Capable, but Not Willing

Dear Buddy,

You had been getting in to trouble at school for not doing your classwork. Every day you come home with a little stapled packet of worksheets that you have “completed”. I use quotes because the worksheets are only the basest form of completion: you have applied crayon to the paper in some fashion…most times.


Your teachers tried all sorts of things to motivate you: helping you, giving you extra time, and then holding you back from recess and ultimately a visit to the principal. They were at their wits end.

Your father and I tried our best too. We bought workbooks for home that we thought you’d like and practiced with you. We went over your worksheets with you after school so you would see that they were important. Even your sister got in on the action and encouraged you to ‘Stay in the lines like a big kid!’ I told you that staying in the lines means you have a strong hand. Could you show me that you had a strong hand?

And then, one day, you did:


There was shock and awe followed by a lot of praise. You got pats on the back and a prominent place on the fridge. Even your sister gave you a hug…like the nice kind, not the chokehold kind!

But you made it pretty clear that this wasn’t going to be an every worksheet, every day sort of a thing. About twice a week we get fridge-worthy work. Most other days we get this stuff:


You are clearly capable, but not always willing to participate in the education machine. In fact, the empirical evidence suggests that you might possibly be…a Grade-A Smart Ass.

Of course, it’s been this way for quite some time.

It’s hard not to be just a touch proud (smart-ass-ness is appreciated in this family)…if also a touch irritated (we still need you to try!)

Categories: Buddy, Kids | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Capable, but Not Willing

  1. I’m an early years teacher by trade. Some kids just take a bit longer to be ready but for almost all it does come eventually. I think this is where the Swiss system shines as opposed to the UK and US. At least you know he can do it x

  2. Willfulness will take him far in life! This kid marches to the beat of his own drum – the world needs more people like that!

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