Ian has trouble with creative writing. He’s very creative in what he builds, with Legos and other materials, but he has trouble pulling something from nothing. Yesterday, his language book instructed us to make a postcard. We were to draw a picture on the front of an index card based on the setting of a book he has read. He’s currently reading Magic Tree House #8: Midnight on the Moon. So he drew a picture of the moon, no problem. Then we turned it over to write a message. That’s when the trouble began. “But I can’t think of anything!” I gave him several examples of what is usually written on postcards, but still nothing. Finally, he started crying, so I tried to make it easy on him. I said, “Start with, ‘The moon is…’” Nothing. So I said (thinking the answer would be obvious), “Choose either ‘boring’ or ‘fun.’” Still nothing, accompanied with more desperate crying. “Ian, just pick one! ‘Boring’ or ‘fun.’ Which one do you want?” Finally, I had to resort to, “Choose one by the time I count to three, or you’re in trouble.” I hated doing that. I have never used counting when disciplining, but I just couldn’t figure out how to progress from the stalemate we found ourselves in. I don’t think he was trying to disobey me, or I would have just spanked him. I think something actually got stuck in his brain. Once we got started, he was fine (he stopped crying), but I had to help him a lot.
That’s why I’m so impressed with his current activity. He’s working on a brochure to Pluto. He’s had so many ideas, from a floating train to a scenic lookout for floating rocks in the atmosphere. (He’s convinced Pluto has rings.) He even created trees that grow from genetically modified seeds. He said you have to add metal to the seeds, and the trees grow with metal throughout. Then people can walk upside down and sideways with magnetic shoes. Creative? Yes! He’s even thought of bad guys and adventures for his planet. I can’t wait until he finishes his brochure. I’ll have to upload pics so you all can see it!
To give you an idea of why I think it was easier for him: We started drawing the front of the brochure at home, but we ran out of time, and had to leave the house. Going down the highway, schoolbooks out of sight and out of mind, he had his coolest ideas. When I praised him for being so creative, he said, “I can do it, but I just need time to think about it.” Maybe I should give him five or ten minutes of thinking time when we begin a new creative writing project? But if I time it, I wonder if he will think of himself as being under pressure and just shut down again. Maybe we should go for a walk and discuss ideas? But sometimes it’s really cold outside, especially this time of year. Any suggestions? He’s seven. I really don’t want to make him miserable; I want school to be fun for him! At the same time, I don’t want to cater to him everytime he breaks down. I just really don’t think it’s a discipline problem, but maybe I’m wrong?