Posts Tagged ‘studying’

The Study Workout

Posted: October 14, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jerry walked into the dining room. Seven-year-old Fran was sitting near the aisle that led to the kitchen, across from ten-year-old Katie. Katie was buzzing along, like she always was. Fran had his head resting on his hand. He was doodling pictures in the beat-up plastic tablecloth that covered the dining room when they didn’t have company.

Jerry put his hand on the back of Fran’s chair. “Hey, bud,” he said casually. Fran looked up. So did Katie. “It looks like you’re having trouble with multiplication. Let’s go study in the kitchen.” Fran’s mouth hung open. He looked like he was about to get punished. “Come on.”

“All right.” Fran took his books and went in.

Katie wondered what was up. “How about you? Do you need help with anything?” Jerry asked.

“Can we go over science later?”

Jerry had been hoping to watch football then. Oh well. “Sure.”

Marie smiled and went back to studying.

Jerry got glasses of water for both of them. Fran took a sip. “I can get it. I just can’t remember all of them. Especially the higher-number ones, like seven and eight.”

“Those ones are tough. Seven’s weird. I had the hardest time remembering eight times eight when I was your age.”

Fran tried remembering. “72?”

Jerry almost told him. “Try again,” he said.

He squinted hard. “I can’t get it.”

“Try again.”

“I don’t know it.”

“Break it down. Remember how we shovel snow? In chunks. We break it down into pieces we can handle.” Fran looked like he’d just spoken to him in Chinese. “Look at this.” He laid out eight eights with plus signs in between them. “Eight, eight times. You add them all up and you get the answer.” Fran shrugged. “Tell me the first couple multiples of eight that you know.”

“Eight. Sixteen. Twenty-four.”

“Okay, good enough.” Jerry pointed at the eights. “Eight, plus this one is sixteen, plus this one is twenty-four.” He put brackets around two sets of three. “This one’s 24. So’s this one. And this one’s 16.”

“I hate it when the teacher starts using those bracket things. I don’t understand why she can put them around one set one of numbers and not another.”

“Well… we don’t have to use them.” I covered the numbers with my hands, so that we could only see three eights at a time. “You get that each of these sets of three eights adds up to 24.”


“Okay. So 24 plus 24?”

He did the math. “48.”

“And 16?”



Fran sipped his water. “That’s weird. But I get it.”

“Now the bad news. Tricks like that help, but you have to memorize the numbers, too.”


“There isn’t a shortcut.”

“I hate this part.”

“I know. We’ll do it until you get the whole eight times table right.”

“That’ll take forever.”

“Every time you get one right, I’m going to do a pushup. How does that sound?”

Katie called in, “If you’re going to do pushups for him, you have to do situps for me!”


Put Down Those Books, Young Man

Posted: August 25, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , ,

buried in booksGreg flipped the page on his chemistry homework. Well, not homework. He’d finished that around 7:00. Now it was 9:00, and he was studying to get all of it into his head. Maria was on the phone with her friends, and his brother Phil was playing Call of Duty online. Greg was studying, like he always was. He was tough enough for excellence.

“What’cha doing?” Dad asked. Greg looked up. Dad looked like he just came from working out downstairs. He was wearing a hoodie and gym shorts, and holding a cup of water.

“Chemistry.” He turned the book toward him. “Organic. Hybrid bonds.”

“You’ve been working pretty hard lately.”

Mom was coming in from the living room. Greg put down his pen. Something was up. He yawned. “I guess. Something going on?”

He and Mom looked at each other. “All right,” Dad said. He sat down in the chair next to him. “We think you’re working too hard.”

Greg leaned in close. “What the fu… what? Are you kidding me?”

Mom said, “You pulled an all-nighter last week. In high school. Nobody should be pulling all-nighters in high school.”

Oh, was that all? Greg shook his head. “Not a big deal. I got behind on a paper, and I had to wrap it up. Maybe I drank too much coffee, but I’m all right now.”

“It’s not just that,” Dad said. “You’ve been sleeping six hours a night all year.”

“I’m getting straight A’s.”

“There’s more to life than work,” Mom said. “Having a girlfriend. Having friends.”

“What, you’re disappointed that I don’t have a girlfriend? I can’t relate. I’ve never had friends. You always told me to stay away from the other kids, that they were too rowdy.”

Dad rubbed his temples. “Dude, you’re becoming me. When I was your age, I couldn’t handle girls either. I couldn’t handle life. So I got straight A’s instead. Thing is, I had blinders on. Sooner or later it’ll hit you in the face. There are lots of things that you will never learn in a book. Maybe look at it that way. We want you to start learning from experience. Keep in touch with us, ask us questions, but start learning outside the classroom.”

Greg didn’t know whether to yell hallelujah or yell at them. Getting good grades was all he was good at. He was two years away from Harvard or MIT. Now they wanted him to settle. He didn’t mind not working, but this was going to mess everything up.

Mom said, “You need to learn to take care of yourself. You can’t just drive yourself into the ground.”

“I’m tough enough. I can do it.”

Dad sighed. “No. You can’t. Not forever. Sooner or later, you will reach a mountain that’s too steep for you to climb. We’re stopping this carnival ride. From now on, your bed time during the week is 10:00.”

“My grades’ll drop. Kiss Harvard goodbye.”

“I’ll put on lipstick and kiss it myself,” Mom said.

Greg shoved back his chair. He looked at both of them. He was more scared now than he’d ever been. Climbing a mountain was one thing. Walking into the unknown? Now that was scary.

This post was brought to you by the prompt “effort” from The Daily Post at