It was a tough weekend. My first weekend with the boys by myself. That wasn’t the tough part. I’ve had several weekends with just the boys. I’ve had several weeks with just the boys. And I was thrilled to be able to take them places and do things with them and not pretend I was friends with their father. The tough part was Tornado E had a HUGE book report project due Monday.
When I was a kid, my mom took special interest in our schooling. She pushed us and challenged us. She helped us with our homework, studying, and projects, but she never did them for us. She would set up a timeline and help us plan and organize our projects. Just imagine the tears, the yells, the screams, the words, the temper tantrums. But it helped us. I held onto that organizing skill into college, where I promptly left it outside. Except for reading, I always planned out my reading because I’m a slow and careful reader. Projects, papers, and stories were always written days, sometimes hours, in advance. Only now am I more mature to be grateful and use that planning/organizing skills my mom forced into my head.
I want my boys to have those skills too. I make Tornado E read his book report books weeks in advance. I have him write a rough draft two weekends out, and we plan out projects, doing a little every day. All written reports are done the weekend before the due date, even if the due date is Friday. We just have too much to do on the weekday to leave these things up to the chance he won’t be too tired to work on it after his homework is done.
And I also get I’m the Bad Cop. I hate being the Bad Cop, the Task Master, The Drill Sergeant, The Ultimate Authority to Be Obeyed At All Costs. Ok, I like the last title a little bit. I know that it’s my responsibility to drag these boys across the finish line if I have to, and it’s up to me to get them to do their homework, teach them responsibility and organization, and to correct them when they make a mistake. The ex wants to be liked by the boys; he doesn’t have the patience to sit at the table for (what feels like) hours to make sure everyone has done their homework and has done it correctly. He doesn’t see the point of spreading projects across a few weeks. He only remembers his high school career when his parents stayed out of his life and he relied on his wits to ace tests. (Good test takers are annoying- so says the kid who had to learn everything with sweat, blood, and tears.)
I don’t know why I was surprised to look over Tornado E’s rough draft to find it half done and half wrong. He had spent the last weekend at his dad’s for his first visit. Of course, it was going to be tons of fun and games. The ex had to roll out the red carpet for his first weekend. I shouldn’t have been surprise. The weekend before Tornado E’s last book report was due I was out of town, leaving Tornado E and the ex to finish the project. I left them with the fun and easy stuff, which was copying the rough draft and collecting objects to illustrate the book. The ex took the boys out to a resort for the weekend, dropping them off with my parents early Sunday morning. My mom took charge of the project and got Tornado E to finish it that morning. I shouldn’t have been surprised because I already knew Tornado E hadn’t done his reading, so why would I assume this was done?
Due to Tornado E being sick Friday, we started Saturday morning after breakfast. I read what Tornado E wrote and knew despair. Putting on a cheerful manner, I set Tornado E down to have him start copying down the things he did know as I read through the book, thinking what an idiot I was for not reading the book sooner. As I read, he caught up on his writing, and I started him on coloring and working out the game board he had to build for the project. We worked on it until naptime, when we switched gears to do half his reading. We stopped early for a well-needed break to go to a couple of parties. Thank goodness because it might have been the only fun we had.
Sunday we were back on it again. We worked together as I prodded him along. We argued over what to include. (You will NOT do the minimum.) I wrote out his thoughts and showed him how to organize them. (Mommy, is that an “o?” You have horrible handwriting.) I read him parts of the book to refresh his memory and to make him laugh. We watched a little Simpson’s to illustrate infrared cameras. I would leave him to his writing to make the younger boys clean up the unholy mess they made of the family room. Tornado E and I built the game board together. He laid out the design and wrote directions, and I drew him lines to write on and pasted the pieces. We finished just after dinner.
It was a tough weekend. Tornado E never did his chores. We never had a movie or video game time. We didn’t get to do the art project I had planned. We didn’t do anything fun just the four of us. I spent a lot of time focusing on Tornado E. I wish the weekend was more balanced between fun and work.
I’m proud of Tornado E. He worked hard. He put a lot of effort into it. He’s one tough kid.