Month: October 2015
Shane is running the timer for his school’s Morning Show.
“What do you have to do?” I asked him.
“I have to time the beginning song,” he said. “And if there’s a video, I have to time that, too. And then when it starts, I wait for the guy to push the space bar, and then I start the timer.”
“Wow,” I told him, “Your job sounds very important.” I went on to tell him about professional TV news and sporting events, where timers are used extensively to make sure that commercials run as scheduled. I explained that going over or under the time could result in not being able to run a commercial ($$$) or worse, dead air.
Shane seems quite pleased with his position.
To be quite honest, though, had I known there was a timer position available, I would have recommended Shane from the age of two to do the job.
When he was little, Shane was rarely put into time out. He didn’t do much, other than lie on the floor and play with toys, so he rarely got into any trouble. He had some trouble putting away his toys, and still does, but for the most part, he wasn’t often “in trouble.”
Dylan, on the other hand, was three years older, and rambunctious. Before we knew he had ADHD, we were just trying to keep him still for one minute at a time.
Dylan was in time out a lot.
He would whine and mope and stamp to the stool, where he plopped himself down with clear disgust. Then, every 14 seconds, Dylan would say, “How much longer?”
I eventually learned to set a timer, so that Dylan could see how much longer. One minute for each year of his life = five minutes. As soon as he was on the stool, I would start the timer.
Shane would watch quietly from a distance.
After a few days maybe, Shane realized what was going on. “Time out” meant “timer countdown.”
So, at the age of two, he would wait until he was sure I was looking at him. Then he would pick up a toy and throw it against the wall.
“Oh no,” I said, the first time it happened. “We do not throw toys! You’re going to have to go to time out. I’m really sorry but ….”
Shane went racing across the room, as fast as his little legs could carry him. He plopped himself down on the stool and looked eagerly at the timer.
At the time, I still didn’t get it. “Okay, Shane,” I said, pushing the buttons. “You have to sit here for two minutes.”
“Okay,” he said in his darling monotone toddler voice. Then he stared at the timer, watching every one of the 120 seconds tick by.
Afterward, Shane regularly put himself into time out. Eventually I figured out that he just wanted to watch the timer.
So to say that he is happy with his Morning Show job would be a genuine understatement.
Because of Shane’s obsession with numbers, which apparently started in the womb, I always thought he’d make a great accountant, or maybe he could do something with statistics. But I am open to ideas, if anyone has one, for a good profession for someone who just wants to watch time go by.
Dylan’s unit test in Spanish was three parts: two days of written work, and one oral test. For those who didn’t read Friday’s blog, Dylan took day one and thought he was finished.
So on day two, Dylan pulled out his laptop during the test and his teacher thought he was cheating – when, in actuality, he just wasn’t paying attention. Again. He had no idea he was taking a unit test, so he was visibly upset (and called me sobbing) when she took away his paper and gave him a zero.
Dylan’s teacher kindly agreed to let him retake the second part of the test. She sent an email on Friday.
“Just want to let you know, that after some consideration I decided to let Dylan finish his Unit test. I will cancel the questions he already answered (I believe it was 3), but he will be able to complete the rest. Please, ask him to see me during lunch on Monday at my office.”
So on Saturday night, I asked Dylan, “What’s your plan for tomorrow?”
“Huh?” he asked blankly.
“Don’t you have anything to do on Sunday?”
“Play tennis?” he asked, obviously clueless. (The boys are taking tennis lessons on Sundays, though – so bonus point there!)
I asked, “Besides playing tennis, don’t you think there is something else you want to do?”
“Not really,” he said.
“Isn’t there something you want to do on Sunday to get ready for Monday?”
“Like what?” He honestly had no idea what I was talking about. Again.
“Dylan,” I said, clearly agitated, “if you can’t figure out what you are supposed to do, then I am not going to bother mentioning college ever again.”
Bill was sitting in the room, too. He understands Dylan, since they were cut from the same mold. Bill said, “Do you have a Spanish test on Monday?”
“No,” Dylan said. “I thought I just took that test.”
Dear Lord, I thought. How can he make the same mistake AGAIN?!
“Did you even read the email?” I shrieked.
“Yeah,” he said. “But I thought I was done taking the test.”
This can’t be happening.
“Then you MIGHT want to read it again!” I shrilled, and stomped off to bed.
I have no idea if he will study. And I have no idea if he will show up for the test today. And in my zeal to get him to self-advocate, I’m not sure how I can – ever again – possibly help.
Dylan called me from school in tears.
“Something happened in Spanish,” he choked. “They thought I was cheating and now I got a zero on my unit test!”
My stomach clenched. I wanted to vomit.
Denial hit instantly. No! My child wouldn’t cheat!
My mothering instinct kicked in immediately after: What if he did cheat? What if he’s just upset because he got caught?
The two sides of my brain fought while Dylan gave me details.
“I had this piece of paper on my desk and I didn’t even know what it was, and then I didn’t know what this one word was so I got out my computer to look it up and the teacher said I was cheating!”
Paper? Computer? Dylan has an IEP allowing him to use a personal computer for his writing issues.
“She thought you were cheating because you were looking up something on your computer?”
How stupid does she think he is? If he were going to cheat, he’d at least TRY to be slick about it! He’s not going to pull out a laptop in the middle of the test!
“Okay,” I said. “The worst thing that can happen is that she thinks you are cheating and you get a zero on your unit test. That has already happened. It can’t get any worse than that. So what are we going to do next?”
“I’m going to go to the guidance counselor’s office. I had to beg her to let me leave the room,” Dylan said
“Okay,” I said. “When you get to the counselor’s office, have him call me right away. And we will see if we can get you to retake the unit test after school, okay?”
“Okay,” he sniffed. And so the guidance counselor called me, and I emailed the teacher, and I talked to the teacher. And I met Dylan at school, and drove him home to hear the whole story.
Long story short, he didn’t cheat. He totally flaked out, didn’t hear the teacher say anything about a test, and thought he was just working on a paper. Which is why he pulled his laptop out of his backpack, plopped it on the desk for all the world to see – on top of his binder, which is enormous – and didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was looking up a word.
The teacher told me the worst of it.
“You’re taking a unit test!” the teacher told him.
“But I didn’t know I was taking a test!” Dylan exclaimed. The kids around him laughed at him.
He honestly didn’t know. We still don’t know if she’ll allow him to retake the unit test. But at the very least, I know – and my son knows – that he’s doing the best he can, and being honest.
And that’s really what matters the most.