Alex has a paper to write for school this week. He's at college now, studying film production. So far, his assignments have been short, sweet, expressive and non-stressful, but now he has a three page analysis to write, based on a movie of his choice.
He chose No Country for Old Men, rented it from the video store and watched it again, then sat down to write. He had notes from his instructor on the expected elements of the review, as well as a sample review, written by another film student in a previous semester. He asked me for help, so I sat down and looked at the instructions with him, and discussed how he might collect and organize his thoughts before writing the review. Then I did the hard part. I walked away.
He had a hard time beginning, and shouted suggestions and ideas to me for the first few minutes, and I tried my best to be encouraging but leave it to him. At the same time, I was feeling excited about the project. I love movies. I love that movie. I would love to write a review of that movie, but I'm not taking the course. I went downstairs and did laundry. For a long time. When I came back upstairs he had 2 pages divided into the main sections of the review, with bullet points under each topic. He was going to the internet to find background info. I warned him not to quote wikepedia or imdb, just to go to the most reliable sites he knew to check facts. The review needed to be about his own response to the film - not what someone else said that sounded smart. Then I walked away again.
As Alex began typing the review from his notes, he called out to check how a word was spelled, then another. I told him, "Use creative spelling." I'll help you check spelling when you have the whole thing written. For now, just write, and don't let spelling stop you.
I told Andy, "I'd like to watch that movie again. Do you want to watch it with me?" Smart man, he said, "No. not tonight." Well he knew that if I watched it I would be even more tempted to point out something to Alex and ask if he noticed it, or what he thought of it. I realised the time for me to watch it will be after Alex hands in the paper.
A while later Alex was telling me how tired he felt, and maybe he should stop and do more work tomorrow. I encouraged him to talk to himself and write down everything he says - just get some words on the page and you'll get rolling. Then I walked away again. He began to work at the keyboard.
When I went to bed at ten, Alex was typing like crazy. I think he's doing fine. I can't wait to read what he writes. He can do it, and I can not do it. Yay for both of us.
question: did you ever have a time when helping was not helpful?
mompoet - not helping, like a good mom doesn't