Monday, September 3, 2007

How To Be a Slacker Prepared

The countdown to school begins. We now have less than 48 hours to the first day of school and preparations are proceeding at a fevered pitch.

The Girl has started out well. She is organizing all her notebooks and folders well ahead of time, even preparing labels for each section of her mega-binder so that all homework and class worksheets can be placed in their rightful category. To watch her, one can't help but be impressed with her organizational skills and her responsible approach to schoolwork.

However, school often starts this way. It doesn't take long to degenerate into a mad search in the evening for the math worksheet and hastily placed phone calls to classmates wondering if they know which words she is supposed to study for the vocabulary quiz. I have had teachers tell me of homework that arrives crumpled with chocolate fingerprints and other,less easily identified stains. Other work may still be damp from having been placed under her wet bathing suit in her backpack. Books needed at school are left at home, books needed for homework are left at school. Miscellaneous items are scattered throughout the cars and homes of relatives and friends. The urgent plea to buy her an item needed for a project due on Friday is usually made on Thursday night.

Yes, The Girl is organizationally challenged, suffering from impaired preparatory skills, lacking sufficient organization motivation. In other words, she's a little lazy.

I can understand this, as I was the child who did homework in front of the TV and wrote five page reports the day before they were due. The difference is, that I got away with it. If you are going to be lazy and unorganized, it's imperative that you turn in what appears to be a well thought out paper, a report full of references or at the very least, pass the pop quiz. These are the real skills that she is lacking. It's hard work to be prepared, but if you are going to be a slacker, then you need to learn how to deliver the goods under pressure and at the last minute.

I think a lot of this is dependent on maturity. This is the child that didn't like first grade because they didn't play as many games as in kindergarten. If you find first grade to be grueling, then middle school is bound to be like being taken from a warm, comfortable bed and dunked into a tub of ice water. But as she grew to accept that first grade was about learning and not about socializing and fun, so she will accept that middle school is about responsibility and preparing for the future. It just might take some time.

At least that's going to be my line when I get to the first parent/teacher conference. I hope they buy it.

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