The Meeting

Last week, I went to a parent-teacher conference at Me First’s school. I had a chance to express some of my concerns about his lack of attention span/hyper focus, forgetfulness, etc. Her reaction was pretty much to just laugh it off.

Okay, that isn’t exactly what I was going for, but….

So maybe it isn’t such a big deal? I dunno. I’m feeling more confused than ever.

She did, however, have me some good ideas. We’ve been s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g with homework. (I’m struggling just to spell “struggling,” actually. The bad thing about autocorrect is you have to start at least somewhere near the actual spelling of the word to get it to work for you.) The second graders have been doing double digit addition, where you carry the one. I acknowledge that this is a totally useful skill, until you get a cell phone with a calculator and never have to carry the one ever again.

Every day they have been getting twenty math problems for homework. That’s the big two zero, folks. That’s like a twenty minutes worth of homework for that one sheet, not to mention the daily kanji and reading. Translate that into seven-year-old time and it’s like a gazillion minutes of homework.

Of course if seven-year-olds would just do the damn homework instead of fiddling with their pencil boxes and desecrating their erasers and begging for snacks and fighting with their sisters, maybe it wouldn’t take so long. Or be so excruciatingly painful. I have to constantly stop myself from screaming

Carry the one! Carry the godd@mn one! Just carry it already!

But anyway.

Teacher suggested telling him he only had to do twenty minutes worth, but that he had to really concentrate for those twenty minutes. That seems to help with the tug-of-war to get him to start the homework, at least. I’ve been setting the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, and stopping it when he loses concentration. Hopefully he’ll learn to stay on task. Then I let him stamp my inkan on a progress chart. The inkan makes it seem official, I guess.

I’ve also moved the English homework to the morning, when he is bright-eyed and bushy tailed. For English, I’m only aiming for ten minutes. He doesn’t hate it as much as math, although he isn’t exactly used to the new routine yet, but in ten minutes he can get quite a bit done. The English worksheets allow for so much more creativity than the Japanese homework. I don’t know if it’s the difference in systems or the difference in teachers, but his English homework has him making up sentences with new vocabulary words (which he usually likes) while his school homework is copying a sentence made by the teacher that contains a new kanji. Brain numbing, right?

I’ve moved Me Too’s English homework to the morning as well, after Brother leaves for school. I set the timer for her since she wants to do things the same way as him, but some days she can’t concentrate for ten minutes and other days I have to stop her after twenty so we have time to get ready for school.

Doing that in the morning means that laundry and dishes and exercising have to wait until after I take Me Too to school, but so be it.

Anyhooo

Her Majesty the Teacher also mentioned that Me First hasn’t been playing outside during recess. “Perhaps he prefers to play by himself,” she mused. I told her that all of his friend’s just happen to be in the other class this year, and that he had asked one boy to be his friend who had told him 嫌だよ, to F off, basically. That shocked him, and I think he’s temporarily put off making friends.

I mentioned this to HRH, and he lost it. It was all my fault, according to him, since I don’t “let” Me First have friends over.

Pause.

That is so not true.

To have friends over, Me First has to ask them to come over. He doesn’t do that. I only know one of the moms from his class, not very well I might add, and Brother doesn’t seem to be too interested in playing with that particular little boy. Not to mention the b@stard who lives downstairs complains about our regular noise. When we have friends over he goes berserk.

But being the long suffering wife that I am, I called and invited the classmate over. I don’t have any connections in the class, either, so I wanted to get to know the mom better. This particular kid has two little brothers. So three rowdy little boys invaded our house on Monday afternoon. They had a great time, but made a terrible mess.

I told HRH ahead of time the house would probably be a wreck and dinner would be whatever I could throw together after hosting the hoards that afternoon, but that evening he still bitched about the mess and lack of gourmet fare. So I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I imagine my first instinct, to leave the friend-making to the children, was probably the correct one.

On Wednesday a little girl from Sister’s class came over, and I swear they didn’t move much for two hours. They still managed to make a horrible mess, but with less running and without pretending to be zombies.

Go fig.

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