Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Jesi's World...

Tonight was a bit tough for Jesi. She was working on her 2nd grade math homework when I came up and started trying to help her out. She actually does very well in math. I'm quite proud of her. In fact, what I was trying to help her with was the way she was holding her pencil. As a child, my parents were quite emphatic about helping us have good handwriting. I was taught the correct way to hold a writing utensil and the the correct way to form each letter. I believe this was more emphasized in school back in those days as well.

Watching one of my children write with an awkward grip is a bit difficult for me, so I try to encourage them to do it correctly. (I am coming to terms with the fact that my grandchildren may not even learn to write at all. Everything may be voice activated at that point, or keyboarding may be the only important skill. So I sometimes wonder if there's any real value to teaching my children a dying art form. But old habits die hard...) Anyway, I was very patient with her. I kindly talked to her about how it would be easier to write neatly if she would hold her pencil correctly. She was NOT happy with me. At first she flat out refused to make the change. Five years ago, that would have likely been met with an outburst from me. But I have grown up a bit as I have grown up. So I gently explained that sometimes she has to do something she doesn't want to do, just because Dad says to do it. She glared at me for several seconds, then stood up and went into her bedroom. She didn't throw a tantrum or slam doors, but she was obviously unhappy with me.

I followed and explained that marching off in frustration is not an appropriate response to your dad (although in retrospect, it's a lot better than if she were yelling at me, so maybe I just need to count my blessings!). Eventually we patched things up and she came back in and really made an effort to hold her pencil correctly. I was quite proud, and she was still able to write very neatly, despite this new technique.

She finished her math homework and asked me to check it. Most of it was correct. Then we got to a section where she had to write equations in different ways. One option was to reverse the sides of the equation (223-132=91 is the same as 91=223-132.) But instead of just switching the sides of the equation, she looked at it like a mirror image (223-132=91 is the same as 91=132-223). I tried to explain to her that this didn't work. I told her that by doing this she was trying to subtract a larger number from a smaller number. She just couldn't grasp the concept. She insisted that her way was right. She told me that Mrs. Miller (her 1st grade teacher) had taught her that this was the correct way to do it. Finally, I figured out how to help her get it. I had her write out the subtraction problem vertically and then solve it. When she did it my way, she got 91. When she did it her way, she realized that it didn't work. She re-wrote the answers the correct way.

As a satisfied teacher who had helped his student see the light I asked Jesi, "Do you get it now? Do you see why you have to keep the order of these numbers the same?" Jesi looked up at me with her cute contemplative look and said, in all seriousness, "In my world, the other way is still right!"

Dear, dear Jess, how I love your world. How grateful I am that the good Lord has blessed me with increased patience over the past several years so I was able to help you without getting frustrated. And how grateful I am that the entire experience, while difficult for you to go through until the light came on, was a positive and loving memory between us. Jessica, your world is a special place. Keep inviting me in!:)




  1. Can I come in too?? Love it! :)

  2. Morning Bro - I so feel your pain - and I so share your joy! I've often said that I did a huge dis-service being so young as a parent to our older three - I've grown up so much over the years...and sometimes I wish I could have some do overs back then...

    And ya know - DeCartes and Einstein were considered foolish and even stupid - all because they did things "in their own world" - I like Jess's too!

    And thanks for sharing a Dad's insight into life - you 'get it'.

    love you guys - continue in a like and similar fashion - hugs -

    aus and co.

  3. I wish we all lived in Jesi's world! Seems most inviting!

  4. I appreciate the love and patience in this post--so heart-warming! BTW, I tried a new trick with one of my kiddos yesterday for holding a pencil correctly. Have them hold a piece of tissue paper (like a square of toilet paper or half a Kleenex) with their pinky and ring finger folded over it. Then have them hold the pencil with their remaining two fingers and thumb. It totally corrected it--hurray!! :)

    1. I am so excited! I love this idea. I will try it tonight:)