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Parenting Trouble

Posted by Dirck on 9 October, 2013

But first– I have been made aware that October is Pit Bull Awareness Month.  Let’s all take a moment to look under our chairs.


Well, that’s a relief.  I’d hate to be unaware of a pit bull.

Enough of this point dodging, though.  I’ve got what is, by my measures, a really serious problem, composed of the intersection of my son and the educational system.  Last winter I mentioned his initial brush with education, and the interesting discovery about how he holds a writing device.  I was slightly concerned, but viewed as something that could be addressed when the time came.

Apparently I should have been doing something about it over the summer.

Wife and I had a little visit with his kindergarten teacher recently, at an open house and indoor picnic (the only day in the past two months there’s been a good firm rain), and she mentioned that she was having a little trouble convincing him to hold a pencil right.  She even showed us the training device she’s made, a triangle of the finger-stalls worn by people who have to riffle paper for a living which can be set around a pencil– kid puts thumb and two fingers in the rubber bits, and presto, a correct pencil grip.

Mmmmmmm… sorta.  With all three fingers pointing the same direction, the pencil ends up very vertical, and the inclination is to use the fingers to move the pen around.  If we’re undoing a “bad” habit (see how far I unbend?), let’s not replace it with another.  I resolved to make his Griffix pencil a part of the evening routine.

Last night, we sat down together, I with my pen (at which, bless him, an “ooh” noise was made) and he with his pencil.  I showed him how I was holding mine, showed him the landing zones and encouraging smiley face on his, and got his hand arranged about it.  We made some letters, in no particular sequence.  We made some numbers, likewise.  All very comradely, until the number 5 came up.  5 is a bit of a problem, because it’s not a single gesture.  Make an inverted sickle, then return to the start for the crossbar.

My son, new to the game, was having a little trouble with targeting the second step.  Three tries, all recognizably 5 but all also recognizably written by someone who is a beginner at running a pencil.

Our discovery, last night, is that our son gets pretty wound up when he can’t do something to a high degree of skill right away.  Pencil was dashed to the table.  Tears.  Howling.  A tantrum that happily left out the banging of head upon the floor.  Frequent holding up of a hand in the classic stop gesture, but in this case meant to keep us from looking at him.

It’s an early age to internalize disgrace, and a terrible thing to feel it over.  He doesn’t cling to such moods, hoorah, so hopefully our next session won’t be tainted.  If anyone can suggest an effective way to persuade a five-year-old with a mere wisp of autism in his makeup that perfection isn’t required at the first or even hundredth attempt, I’m ready to grab on with both hands.  In an interesting confluence, his recent discovery of Despicable Me, this little setback, and a thing shown me by a Facebook acquaintance a few days ago may come together to make for his first motivational poster:

If only we didn't despise motivational posters.

If only we didn’t despise motivational posters.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Reeves blue-black

Post Script– on the imperfection front, I may not be around for an entry tomorrow, due to arranging delivery of some pens.  I’m not above back-to-back film days, but I’ve been relying on Youtube an awful lot lately.


2 Responses to “Parenting Trouble”

  1. AndrewMB said

    I was discussing pen gripping with my 17 year old daughter a few days ago, as well as toilet training with my staff at the day care I direct. These are not as disparate topics as they might appear to be. The question to ask is one of comfort in the former case, and ability in the latter, and often comfort is found to be a great support to ability.

    Perhaps your son should seek out his own meaning of comfort and interest in gripping a pen/pencil while you carefully raise the window and let that notion of “a correct way” to grip a pen fly out the window.

    Sister Mary Holywater, in her many shapes and forms, always berated me for not holding a pen the right way in (I may be giving away my country of origin) grammar school, but tacitly I realised that I was the one writing down my thoughts, not her; so I wrote how it suited me best, not how it suited her best.

    Likewise, toilet training comes off as parent training to put child on the potty. A child must have the moxy to do the job on a can or training is primarily a parental function. I’d much rather change a diaper than a pair of soiled pants. When the child is ready, the child will let the parents know somehow, verbally or by signal. It is a natural function.

    I’d say, make the time you spend with your son & pencil interesting, rather than instructive.

    • I have, as previous entries near the matter had revealed, moderated my own stance on “correct” pen holding, but getting him somewhat near the right end of the stick might relieve an element of friction for him at school– there’s several others, given his condition (low-grade, but present).

      The terrible thing is, he’d actually settled into the grip quite nicely when the other matter erupted. He’s a great and rather precocious reader, and the creation of words seems a matter of interest to him, so there’s some hope that the little eruption won’t develop into a setback.

      Funnily enough, toilet training was also a bit of a bugbear for him. We eventually worked out that he saw no distinction between diapers and any other form of clothes; he spent rather a lot of time at home in a state of nature, and he was disinclined to make messes on the floor, so the habit of toilets entered his life.

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