“Fails to Follow Directions”

HomeworkI was not the best student when I was a kid. It’s not because I wasn’t smart enough or didn’t understand the concepts being taught. My downfall was my failure to follow directions. Even as an adult, I find that my brain works against me. I can look at a “problem” and my brain immediately goes into “how do we solve this” mode and then I take action…without reading the directions. For example, I have built many, many toys for my children over the years. Not once have I read the directions. Curiously, there are always “extra pieces” when I’m done and the toy works correctly only 80% of the time. Failure to follow directions has been my kryptonite.

A few nights ago, Justin asked me to help him with his homework. I thought – “Hey – he’s in Kindergarten! I can do this with my eyes closed.” (Which I probably should have done since it would have gotten us better results.) The first task of the homework was to look at each picture and then fill in the missing vowel to complete the word. Easy! As you can see, in the world of Justin’s homework, they are still using whiskey jugs and desk lamps from the ‘80s.

The second part of the homework was where I failed my child, myself, and kindergarten. I did NOT read the directions. I saw that each vowel was assigned a color and assumed that Justin was supposed to color in each block accordingly. It wasn’t until he was done that I realized something didn’t look right. That’s when I saw the second instruction. There was a pencil making a circle followed by: “…each word in the puzzle.” DOH!!

Let’s be honest. Justin does not like doing his homework. But (as I discovered) Justin REALLY doesn’t like doing his homework twice because his daddy is an idiot! I explained that I made a mistake and that he needed to circle the words in a specific color that is assigned to each vowel. He stared into the depths of my soul with his “You must be f*#$ing kidding me” look. I felt bad. I really did. He begrudgingly finished his homework and then stormed off to watch television.

The following morning, I ran into his teacher in passing. She told me how much she loved Justin and how great a student he was. Guilt of failing my child (and maybe some remorse for hiding twelve years’ worth of homework under my parents’ sofa) washed over me and I confessed that I messed up his homework. She laughed and said that it wasn’t a problem.

Moving forward, there are only two choices: 1) Make sure to read the instructions, or 2) Hope my wife is understanding when I start hiding our son’s homework under our sofa!

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