sympathetic Mama.

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