Monday, February 15, 2016

The Writing Goal

     He wrote the same way I do, ideas tumbling out at once, all over the paper, so that it gets hard to follow. One leads into the next without finishing where it was going in the first place.
     He wasn't hyper but rather a wiggly talker, like I am, sometimes. I wasn't there when the label went on, so I'm not sure how it went down.
     It was probably his mom's idea, but that's just a guess. He was smart enough to be in the "twice exceptional zone."
     That's when your I.Q. is higher than average but something is slowing you down, like ADHD or autism. Students with this label remind me X-Men; they are more than the rest of us in ways that we don't quite get enough to appreciate.
     He was filled with creative ideas but couldn't tell them in a way that made enough sense for even  a C sometimes. Graphic organizers were painful reins on his creativity and he resisted them as I did outlines as a kid.
     It was hard slowing things down that way, having to mix Roman numerals and lines with my words. To me, it made something fun and easy into work.
     Slowing my fingers down to form an outline took away my "steam" so that I had none left for the real job of writing. I suffered through the outlines to get an A instead of a B on my report cards, then abandoned them completely.
     When I helped him, I did so more like an editor than a teacher. His words were well-chosen and his ideas took me down roads I wanted to follow but the journey wore me out. Like me, he got "carried away" sometimes, starting new stories before the old ones were halfway done..
     I imitated the teacher, his classroom teacher, who I watched so closely every day. She had been teaching for a million years and knew what she was doing; there was plenty for me to learn.
     Some of her ideas were old-fashioned but not in a mean way, more like a grandmother.
     Children waited in line to go up to her desk for private chats about what to do to make their essays better. They returned to their desks with personalized instructions on how to edit their own work.
     So, that's how I helped him. We read through his stories together and talked about the parts that needed to go vs. the ones that needed a bit of fine-tuning. He could tell how much I enjoyed what he was saying and how he was saying it. I hope he picked up as many pointers from me as I did from him because I really did try, in our limited time together, to give him my all.