Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mommy Rule #326 "How Do We Eat an Elephant?" Homework, Procrastination and Catching-Up

Justin is fifteen, but he has called me twice a night for the last three nights.

Not because he is a momma's boy, which he is *smiles*, but because he felt overwhelmed and needed some direction. I am always Momlette to Justin, so I knew right away something was up when he said... "Mom, I'm just... I'm just soo... urgghhh...."

 "What's up son?"

"I have a whole buttload of schoolwork to do and I'm grounded until I get it done."

Justin you see, likes to procrastinate. A trait I am afraid he learned from his mother. It appeared that 26 assignments was the magic number as to what constitutes a "buttload." Even better, he had three days left in the term.Ouch.

"There is no way I am going to get all of this homework done, and they won't listen to me."  I can hear that tone rising in his voice, the one that is means he is about to launch into panic mode. Years of experience have taught me, don't push him past that point. Once you do, you have lost him.

You have to calm him down first, and come at it from his point of view. So, we step back and pull in Mommy Rule #326, How we eat an elephant.

First we calm down, then we define the problem. The problem is, Justin has always preferred play to work. The consequences are, he now has three days to fix it.

It is a bit harder to do from several hundred miles away than it was when he was here, but I finally convinced him to get all of his school work out and look at it. He needed to get a clear picture of how much work he really had to do, not just the inflated image he had in his mind.

He found nine homework assignments right away that were done, he just hadn't marked them off. In a matter of seconds his task had been reduced by a third. From there he figured the rest out on his own.

"If I divide them up... that only leaves only 5 assignments a day!"

I reminded them that he had done this on his own, as angry as he was about being grounded he was the only person who could fix it.

And he did...

He called me that night to tell me he had made it to his goal of 5 1/2 pages without trouble. He was really pleased with himself and I could hear it in his voice. We even had a few minutes to discuss our favorite topic of ultimate seriousness, Star Wars trivia.

The next night when he called, he was upset again. He had to keep working on his past due school work until it was done, nobody else would let him just do five assignments a day. I waited for him to calm down again. "How do you eat an elephant?" I asked him.

"One bite at a time.." he answered.

He was going to be grounded until the work was done either way, so stressing himself out over it was only hurting him. He brightened again. True, 11 pages still sounded like a lot, but the 5 he could handle. When he called me to check in later that night he was still right on target.

On the last night, I answered the phone to "Hey Momlett!" So I knew right away he was feeling better. "I was just calling for my nightly home work pep talk."

The elephant had grown smaller and smaller, and he was finally feeling confident again.

He knows I know these things because we both have ADHD brains, and what works for the rest of the world doesn't always work for us. It takes a lot more energy for us to accomplish tasks than most people because our brain is always looking for a distraction.

I know what a struggle it is for me to work from home with the chaos that is our life. I have no office, I just move from room to room trying to find a place I can be as distraction free as possible. The bed, the sofa, and more often still the bathroom floor. Even with only the two girls home it can be hard to find a place to allow that focus to sink in.So I totally get where he is coming from.

I have barely learned to fight the distractions over 40 years of practice, so it will take him some time.That is one area I have always been thankful for the co-parents support. Where I am a scatter-brain my co-mom is OCD quality organized. In the time Justin has been with her she has reined in a lot of the areas I struggled with. It's good to know you have support.

Happy Un-grounding Justin, next time - just start with the tail!

PS I got 80%


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