Friday, January 28, 2011

Procrastination is genetic

On early mornings when Jessa does not want to wake up, she asks me, "Mommy, why did you even sign me up for school? I changed my mind!" And I always laugh and say, "Silly girl, you have to go to school." And then she whips out the argument, "You could home school me." To which I laugh and say, "Uh, I don't think so." I am keenly aware of the fact that home school is not an option. I am not knocking it. I know it works for some people. But I also know that it would not work for us. Thus, she is in public school, and even though mornings are hard, she is overall pretty happy. And until very recently, I was pretty glad that I "signed her up."
At the beginning of January, her teacher told the class that their big assignment for the month would be to write a book. Her school has a Young Author's Program that requires every student to submit a book that they have written and illustrated. The requirements are different for each grade, based on their skills and abilities. This year, Miss Jessa's book had to be 3-5 pages with 1-3 sentences per page and one illustration per page. The rest was up to her.

When she came home with the assignment, she was thrilled, tickled, excited, FULL of ideas. We started talking about it right away trying to narrow her many thoughts. She finally chose her characters based on some of her favorite stuffed animals. She was all ready to go. Only she was easily distracted and not too focused at all. That's OK, I thought. She has the whole month. Then I tried again to get her interested. She'd do it later. She wanted to sled before the snow melted. She was tired. She had a spelling test to study for. You know, the busy life of a 7 year old! Who has time to write books, right??
So finally last weekend about a week before this sucker was due, I put my foot down and told her she had to sit down until she came up with a rough draft. She could not leave the table. Period. Well, of course, then came a bathroom emergency, extreme hunger and thirst, spilled drink on her pants from quenching the aforementioned extreme thirst, the need for dry pants because the wet ones made her "miserable." Then there was Spencer. He was talking, which distracted her. He was laughing, which distracted her. He was chewing, which distracted her. He was breathing, which, yep, distracted her. Then I made her nervous or I was too loud. The dogs were distracting. She was too cold. You name it, and it was bothering her no end. After about 2 hours, she FINALLY had a rough draft. She came up with the characters all on her own. 5 of them. 5 main characters for a 3-5 page story. I suggested that maybe that was a lot, Jessa cried because she loved all 5 characters. Fine, I said. 5 it is.

Then on Monday, I told her it was time to recopy the story neatly on the papers for her book. And so began the longest week of my life. This child has cried and screamed and ran to her room and called my poor Momma more times than I can count. Y'all she could have written War and Peace with the effort that she put into procrastinating this week. She has fought me every step of the way. I called my parents to apologize for every project that I was assigned ever. NOW I feel their pain. And the worst part, SHE IS ONLY IN FIRST GRADE. Oh heavens, I am not sure I can make it.

I can also tell you that my otherwise precious child comes by this tendency quite honestly. I have always been a procrastinator - only I have learned how to cope with this throughout my years. So I know all too well that my sweet girl has to figure this out on her own. No matter how many times I say the words, "Jessa, you could have been finished by now." She doesn't get it. She can't. And I KNOW this because I was her. And it took me figuring it out for myself. And someday, she will figure it out, too. I just hope I live to see it. . .;-)

Want to see her book?
Oh, and I asked her, "Someday when you are a famous author and you are being interviewed on TV about your fabulous books, will you tell this story? About how you owe all your success to me because of how hard I had to fight you to get you to write your first book?" And that little stinker said, "No! When my fans find out how mean I was to my Mom, they won't want to buy my book anymore." I guess at least she realizes how mean she was, right??


Niki said...

it makes me think of when I do procrastinate. its still hard to overcome but i'm getting there. hehehe.
your cute story has me smiling. God bless to your family. :)

Tara said...

What a cute story! Makes me excited for when Ben has assignments like that! This blog entry was quite similar to last year's homemade valentine's post!! :)