FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Dance Party

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 28•17

It had been a long day for all of us.

A homework battle, a struggle for D to get started and to stay focused on his one page of math and grammar, plus a writing graphic organizer and three-sentence introduction paragraph.

Plus, thirty minutes of reading.

We were all tired. Ooops!! L doesn’t like me to use that word–tired–even though it is a description of my mental and physical state on most days after teaching squirrelly 14-year-olds.

D whipped through the graphic organizer with his three reasons and three details for each reason, and he whizzed through writing the three-sentence introduction on his topic.

He likes to write–although it can often veerbetween real and imaginary–and his intro was about being kidnapped by an animatronic bear Nightmare from the Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Maybe, this is his writing style–his voice–though he may struggle with academic writing (thesis, evidence, explanations) in the future because of his preference for imaginary over real.

I like the writing homework. It is an chance to share what I’ve learned about writing with D, and the math (rounding to tens, hundreds, and thousands) is time to spend with D.

“You’re yelling at me like a Mad Man,” I overheard D say to L the other night when she was helping him with one part of his homework assignment.

She screams at me too if I interfere with him doing homework by himself.

My approach is different than hers. I like to make it light and easy, to banter a bit and, yes, to embrace the jagged process. Though I have to remind myself several times to be patient.

I tell ninth-graders every day to stay on task in my job as an English teacher, so my preference would be to not have to do this again at home–thus, the reminder to be patient.

Be patient.

This is the “brand” I want to be remembered by D: a patient dad who isn’t prone to fits of rage if his attention happens to momentarily drift away from a math problem.

Which it will.

Being patient is what works with nine or 14-year-olds, both of whom I’ve come to realize share common traits, like losing focus and tearing off the eraser nubs off the top of pencils.

Impatience will only escalate a situation to a toxic level, and that’s why I sit next to D on the sofa, to let him know I am with him in this task. This is just how I choose to do it.

And being this close to him in proximity not only provides a sense of comraderie, but it also allows me to redirect him if his mind does happen–which it will–go down a rabbit hole.

Sometimes, to break up the monotony of the homework, I even go off the grid with him to spice up the daily grind of grammar, math problems and writing (which has become his favorite).

So after D finished his introduction paragraph, I tell him about Steve Pressfield (War of Art) and Shawn Coyne (The Story Grid), and how Steve is a writer and Shawn is his editor, and Shawn’s job is to improve  his friend Steve’s writing.

“You are the writer, and I am the editor,” I say to D. “You be Steve and I will be Shawn. My job is to look for how to make your writing better.”

And after he finishes, I explain to him how “everyday” words in conversation can be replaced with more precise action or descriptive words, and he receives my input like a real writer.

His assignment was to use “sound” and “motion” words, so he changed said to murmured, goes to speeded, and added caw-caw in on his own, and then we shared his writing with L.

L said she thought his teacher would think his paragraph was too polished, but I explained it was an opportunity to share my knowledge on writing and to teach D about the revision process.

His writing did sound professional–though his handwriting is still a work in progress–but his homework never returned in his backpack, so I guess you will have to take my word on it.

After his homework was completed–this story is really about this moment–D cued up a catchy song with a fast tempo and beat on my phone, and a dance party broke out right there in the living room to a song from Sing.

D kicked his feet left, right, forward, and backwards, he executed a 360-degree spin move a few times, he nearly completed a few handstands, and his arms and legs moved rapidly for the duration of the entire song.

I joined D in the Dance Party as L cheered him on (“Do it again…Woo-hoo”, she said after his spin moves.), mimicing his moves except for the head stands, and by the end of the 4-minute song, we were sucking in air.

This is how we capped a Tuesday evening, and the homework saga, his writing style, our collaborative effort and the dance party, I thought all added up to…the Fourth Grade D.

The dance party infused my body with newfound energy, and a new appreciation of my son, and his wonderful, spontaneous spirit.

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