Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Reading, analyzing, answering questions, defining vocabulary - because I love to write so much there is a measure of joy for me in the homework that my daughter brings home from English class. There aren't that many places in day to day life where an in-depth understanding of literary devices is called for. It is a fun break to dive into analysis, comprehension, figurative language.

I learned a new one this week, one of my favorite devices in my own writing, a structure that I return to again and again -- asyndeton !

Biased Standards

So... my older daughter is turning out to be quite differently-abled. Even though she is super smart, these disorders are causing her to struggle with regular school in a way that we never, ever expected. Mothering her through the school day is non-stop exhaustion, with me working hard to support her from the moment I wake her up until we slog through our four or five hours of daily homework and re-teaching of concepts and drop into bed completely spent.

Time wise, it would be much more effective for me to simply home school her. In the five hours a day we spend doing required (often busy-) work, I could teach the equivalent of the 3.5 hours of instruction she gets in each subject each week. That would free up about nine hours per day for her. But, no, she wants to stay in school and do it the usual way. So on we persist.

This year, I've crossed a line. I've always helped her by doing her work with her, prompting her and guiding her to understand. Because of her speed difficulties, I've encouraged her to dictate work to me and I type it. But this year, as she drowns in Chemistry and flounders in math, I've taken over her English homework.

Just leave it to me, I said. I'll just do it for you so that the pressure is off there. And I did. I read all five short stories for the short story unit. I discussed them with her. I wrote the answers to the questions. I discussed those with her. It is actually a valid teaching method, a very good way of exposing someone to a literate mentality and bringing them along into it. The problem is... I'm only getting C's on the assignments.

Yep. C.

Thanks to my help, she is barely passing English.

Apparently, I forgot to double-space. Apparently, I did not adequately explain the function of literary devices. I'm like, look, lady, I USE literary devices on a daily basis.

Apparently, my bachelor's and master's degrees in English (where I had the top grades in the classes), my twelve years as a secondary English teacher, and my current career as a professional writer have all left me unable to successfully analyze literature. Hmm. Oh, and I forgot to double-space. (Because I do so much business writing where single-spacing is the gold standard.)

It's a little bit of karmic justice. A little bit of the absurd. It is a big dollop of the reality that grading is pretty darn arbitrary and that what an authority figure says about you or your work is not necessarily valid. Or predictive of actual life skills. In that, these low grades are a brilliant lesson for my daughter and reassurance for her not to take it all TOO seriously. Life has a way of working out despite what people say. :)

We've moved on now to To Kill a Mockingbird. My family is having great fun reading it aloud together and discussing it, really going over the concepts. I have slowly increased the effort I am putting into the Chapter reading check assignments. I've moved from a solid C to a B- and am edging my way up to a B+. I am routinely writing more than 1000 words per assignment, a level of work that in the real world would bring in $500- $2,000 in pay.

I hope to get an A some day.

Well Said!

Here is the refrain to my song today:
Life can be hard. A constant string of challenges and obstacles.
Find some moments that bring you joy.
Embrace them. Let them light the rest of your day.
Rest in the happy spots, like an oasis in the struggles.
( Hey, look at that. I have an off-rhyme ABBA pattern. Without even meaning to.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Autumn Arrival

I walked into the backyard earlier, and a single leaf floated down from the trees. It drifted past my face in a perfect spiral of autumn arriving. Finally, it feels like a new season.

The weather lately has been relentless. So hot and burning. Nonstop. Like the demands of life.

But now, there is a hint of chill in the air. A coolness like hope of things improving. Hang in there, everybody.

Just hang in there. The seasons will change. The obligations will ease. Autumn will come.