OK, so maybe I'm a little crazy. I have assigned both boys essays as part of their punishments when they have veered wildly off course with bad behavior and even worse decisions (Claire hasn't had to opportunity to veer wildly off course yet so there hasn't been a need to assign her an essay...yet). The essays need to be typed, double spaced, grammatically correct, well thought out and well written. The papers have to be able to get achieve the grade of A, as reviewed by me.
Lucas has had a six page essay looming over his head since his misdeeds at school last May. It started out as five pages but because he erased it off the chalkboard station in our kitchen (where I try to maintain lists of what needs to be accomplished) and then told friends that he didn't have to write it anymore I increased the page total to six. All of his privileges have not yet been restored because I didn't have the essay in my hand. His iPod and Facebook remain off limits until the essay is in my hand. Stan thinks I should just give up but Lucas and I are both stubborn Scorpios so this is a test in mental mettle. I think I've almost won. Lucas is finally ready to get his privileges back so the essay was given to me last night.
Today, I became the editor in chief wielding my red pen with great relish. I gave Lucas six different, yet similar topics, to "discuss" in his paper. I wanted a little cohesion between the topics but I wasn't looking for a regurgitation of the different topics from page to page. As I read through his paper, I see more regurgitation and less cohesion. But in Lucas' defense...he has never written any kind of paper before. In his eight years of schooling his teachers have never once assigned a paper or a book report to him. He has no idea how to write, what to write or how to engage his "audience" aka...me. So the editor has to become the teacher...he and I have some work to do.
I did ask him if I could post his essay on my blog once it is perfectly polished. He said yes, reluctantly, but maybe once it has "hooks" to draw you in at the beginning of the topic and flows within the body of the paper he will look at it with pride and want you to see what he has written. We will see how it goes. I know I'm going to get some push-back today when he gets home from school and he sees the river of red on his paper, but for me, for now, the essay is no longer about fulfilling part of a punishment. The essay has become a way for me to help Lucas become a proficient writer ~ a writer who can crank out term papers and book reports in high school and college. This essay is the perfect way to work on those skills.
So, maybe I'm not as crazy as I think I am for assigning essays as part of a punishment. Knowing how to write a paper is a necessary evil...so I guess I should switch my role from being a little crazy for assigning essays to being the necessary part of the evil. And for my next trick I will teach Lucas how to read and write in cursive (somehow he missed that lesson too!)...yet another necessary evil. I'll let you know how that one goes. As for the essay, I hope you can see parts, if not all, of it someday soon.
Oh, for the love of my children....