“Write what you know,” as the saying goes

September 16th, 2011 · 41 comments

When Shelby‘s third-grade son was having trouble with his homework assignment (two paragraphs of creative writing a day), her suggestion was to just write about what came to mind first. As she realized later when she found the page in a stack of old school work: “He did not hold back.”

My evil mom forced me write these horrible words. Five times each. And she tortured me by making me write 200 words. Now my arm hurts really bad. Now she's torturing me some more by making me write this stupid two paragraphs. I wish that she will stop torturing me!

related: “Drunk Mommy

extra credit: “Don’t Write What You Know” [theAtlantic.com]

FILED UNDER: kids · Moms & Dads · most popular notes of 2011 · San Diego


41 responses so far ↓

  • #1   21skulls

    Am I the only one that hears this in Napoleon Dynamite’s voice?

    Sep 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm   rating: 32  small thumbs up

     
  • #2   Chris

    I am really surprised, most adults don’t even write out numbers that are less than 10, yet this third grader has it down.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm   rating: 30  small thumbs up

     
  • #3   Amy in Toronto

    Shelby’s next move should be to take her red pen and go through her son’s spelling and punctuation errors and then make him provide an improved iteration. Evil moms who encourage the completion of school assignments FTW!

    Sep 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm   rating: 53  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Hanna

      I would absolutely do this because I like to torture my kids. The other day I made him write the letter “f” 25 times because they’re generally illegible. He cried. Handwriting is actually part of their grade this year, so I’m not totally out of left field with this…

      Sep 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm   rating: 23  small thumbs up

       
    • #3.2   BrookeDiz

      A third-grader who can spell “torture” correctly needs no editing.

      Sep 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm   rating: 32  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #4   thrall

    I give total kudos to the kid for writing in complete sentences!

    Sep 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm   rating: 36  small thumbs up

     
  • #5   bob loblaw

    I’m calling bullshit on this one.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   MrCreepy

      We’re not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw.

      Sep 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #6   Quite Contrary

    At least he didn’t ask his mother to email him an explanation.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #7   Nunavut Guy

    Damn,just beat the child and get it over with.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm   rating: 14  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   Sensible Madness bang

      Obviously you’ve never had kids. Beating them isn’t an option: They’re small and they squirm a lot, so it’s way too difficult to beat them in a way that won’t leave a mark where someone else will see it. This is why we resort to psychological torture such as that outlined in the note.

      Sep 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm   rating: 59  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.2   CaptainC

      Sensible Madness is right. When torturing children psychological is really the way to go. Forcing them to inflict pain on themselves by writing until their arms “hurt really bad” teaches the lesson better. You don’t even need to chase them or make awkward explanations to neighbors as to why they heard screams of pain.

      Sep 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm   rating: 16  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.3   Nunavut Guy

      What you say makes total sense.Now I have to redesign basement.

      Sep 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm   rating: 23  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.4   FeRD bang

      Oh, pish-posh! “Abbatoir” / “Block of flats” / “Subterranean Edu-lignment Center”… really, it’s all the same thing. Hardly more than a coat of paint and a couple of layers of soundproofing to separate any of ‘em. You’ll be back on track before you can say, “Now spread ‘em wide!”

      Sep 17, 2011 at 8:12 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #8   unsatisfied

    I’d give him an A-plus.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   Chris

      WTF is an “A minus plus”?

      Sep 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm   rating: 12  small thumbs up

       
    • #8.2   Madrias

      Just an A, I guess.

      Sep 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

       
    • #8.3   FeRD bang

      An upside-down Ɐ±, obviously!

      Sep 17, 2011 at 8:18 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #8.4   unsatisfied

      a-holes….lol

      Sep 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #9   Ruthie

    This is a LiveJournal user waiting to happen.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm   rating: 15  small thumbs up

     
  • #10   Amstrad

    I applaud the author’s use of adjectives. I wouldn’t expect a third grader to bother with them.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   The Elf

      The ellipses. Oh my god, the kid used ellipses. I’m getting all weepy.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:17 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #11   We shall speak anon

    Metafiction at its finest.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

     
  • #12   Lucy

    An FYI: I feel terribly guilty for the nights and weekends in second and third we forced our daughter to work on her handwriting when it turned out that she had dysgraphia. This is often packaged with ADHD. Another symptom is difficulty tying shoes beyond the time other children learn. Her handwriting cleared up like magic with her first dose of prescribed medication and dietary changes to add more Omega 3.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   shesajem

      Yes, giving children drugs is always the answer.

      Sep 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #12.2   bailey

      I hated my mother for giving me drugs…..
      I used to want to force them down her throat to make her feel the pain they caused me, and say “bitch”

      Sep 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #13   neeners

    more like it was torture because he had to work instead of playing video games.

    Sep 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

     
  • #14   anonymous

    STEPHEN ROOT IS A KLINGON!

    Sep 17, 2011 at 12:43 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #15   Tessa

    Awesome Atlantic article to attach – good read!

    Sep 17, 2011 at 1:15 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #16   Maria Droujkova

    This would be funny, except…

    The kid seems to be in physical pain. This means the wrong posture and possible health problems later (when he writes or types more, keeping the wrong posture). Carpal tunnel is just one of many examples. The boy, most likely, also holds his breath too much. It is a frequent mistake young kids make while writing by hand. It does feel like torture if it goes on for more than a minute or so.

    Translation:

    Dear Mother,
    Please help me learn healthy study habits and writing skills! I don’t want to feel bad and to hurt myself. I promise to let you teach the grandchildren too if you do!

    Sep 17, 2011 at 7:15 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   Captain Hampton

      Nope, still funny.

      Sep 17, 2011 at 7:49 am   rating: 15  small thumbs up

       
    • #16.2   FeRD bang

      “Still?” I think that little backdoor pilot for “The Whiney Snot Whisperer” that we were treated to, up there, makes it about 1000 times funnier!!

      I hope it gets picked up as a series! Next episode, I hear she diagnoses precisely what type of hugs Little Lord Fuckington is secretly crying out for, simply from what color magic marker he uses to scribble on the dining room wall!

      “Yeah, dude! It looks riveting!” –Kyle Broflovski

      Sep 17, 2011 at 8:40 am   rating: 17  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #17   the teacher

    I am a third-grade teacher, myself. This is completely believable. I’ve seen similar essays written about me multiple times.

    Sep 17, 2011 at 8:37 am   rating: 25  small thumbs up

    • #17.1   The Elf

      I hope you take it as the compliment it is, “evil, mean” teacher!

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:16 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #18   divaandwriter bang

    I predict that this kid will turn out to be a bestselling writer of psychological/supernatural thrillers, and that he will dedicate all of his novels to his mother, who encouraged him to write by torturing him.

    Sep 17, 2011 at 11:48 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

     
  • #19   Cady

    Billy! This isn’t even in cursive! You’d better get your ass back to that desk, bucko. NOW you’re gonna learn about torture!

    Sep 18, 2011 at 10:34 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #20   Augie

    I think it’s hilarious. I would have had him turn it in.

    Sep 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

     
  • #21   havingfitz

    Such mixed feelings here. The adult in me wants to tell the kid to quit whining and just do as he’s told. My inner child remembers the battles I had with teachers when the answers ‘had to be in complete sentences’. It really did feel like torture when the old bats couldn’t just accept ‘yes’ for and answer and wanted to know why it was yes. So I’m not without sympathy for him, but if I had to go through it, then why should he get a break?

    Sep 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

     
  • #22   CardiFan

    This reminds me a lot of the elementary student I have been tutoring for the past few years. He went from barely passing math to it being his best subject, and yet I’m STILL the cruelest human being on the planet for actually making him do his homework rather than just playing hangman all session.

    Sep 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #23   Sarah Jensen

    I’m surprised he didn’t mention that on the day he was born–and for all the days after–his mother tortured him by naming him Shelby.

    Sep 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #23.1   shelby

      I’m the mom. My name is Shelby…and it is 100% real.

      God bless him. His teacher says he excels in creative writing. Now, if only I could figure out a torture to get him to excel at cleaning his room.

      Sep 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

       
     

Comments are Closed