Last week was a blur of practices and pick-ups and overlapping schedules, and during Riley’s soccer practice I ended up waiting in the car with my teenager. Jake had a test on sentence structures the next day, and so I suggested he start studying in the car. Out loud. Jake is ADHD, and being ADHD myself I know it’s easier to keep focused if you say it out loud. Jake moaned about this a bit, and I insisted. “Dude. Just say it out loud, ok? You will focus so much better.”
Jake began reading the definitions of the different types of sentences: complex, simple, compound complex, loose, periodic. Then, he started identifying the different types of sentences the book gave as examples.
He read a sentence by Jane Austin, and then…..”Ohh, that one…it’s …complex.” Then he checked to see if his answer was correct.
And down the list of examples he went. It was a long list. It was a long practice.
He read a sentence written by Willa Cather, ” ‘After a night behind the scenes, Paul found the schoolroom more than ever repulsive; the bare floors and naked walls; the prosy men who never wore frock coats’…… Uhm…… complex.”
“Complex….like yer MOM!” I say, and he ignores me.
More sentences, and then, George Elliot,” “He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.”
“He huh. You said cock.”
Jake closes his eyes and sighs, shakes his head, and then resumes, “That one …. it’s complex.” I’m afraid the boy expects these things from me.
He keeps reading. James Baldwin, ” ‘Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.’ Uhhmm…..compound-complex.”
“Like yer Moo-oom.” Jake closes his eyes again. But this time he takes the bridge of his nose between his fingers and pinches it. I’m causing the teenager physical pain.
Then Ralph Waldo Emerson, ” ‘Children are all foreigners.’ That one is simple.”
“Like yer Mom, ” I whisper, sotto voice. This time he looks at me with a look that is compound and complex and makes clear that he thinks I’m simple.
Shaking his head, Jake mumbles another sentence. “That one……simple and loose.”
“LIKE YER MOM!” I yell this and dissolve into uncontrollable giggles.
That does it, and Jake can’t keep a straight face. He bursts out laughing and shouts, “Am I the only mature person in this car? ”
Maybe studying out loud with me there wasn’t my best idea.