Hope is like a giant carnivore.

Or I could have said hope is like claws the size of a school bus.

For several years I’ve been searching, hoping for a flicker. Some sign that eventually my nine-year-old son might take even a tiny bit of interest in his schoolwork.

In third grade, when completing his spelling homework, he still wrote large and messy and refused to start the words on the pink line. (Not because he couldn’t but because he didn’t care. His teacher was shocked when I told her last year that he really doesn’t care about schoolwork unless there’s a competition involved.)

Basically, his words were all over the place like a star constellation, scattered here and there, but if you studied hard enough you could find meaning.

Yeah, spelling homework is not supposed to be like that.

He rarely uses capitals and periods and definitely takes advantage of creative spelling.

We made small strides last year. When he wanted to he could write small and on the line. Maybe it depended on where Venus was in the sky or the direction the wind was blowing that day. Who knows?

But the other day, he handed me a gift that sent hope careening through me like the clubbed tail of a monster swinging through a Lego set.

This is part of a story he wrote:

I was sitting at my computer when I herd a cry for help. I went on the porch I could of fained there was this giant carnivore about 20 feet away from me bitting on this guys arm. I took my riffle and shoot it. the guy thanked me and went on. I still thout I was dreming But I wasn’t. I went for a walk but when I got up to Clock Road my mind went black my eyes went blind. I finnley realized what was going on. I was out cold.

When I woke up all I could see were, you know, monster’s yellow teeth, brown skin, and the claws the size of school busses. Then my eye caught something it was silver. I knew what a gun was but this was some other kind of wepon then my mind worked it’s a sword. I saw these in the movies. I ran and slid under the monster’s leg I grabbed the sword and stuck it in the monster’s behind.

The story continues, high in action and incredible detail of fighting this and several other monsters. I loved it. The strong verbs he chose astounded me. The way he fleshed out the scene sent me over the moon and back. And then, he ended with this bit of humor.

I told my dad I want to be a epic phenser. (fencer)

The spelling wasn’t perfect for sure. He threw in minimal punctuation. But the writing was small and on the lines and the story took up almost three handwritten pages. This is summer. No one told him to do it.

Like I said, hope is like a giant carnivore.

Now my hope is that he’ll read something other than Diary of A Wimpy Kid.

Where have you found hope recently?



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27 Responses to Hope is like a giant carnivore.

  1. Jessica Bell August 20, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    That’s a fab story! I wouldn’t worry too much about his spelling yet. At fourteen I was still spelling father as farter 🙂

    • Laura August 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I try not to! I’m sure some of it will come as he gets older.

  2. Louise August 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    That is an awesome story! Definitely one to keep and pull out to read over the years. I don’t blame your son for not caring about schoolwork – I never could find much interest in worksheets and other exercises when I was his age. Give me a story that I could write, or a recipe to follow (for math), and then, seeing a purpose for it all (oh, spelling and punctuation means people will be able to read my story easier, and understanding these fractions means I can double this recipe to feed more people?), and I was good.

    My sister, on the other hand, would read math textbooks before bed each night. Different learning styles for each person!

    • Laura August 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      I don’t blame him either. He’s very active and would much rather be playing a game outside. 🙂

  3. Anna Staniszewski August 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Oh that’s awesome! It looks like you’ve inspired him. 🙂

    • Laura August 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      My writing probably had something to do with it. His older brother writes stories and graphic novels but has been doing that for a while. I’m not sure why now, but I’ll take it!

  4. Cheyenne Campbell August 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    I love when hope gets a big (surprise) boost like that! How lovely – here’s to many more 🙂

  5. anne gallagher August 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Okay, kudo’s to the son for “carnivore” and definite kudo’s for sticking the sword up the monster’s bum! There’s some real insight there.

    My daughter is having the same problem in school. She hates to write. Says it makes her hand hurt. I blame the pencil. When she’s at home I let her use a pen. She doesn’t complain much.

    We’ll see what happens this year.

  6. Talli Roland August 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Aw, wonderful! Those descriptions are super vivid, for sure. A budding writing in the making!

  7. Jemi Fraser August 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    That is awesome!!!! I hope some of the kids coming into my class in a few weeks have done that kind of thing!! 🙂

  8. Jennifer Hoffine August 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Aww! How cool. You can make them do their homework but you can’t make them want to learn or create…glad you’ve found some hope!

  9. Laura Diamond August 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    This is FABULOUS!!!!

  10. Laurel G August 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Great story–truly a breakthrough. His enjoyment of writing creatively can be a great motivational tool, now that you know it. It might take some creative conversations to help make the connection for him–how homework is practice that helps hone craft.

  11. Jenny Lundquist August 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing that. My son is just starting 3rd grade and he’s recently been diagnosed with having issues with Audio Processing and Executive Function. I’m hoping that even with these challenges, one day he’ll learn to love writing, reading, spelling. Or at least, he’ll learn to tolerate it.

  12. Jenni August 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Wonderful story! I have a severely dyslexic son. He hated reading until Harry Potter came along when he was about 13. I used to despair about his learning challenges, but as an adult, he now loves to read. He works as a surveyor, traveling all over bush-Alaska, and he always takes a book with him for the evenings when the work is done. He still can’t spell, but he knows how to use spell check.

    Your story reminds me of when he was taking a class that included lessons on Shakespeare in high school. He didn’t do any of the assigned homework – a lot – until the night before it was due. I was standing there lecturing him for putting it off till the night before, while he sat down and wrote the most beautiful, insightful and touching poem on Romeo and Juliet I could ever imagine. I saved that one to show him in about 20 years. 😉

  13. Dianne Salerni August 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Four days before school ended last June, I introduced The Emotional Thesaurus in my writing class. I was desperate to keep these kids busy. They hadn’t had much interest in writing all year and at this point were definitely waiting for the clock to run out.

    But one boy — a nice kid but one who’d struggled with writing clearly all year — produced a piece of dialogue using the Thesaurus that hit me like that school bus of hope. (I even published it on my blog in June.)

    I’m about to start a new school year, and I plan on using that Thesaurus from the beginning of the year.

  14. elle strauss August 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Talent runs in the family!

    (ps: I’m still a terrible speller.)

  15. Traci Kenworth August 21, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    My daughter loves to draw and write. She plans to combine the two and go into the field of comics when she graduates.

  16. Stacy August 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Great improvement on his part! Creative writing can be a huge help to him. If you haven’t already, encourage him to keep a journal of his stories:)

  17. Kelly Hashway August 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    You may have a future writer on your hands.

  18. Susan Kaye Quinn August 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Oh, the struggles – I have the same one with my 9 yo! And what a wonderful gift that story is!! So happy for both of you … and I love most of all how fiction and imagination saves the day.

  19. Karen Strong August 23, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Aw, that’s so sweet Laura. Maybe seeing your work on your novels is rubbing off on him. You know kids are always watching. 🙂

  20. Lydia K August 23, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    How can any story with a giant carnivore NOT be amazing? 😀

  21. Theresa Milstein August 23, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Oh, great story! His and yours.

    Laura, I know what you’re going through. My son was the same way, right down to only being interested if competition was involved. But each year he improved his outlook, work ethic, and product. By 7th grade, other students were looking to him as a role model.

  22. Jackee August 24, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    Love those moments of parental bliss! I have a 4th grader too and I love it when she writes me poetry and/or stories. They are better than pearls. :o)

    My latest hope incident? I just found out my friend who might lose her leg from a boating accident has two “extra” arteries that have been keeping the leg alive all week even when the grafts didn’t. Such a miracle!!!!!

    Have a great night, dear!

  23. Christina Lee August 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    AWWWW, love this. Someday, when he’s older and successful (whatever your definition is), you’ll look back at this with wonder.

  24. Leslie Rose August 27, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    This post choked me up. How wonderful. I’m a teacher and I celebrate triumphs every day. They are golden.

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