"Did you get your essay done?"
My daughter is procrastinating again. I start probing to find out why she just spent 20 minutes meticulously drawing out a perfect smiley face on the back of her hand. I put my Learning Coach hat on and begin a careful line of questioning. Our dialogue continues like a well choreographed dance production.
She responds, "No."
"Why not?" I ask, hoping for her to provide me with a deep reflection on the inner workings of her mind.
"Because...". She pauses. I know what she is doing. She has a list of possible reasons why she is not working on her essay and she's thinking about which is the best to use in this situation. It could be one or any combination of the following:
I already know this stuff.
I don't understand it.
it doesn't make any sense.
I have a headache.
I can't concentrate.
I'm not sure how much time has passed, but she hasn't finished her sentence yet. I must rescue her and help her get refocused, or that smiley face on the back of her hand is going to start growing hands and legs and then she'll want to get it furniture and move in permanently. Instead of waiting for her to answer, I put on my loving mom sing song voice, "Sweetie girl, did you read the directions?" Not one to be outwitted, she puts on her cutest voice and responds "Yes, but it doesn't make any sense." Ready to jump into action, I dig for more insight, "What part of it don't you understand?", I ask. "All of it", she replies.
Aha! I've got her! My persistence has paid off. It's all code for "I didn't read any of it yet, because I was drawing on the back of my hand". I know this because there are only three physical positions for the human body to be in if she was really tackling any portion of this essay in this lesson: 1) hands on the keyboard 2) pencil on paper or 3) eyes/hands on the lesson and research material.
I open her book to the right page, cover the directions with her in the lesson, and remind her of her teachers phone number if she needs help understanding the lesson. We smile at each other with pure understanding. This dance has come to an end.
Update: She got an A on her essay! I knew she could do it...so why couldn't she focus?