Thursday, September 24, 2015

Zoe vs. Focus (Or, Do as I Say, Not as I Do)

Zoe had her first night of homework this week. She had to color in a few apples and then write her name ten times. It took forever. Mostly because she had to do a myriad of other things first, including:

  • Get her favorite pencil. (Oddly for a favorite, it had never been used.) 
  • Sharpen fresh, unused, beloved pencil.
  • Tell me a story about how she used to write her name when she was two years old.
  • Draw her hand a few million times.

The whole time I kept telling her to focus. Is this what the next ten to twelve years of homework are going to be like?
According to the Mothers of Facebook, yes, but more.

Zoe had already been writing her name at day care, so what was the problem? Well, the problem was lowercase. Not lowercase as in, the opposite of an all-caps PROBLEM. But lowercase as in she didn't like to write in it.
The assignment was to spell her name, first letter capped, rest of letters lowercase. In other words: Zoe, not ZOE.
Well, she understood, but didn't want to write it that way, especially not the lowercase e, which she found to be uncooperative. That was the reason she needed to practice it, I told her. Plus, it was what the teacher wanted.
Fine, she said, clearly under duress.
So, she sat down and did it. Then I looked at it. And here's what she'd written:
(Glad we didn't spell her name with an umlaut or who knows what she would've done with that.)
So. Focus. I had a big talk with her about it. 
Of course, as we all know, the First Commandment of Good Parenting is Do as I Say, Not as I Do. I think Dr. Spock said that. 
Now, if Zoe had been paying attention the past week, she would've witnessed a lot of failures in focus on the part of her own mother. Which means I also heeded the Second Commandment of Good Parenting: Lead by Example. Because I showed her not to follow mine as well as what happens when you don't focus. Here's the rundown: 
1. I put a K-cup in the Keurig, pressed the brew button, and then turned away. Something I do many mornings but this time with a twist. I didn't place a mug under it. 
2. As I hurriedly unloaded the dishwasher, I dropped a bowl. It bounced on the open door of the dishwasher. I reached to catch it and in doing so punched it forward to the tile floor, where it shattered.
3. First day of soccer this past weekend, we were late. Rushed out the door without checking where the field was. Couldn't find it. Eventually we did but we missed most of the practice. 
4. Lost count of how many times I hit my head chasing Zoe under a slide at the park  because I was wearing a cap and kept forgetting to look up. (In my defense, I'm short and almost never have to duck under anything in daily life.)
5. Exercising the other day I placed my elbows on the exercise ball to hold plank. Promptly slid right off. Gracelessly. And ouch.
6. Thought I'd lost an earring. Wore one hoop all day. When I came home, saw I'd left the other earring on my dresser. Apparently I'd only put one on.
7. Yesterday morning at work---so I can't use Zoe as an excuse for my being distracted---I turned abruptly, sweeping my hand across my desk and knocking my coffee mug over. Coffee everywhere. Pants, chair, computer keyboard, bag.

Is there anything sadder than spilled coffee?
I mean, besides a mug that says "Joy"?

If Zoe had asked me on any of these occasions, was I focused, what would I have said? Probably: Huh? Did you say something?
If you're able to focus, you probably noticed how two of these incidents involved coffee. So maybe the problem is I'm having too much and becoming jittery and careless. Or, more likely, since I keep spilling it, I'm not drinking nearly enough. And that's because of another thing I'm not getting nearly enough of: sleep.
Perhaps sleep is the real answer because if I could get more of it, I'd surely be able to focus.
I sent a memo up the chain of command, but Command wrote back: "I NOT TIRED."

Zoe: 110; Universe: 0
For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

 1. Walk. 2. Chew gum. 3. Don't fall. 4. Click here to subscribe. 

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