...your teacher probably wouldn’t be too impressed with ‘bored, hungry, this, is, stupid’.
I found him hunched over the desk, staring at the screen as though he was trying to decipher something. It looked promising so I had a squint over his shoulder. The document was as blank as it had been when I’d last poked my head in twenty minutes ago.
“Genius doesn’t burn, I take it?”
“Genius is a damp squib,” he muttered.
“With a grasp of metaphor like that, I’m surprised you’re not done yet.”
“Dad…” He drew out the sound.
I perched on the edge of the nearest chair and regarded him.
“I hate this!” he snapped.
“Tom, all you have to do is put one word after another. Not rocket science, now is it? I mean it’s best if you put some thought into what they are… your teacher probably wouldn’t be too impressed with ‘bored, hungry, this, is, stupid’.” He didn’t even crack a smile and I sighed.
“What is it you’re meant to be writing again?”
“A review of this book we read.”
“Well, start by working out what you liked about it.”
“I didn’t. It was awful.”
“Alright,” I rubbed the side of my nose. “What you didn’t like about it.”
“It just… Wasn’t my thing.”
“Then say that. But tell them why.”
He huffed, giving the laptop the evils again. I reached deep within myself for the reserves of patience I hadn’t thought I’d need once he grew out of repeatedly asking me who would win in a fight, a vampire octopus or a zombie squid. When I’d considered being free of homework forever, I’d had no idea of the pain and frustration of trying to get someone else to do it.
“My teacher always told us that we were allowed to hate something providing we hated it intelligently. So did you dislike the character? The plot? The structure?”
“It was trying too hard,” Tom said eventually. “It didn’t ring true. Like the author was trying to use someone else’s words to make it sound like he knew what he was talking about.”
“There you go! Get that down.”
He typed intently for a few minutes and I watched a few sentences take shape.
“Now what?” he asked, looking up.
I just smiled, waved and made my escape. Hopefully I’d lit the fuse: he just had to look for it.