24 November 2011

What the Heck's a Cinquain?

Homework is not my strong suit.
Actually, no. When I was a kid, homework WAS my strong suit. I was a homework-geek.
But as a mother, I completely suck at homework.
I forget to inquire about it, I neglect to check it, it doesn't get done.
I'm sure my teacher-mother friends are gasping in shock right now.
I know. I am a shocker.

This is why I am a stay-at-home mother, right?
To be there for my kids. To do the stuff stay-at-home mothers do - which includes nagging kids about doing homework.
Miss Fab is easy. She is like I was, a homework geek. If I neglect to do reading with her, she reads anyway. She fills in her own reading log. She reads to Scrag. She writes stories just for fun.

But that other guy, the sporty one, he is the ultimate slacker.
I'm just not used to that! It is beyond my comprehension that a kid would not want to do their best for their teacher, and bring them a shiny-cheeked apple each morning.
But my kid is the one who suddenly remembers at 8.30pm a.k.a. bedtime, that he has to write a "Cinquain" and hand it in tomorrow or his strict-new-substitute teacher is going to keep him in at lunchtime.
That's what did it of course - the threat of losing his football-playing time.
Otherwise I would have never heard about Cinquains.

He's sitting on the couch with his bottom lip quivering at the thought of being kept in at lunch to write poetry, and he's wailing, "And you can't even help me cos you don't even know what a Cinquain is!"
Well, what is it then?
"Its got syllables... it's like... syllables... um... I don't know! See I'm gonna be kept in at lunch!"
Daddy of course is not impressed that he left it until now to mention this.
He is also not impressed that {yet again} I seem to have neglected my homework-nagging duties.

Consumed with guilt, I pack the kid off to bed and turn to my friend Google.
I type in "poem syllables what is?" and hope that I'll find something that sounds like the word Dash was saying; some kind of poem with syllables.
{Because of course he wouldn't know how to spell Cinquain, would he?}

I found it on my first go, a list of poetic devices, styles and rules...

cinquain – SIN-QUAY-N The poetry form devised by Adelaide Crapsy around 1910, supposedly based on the tanka, in which five lines are filled with the syllable count of 2/4/6/8/2.

Alrighty then.
Now I know what a Cinquain is, I can help the kid figure out how to write a poem before breakfast.

But what is not so easy is getting myself to be consistent about these things.
What has become of my homework-geekness?
Honestly I am rather shocked at my lackadaisical procrastinating self.
I could get away it when school was all about folk dancing and finger painting, and bad spelling was cute and a story attempt with unreadable writing was still frame-worthy.

But not any more.
Year Five is breathing down our necks.
My husband is right. This is my job.
Making sure my kids are learning what they should be in school.
Not assuming that the school will do it all.
We can't afford assumptions at this point.
You know what happens if we ASSUME {it makes an ASS out of U and ME}.

The old Simone, the one who was the homework-geek with world-saving tendencies could have handled this no problem. That Simone would have been riding Dash's ass from Day One.
She would have found creative ways to get him learning his times-tables. She would have insisted that he tidy up his sloppy handwriting and practise his spelling words.
People described Old Simone with words like Diligent, Reliable, Conscientious.

Old Simone, where are you now?
Gone. She fizzed out years ago.
The now-Simone is more like Often-late, Last-Minute, She'll-Be-Right.

With all the best of intentions, I fear that I am so easily distracted.
I wander off-task. I lose track of the days.
I tell myself, "It's just this once..."
And consistency escapes me, again.

But I have to work with the Simone that's left, I have no choice.
Oh I fear I am not up to the task.
Really, can you hear me crying inside?
I am quivering, anxious, worried that I will fail at this my most important task - preparing my children to go out into the world.

It's not that I can't do it, when I remember to.
I mean, the Cinquain we came up with this morning was pretty great, I think.

I wrote up the syllable count on a blank bit of paper: 2/4/6/8/2
Then I asked Dash what he wanted to write a poem about.
Christmas. OK. Cool.

I showed him how to Brainstorm. Write down everything that comes to mind.
No, don't try and write the poem straight away, put all the ideas down first, then find words to fit.

I prompted him with questions. What words are to do with Christmas? What do we do at Christmas? What is the meaning of Christmas?
Presents. Santa Claus. Hang Stockings. Star. Angels. Shepherds. Jesus birth. Merry.

Here's what he ended up with:

Open Presents
Jesus birth, Angels sing
Santa Claus is coming to town

OK, so it's not Wordsworth, but it works.
He did his homework - even if it was at breakfast - and he won't have to lose his lunch break.
He went to school relieved and just a bit proud of himself.
I helped him. He learned something. And I learned something too.
I can do this, can't I?

Photos are taken up Mt Albert, my maunga, my place. Decoloured in Photoscape and with the contrast pushed up to make the blacks blacker.

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jacksta said...

I remember clear as day learning about cinquains in form 1. Talk about a blast from the past! I always hated them because I suck at creative writing. Its a good thing that its right up your alley!

I think they invented homework to torment parents!

Devour the words said...

Sadly homework is one of my parenting downfalls also. Afternoons/evenings are busy enough without homework.

The poem turned out awesome.

PaisleyJade said...

How come I never learned about Cinquains! Well done - and I love google for homework.

Gail said...

The thing with homework is that most teachers hate it as much as the parents! And in a lot of primary schools homework (not including reading and some basic math work) homework is only given because PARENTS have pushed for it! Crazy aye?

I know what a cinquain poem is. *smirk*

Haha. Im terrible at homework parenting. My poor kids.

Leonie said...

From one homework geek to another.
my kids homework drives me insane.
My girls love doing it, my very bright boy 'forgets' it nearly every day - see told ya he was bright!
Don't remember cinquain's either.
But a couple of weeks ago Miss 10 had to do a 'cloze' -- yay for google!!!

Leonie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carey Morris said...

What i hate more is when you have terrorised your reluctant son into doing his homework and the teacher doesn't even mark it! Grrr

remaliah said...

That's a great poem! I've never heard the word cinquain before. Google IS great for all of those strange words and unknown things.

Brigitte said...

I would have thought it was some kind of animal...?!
Never learned about cinquain through my schooling either...
I certainly don't envy you your homework nagging duties! This has yet to come for me but I'm not looking forward to my children outsmarting me... and this is bound to happen! ;)) x

Rebecca said...

I'm terrible with the whole homework thing too....2 of mine are self motivated and just do it, Tne other 2, well Ahhh I've given up on one of them!! I like seeing them running around and playing after school anyway, so guess I've never really pushed it too much.

Trees said...

Ugh, homework. Home is for learning other things, dare I say more important things? I am having to knuckle down with the girls too but I have to say I am not liking it one bit, I feel for your struggle.
And 'Adelaide Crapsy'?!!! That just about finished me off (so immature) and sums up my homework attitude.
Oh dear :-)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post lovely lady - I hear ya completely! I too was a homework geek but I really hate having to do it with Magpie - homework & playing kids games (endless games of Fish, Snap, Operation, Guess Who & Connect Four which she always spits the dummy on cos she hates being cut off!) are just not me!

I also can't stand having to help her practice the piano - despite the fact that I play the piano & have resumed lessons & it was my great idea that she learn it!!!

But I guess as at-home mums homework is more our duty than anyone else's (spouse) so I guess for me I will just have to try and establish a routine & make it habitual. When anything becomes a habit it becomes less irritating! And if we always meet our obligations as parents then I guess our kids will follow suit (you know the whole they do what we do thing).

But you know - you say you're rubbish at it yet look how you helped him get the poem together. Brainstorming is a great idea....will save it for when Magpie has to start doing that kind of thing.

And isn't it great - all the Mums ^ have fessed up and said they hate homework too....so you're in good company! :)

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