Every weekend in our house is blighted by the H word – homework. Our foster daughter has an entirely negative and belligerent attitude towards it, whether it is maths, literacy, geography or history.
She slumps at the table, face plants on a dinner mat groaning and pulling her hair.
‘I don’t get it,’ she complains, before even looking at the task.
I try to remain jolly and upbeat. The school have recently changed to topic based homework, which seems a lot more interesting and creative than the system they followed before.
‘Creative’ is the problem here. Our foster daughter cannot or will not access her imagination. This is a by product of the abuse she suffered as a young child. She had to become hyper vigilant, every watchful and switched on to high alert, leaving her no time to explore and develop her creative imagination.
‘OK, so you’re studying Shackleton and his exploration to the Antarctic?’ I try, enthusiastically.
‘Yeah, s’pose,’ she responds grumpily.
‘And you’ve got to pretend to be one of his men and describe how you felt, how cold you were, how hungry, scared and sad you might feel, and write it all in a letter?’
‘Hmmm,’ she mumbles, head still on the table.
‘So……..how do you think they felt?’
‘How would I know?’ She sat up and snapped at me, ‘I wasn’t there was I? How would I know?’
‘Perhaps you can use your imagination? Try and guess how they would feel…..’
‘Yes, you can, lets have a think about this….you’re cold, very cold, freezing in fact, with very little to eat, no prospect of rescue, thinking about never seeing your family again…..how would you feel?’
‘Yeah. I’d be fine.’
I decided to give up at this point. Sometimes I just have to celebrate and acknowledge its a miracle she’s alive. Homework can wait.