Friday, June 08, 2007

Five Things I’d Like To Do This Summer

1. Help my risk-averse daughter get her driver’s license. She’s 17 and had the behind-the-wheel teacher from hell. It scared her off of driving for several months, and then she started driving with hubs, a person organically deprived of patience because of his ADHD. They were driving in snowy, icy weather, and had some very slippery, sliding encounters with the pavement. The best experience they had was when hubs had her driving around a church parking lot and had her deliberately go into a slide. They wound up stuck deeply into a snow bank at the edge of the parking lot. Fortunately, a wedding was just ending so they were rescued by men in tuxedos. So, the sum total, as my daughter wryly puts it, of her experience of learning of drive with Dad, is that if you get in trouble, you’ll be rescued by men in tuxes.

It’s probably also somewhat my fault that both my driving age kids are so cautious behind the wheel. I have no doubt that on more than one sleep-deprived day whilst driving them all somewhere in the momvan, I pulled to the side of the road as a result of their rambunciousness and hollered, “I’m steering a thousand pounds of rolling, steel death here! Can you please quit pulling the wings off of each other and be quiet?” I’m guessing that kind of yelling would have a lingering effect.

Anyway, I figure I’ll take Bunny out on the deserted country roads and let her learn the mechanics and techniques of merely driving until she has more confidence and skill and then we’ll try some encounters with traffic. That worked OK with Spawn, so I can only hope.

2. Hang out near water. That probably doesn’t sound like much of a goal. I do live near a river, but I don’t like it. It’s a stinky river, and it’s busy with boaters who drink and holler, and jetskiers who drink, holler and vroom. I’m thinking of something more along the lines of both a largish lake and at least an overnight stay. I need to stare at a large body of water for a little while. It’s very calming on the one hand, and invigorating on the other. Plus, it would be a nice change of pace from thinking about my sandy, weedy yard.

3. Speaking of weeds, I’d like to cut the big ones down. We get a lot of mulberry and Siberian elm hopefuls, and I really want to cut them down and poison their stumps to discourage them. We have a big yard, so it could conceivably take me a summer to conscientiously get rid of all of them. I think it’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – I get all the way to the other end and then have to start over again.

4. Yarn Crawl! It’s in the works with my small cadre of sister knitters from Chix, and we’re hoping to head north at the end of the month and work our way back south from yarn store to yarn store, fondling the fuzzies and critiquing the patterns along the way. There will, perhaps, be girl food midday.

5. Work with Doodle on learning to write on demand. The kid is brilliant in mathematics and science – always in the 99th percentile, but put him in front of an on the spot essay or extended response demand and he reacts as if someone had hit him with a “Petrificus Totalis” spell – locks right up, his brain frosts over, and you’d swear that if inertia weren’t working for him, he’d topple right to the floor and shatter like glass once he landed. He now has a “thing” about it, an aversion that kicks in because he’s had problems with this particular situation for so long, and the aversion is part of the problem. He does work well with a planned strategy or the literary equivalent of a formula, and I’ve looked up a few on the web, mostly from colleges. He’s going to have to take the SAT when he applies to IMSA, so he’ll need this skill, at least to some extent. It’s not that I have a desire for him to become a wonderful writer; I want to help him get past the blockage and be able to write a modestly acceptable response. Wish me luck.

Have a great weekend!


Amber in Albuquerque said...

I'm not sure how far you want to go to 'hang out', but Lake Quinault in Washington State (on the Olympic peninsula, I think) is amazing.

Good luck w/the driving (my boys are still really small...7 and 4) and with the writing. Perhaps he simply needs to be trained to set aside the inner editor until the thoughts are on paper (or on the computer). I have found that those who are good in math and science are (usually) fairly logical beings, which tends to make for pretty decent writing (well organized even on the first draft). (I do have a brilliant Navajo colleague who is an exception to this rule, but that may be because English isn't his first language and, in my understanding, the Navajo language sort of 'talks around' the subject rather than being direct.) I'm sure your son (because he's your son) has a great vocabulary. Maybe he can be trained to 'blurt first, edit later.' My guess is that even the unedited blurt will be better than at least 75-80% of the crap most kids write.

Susan said...

Re: writing on demand, my 11th grader had a big problem with that a few years ago. In ninth grade his English teacher handed the kids a writing prompt every day and gave them three minutes to write the first few sentences that came into their heads. That seemed to free him up somewhat.

The other thing that helped was to convince him that the graders didn't care what his opinions were and they weren't judging the appropriateness of his "favorites," they just wanted to see if he could construct a logical, readable paragraph. He had gotten really hung up on thinking that he had to pick the correct opinion.

BoS said...

Thank you both, I'll try getting him to just write something, and using a prompt is a good idea, too.