February 19, 2014: Persuasion
This week has me feeling like a grade school student again. And I mean this literally. Grant and I have been attached at the hip as it relates to his school work. I am watching his every assignment like a hawk.
The long and short is that I gave Grant too long of a leash in school. The result was a fail in the personal accountability category. So now, to Grant's chagrin, he and I are working to correct this in tandem. And, unfortunately, bad habits are hard to break.
Although mentally drained with my own work by day and grade school work by night, our combined efforts are appearing to pay off. Grant's poor study habits are breaking down under pressure. And believe me, he has resisted.
I told one of Grant's teachers that it feels like I'm breaking a wild horse. One that flails and bucks to it's own exhaustion with nothing gained but the exhaustion. Today the bucking stopped.
After minimal resistance, he finished an essay early. The first win was that the completion time was before 10:00 p.m. The second win was that he asked that I proofread for him. His typical habit would be to hastily handing in; either late or with rushed grammar mistakes.
My initial assessment after reading his work? This weary horse appears to be strong one. The essay was quite good. Although only a first draft, he whipped it up in no time. It appeared to come easily and fluently for him. Other than a couple of punctuation corrections, I felt that Grant nailed his main message. Just what a first draft should do.
At our teachers conference last week, Grant's Lit and Language teacher commented that he was a very good writer. A natural. Although this didn't surprise me, I really didn't know this about Grant. Rarely has he allowed me to read his papers before turning in. Having the opportunity to read his work was a treat.
The homework was a persuasive essay. The assignment read that "a writer of a good persuasive essay clearly takes a position on the topic and states it. All ideas in good persuasive writing appeal to either logic or emotion and work toward convincing readers to share the writer's viewpoint."
Yep, I believe the child nailed it. And the topic warmed my heart. It reminded me that although good-old Grant has not scored Brownie points recently in the homework category, he has one distinct characteristic that is unfaltering. Grant has a big heart. And he has the courage to show it. His art of persuasion extends outside the written word.
The same teachers who tell me of assignments needing to be completed with more effort, also tell me of Grant's inclusiveness in the classroom. Stories are shared on Grant's acts of kindness to each and every student and respect to the teachers. His actions are soft, but calculated. I have often referred to Grant as a "human barometer". He understands people and instantly feels what they feel.
When a teacher told me how Grant would work the classroom; quietly drawing in the perceived unpopular and shy crowd to make them feel included, we both teared up. She then commented that no one knew this was an intentional act, other than Grant and the teacher.
I have observed this same behavior on many occasions. With bullying, popularity and exclusivity of friendships prevalent in these tender, but difficult, years; it takes courage to rise above this pressure.
Some things in life can't be taught. Heart is one of them. Displaying it openly is an act of courage. Especially when you are a teen.
After posting a blog last fall, I received a random message from a friend and reader. "Matthew 5:14-16 is you today. Have a great one." His comment made my day and provided motivation for future blogs on life sharing. God gives us all glorious light. But it must be shined to be shared and for others to see.
Fast forward four month and I am now reflecting on Grant shining his light. In my estimation, this is a much easier task for me as an adult than at his impressionable age of thirteen. My heart warms again.
But being a good kid doesn't give Grant a bye on the homework lapses. I will keep working to tame the bucking bronco. Failings are a part of being human. We are not perfect. On earth, we are simply a work in progress to the everlasting life we wish to attain. After forty-six years, I sure don't have it all figured out. But I keep trying. And I keep learning from others like Grant, just like he learns from me.
As for his essay, I will let you judge for yourself. I am hoping this will be the first of many future guest blogs :)