And then today there was a "publishing party" in his fourth grade classroom. All of the children had written personal narratives and this morning we proud parents got to read them amidst festive food and much excitement.
As I have mentioned from time to time here, Ethan has had issues with writing. Some deadly conflagration of perfectionism, ADD, having writer parents, compliance issues, left handedness, and who all knows what else has created a snarled mess that led to horrible homework wars for the past 2 years; led to a huge differential between his Math and English scores on standardized tests. (He can do math in his sleep.)
And this is not a child who has trouble expressing himself. He is full of ideas, has a huge vocabulary, reads up a storm. He will TALK on any subject until the cows come home, but ask him to write it down and he clams up, freaks out. The translation of thoughts and ideas from brain to page has been a minefield for him.
In an attempt to head things off at the pass, knowing that much writing would be required of him this year, we brought in some outside help: Ethan has a writing tutor. And we have not yet had a homework fiasco, though the beginning of his work with the tutor was rocky going,
Also, it seems, he has a great classroom teacher. Because when we sat down to read his essay, we were blown away, and I knew I had to share it with you here (with Ethan's permission of course).
It is a very PERSONAL personal narrative. While many other students wrote about big moments in their lives, Ethan chose a small one, and not really a happy one, in spite of the (ironic) title. I don't necessarily come out smelling like roses in it, either.
Read now and hear my son Ethan, in his own words:
The Sunny Feeling of My Room By Ethan
I was coming home with my mom and Ellen (my tutor). My mom was in a rush to pick up my brother Jacob from his bus. I wasn’t in a hurry to pick him up. My brother has autism. It’s something that makes his brain work differently.
When we got to my house we waited in the lobby for my brother’s bus.
“Do not yell at Ellen,” Mom told me.
“Okay,” I replied.
Jacob’s bus came about one minute later. The four of us got into the elevator. I pressed five. We got to my apartment and went in.
Jacob kept annoying me.
“Mr. Ethan,” he kept saying to me.
“Stop it!” I yelled.
Mom tried to get him to go on the computer. But he said he wanted to watch television. She got him to watch television in my parents room.
We started working. Ellen told me to write two pages of something. I thought it was too much so I started to yell at her, “That’s too much!”
“No, it isn’t,” she told me. That went on for a while.
Then Mom yelled “Ethan, go to your room!”
I was in my room punching pillows. My teeth were clenching, my rage hissed inside of me like fire. I knocked a pillow across the room. I felt like no one really cared about me. I kicked the wood keeping up my brother’s part of the bunk bed. I somehow felt a little sad inside, like I was going to cry.
There was nothing to do in my room. My room has yellow walls, a clothing drawer, a shelf with old toys, three old pictures from when I was five, somewhere around fifty stuffed animals, a window, and my bunk bed.
My stomach barked. I hadn’t ate since lunch at school about three hours ago. But I couldn’t get out of my room. I waited but I was too hungry.
“Mom, can I please have a snack?’ I yelled from across the house.
“What?” she replied. (Probably yelling.)
“Can I have a snack?” I said, a little louder. She was coming into my room.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you,” she said.
“Mom, can I have a snack?” I told her. She offered me Scooby Snacks. I answered yes. I didn’t really want want them but I didn’t want to starve.
I head butted my bed while I was waiting. She came back with a large green bowl of Scooby Snacks. They smelled like the sweetest thing on earth. But they tasted even better.
Just as Mom was leaving I thought I would ask her if I could play with some toys.
“Mom, come in here.” I called. She came in.
“What,” she replied
“Can I play with the toys in my room?” I asked.
“No, read your book,” she said, mad. I couldn’t. I can’t eat while I read, I knew.
So I replied, “I can’t eat and read at the same time. But I can eat and play.”
She came back with my book Young Samurai: Way of the Dragon. “Read this when you’re done eating,” she told me.
I did not listen to my mom. I played with balls called Bakugan. I has just beaten myself for the third time when I heard Mom and Ellen talking. I didn’t hear what they said but I knew they were talking.
I was half way through my Scooby Snacks, Jacob was watching television. I felt bad, I wanted to do something. I called my mom from across the house. She came in.
“Mom, can I please get out of my room?” I asked.
“If you don’t do what you did again,” she replied. I felt fire in my heart, I squeaked out a yes.
Ellen was happy to see me back. We had about twenty minutes left. Soon Ellen left and I started watching television.
When I look back to that day I know not to judge something before you do it. Also don’t get mad because you don’t want to do something. I chose this because I had never been in my room so long before.
As I was reading this I kept thinking it read like the kind of blog posts I love: raw, honest, real. It is very revealing.
Other parents who read his story kept coming up to me and marveling at the emotion in it, the awareness of and ability to express his feelings.
It seems my little apple hasn't fallen far from the tree, after all.
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