"What do you use to get your pushpin into a bulletin board? Probably your thumb. What do you use to put a nail into a 2x4?"
I am talking about tools with Jack. Really, I am trying to talk about homework with Jack. Actually, I would rather NOT talk about homework at all. It is a rather exhausting topic. Jack and I agree on this point. We don't agree on much else, when it comes to homework.
Jack doesn't understand his Algebra homework so he's decided not to do it. His history homework is hard and boring so he's decided not to do it. I am trying to convince him otherwise.
That's where the tool analogy comes in. Sometimes, you can't get the job done without the right tools. I am trying to tell him that he has a lot of tools available to him:
The tool of time management: starting homework right after school instead of waiting until bedtime
The tool of teachers: available for extra assistance if he stays after school
The tool of parents: willing to help
If those aren't enough we can get a bigger toolbox--work on reading strategies to make history easier or consider medication to help with focus, for instance.
To me, this all seems perfectly logical. Jack doesn't seem to hear any of it. Wait a minute, are those earbuds peeking out from his sweatshirt? He's not even listening to me. I am the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon, "Whaw, whaaw, whawww..."
Now I am the one banging my head against a 2x4. I am tired of having the same conversation every week. I look into my toolbox:
Tool 1: Try rational argument about the importance of homework. Offer to help. Give a pep talk.
Tool 2: Threaten grounding until Christmas.
Tool 3: Retreat into bedroom in my pajamas with a glass of wine.
Nothing seems to be the right fit to get the job done. I either need more wine or new tools.