Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dr. Amelia writes to Chuck-ee's Mom.

What I would so dearly LOVE to do. However, I think the retention demons would not approve.


Dear Chuck-ee's Mom,

I have some bad news for you. We need you to come and pick Chuck-ee up tomorrow morning. Do not arrive before 11 - you seriously do not want to see the condition Chuck-ee will be in before then.

You need to take Chuck-ee to his own apartment, set him up with some information on finding a job that is not with your family or a family friend and leave him.

He will probably fail for a while, and go through a few jobs. This will be good for him and cheaper than college for you. If it makes you feel better, you can pay his rent and his health insurance for a while. Do not pay for everything. Working for things like a car and its insurance and his cell phone bills is part of how you will be helping him. People take the bus and live without smart phones all the time.

Here's the thing, Mrs. Chuck-ee's Mom: Chuck-ee is smart enough. He can manage to pull together some charm at times, and uses this to his advantage by getting others to look the other way as he does not meet his responsibilities. He is also extremely lazy and seriously, he needs to grow the frak up.

I know he was like this high school, and that with the help of kindly teachers who knew your expectations of them he managed to make it through high school and do pretty well.

I know you hoped that college would either be more of the same, or that we could fix him.

We can't. We shouldn't. We won't.

He doesn't need to see a therapist about his executive function issues. He doesn't need a learning disability diagnosis. Sloth is not a disability. He needs the cold, hard slap of seeing what the world hands to people who want to try as little as possible and always get away with something.

He'll be ok, I promise. Like I said, he's smart enough. But if you leave things the way they are, he will just keep breaking your heart.

Sincerely yours,
Chuck-ee's advisor, Dr. Amelia


  1. "Sloth is not a disability" is, in and of itself, worthy of a POW, in my opinion.

    1. That's a great line. I'll use it extensively.

    2. I want a tshirt with this in it!

    3. Bumper sticker bumper sticker! What about it, Les? Is this possible?

  2. But what of Siberia?

    I have a position open for a young zek......with hope, he could make norm setter in two years!

  3. "Sloth is not a disability."

    I am seriously tempted to use this line on a few current students.

    Also, I want to send this to my sister about my niece. But it would cause a serious feud. My darling niece is going to take 6 years to get a theater arts degree at a state U. Debt: over six figures. She is going to be SERIOUSLY screwed for life.

    My sister does not believe it will take her six years, even though she has failed three classes so far and has yet to retake either her DEVELOPMENTAL math class or her English Comp class. Ah----being a theater arts major at this school leaves you with LOTS of courses you can take that don't have Comp as a pre req.

    I did win the battle over letting her "just take Bella's comp class online so at least she will pass." WTF?

    1. As someone who teaches classes that don't require English comp or college level math, I firmly believe that all courses need to require these two classes. Ironically, passing college level Math is a stronger indication of passing Humanities courses than passing English. Something to do, I imagine, with logical thinking that turns up in both subjects.

      You might want to encourage your niece to look at work in theatre and film that does not require a BA, and requires, instead, technical training. You might be surprised how employable one is with technical background in lighting or sound, scene painting, or make-up and costume. Getting a beautician license might be a good bet. Not only do actors need someone to do their hair, but there are wigs to maintain and so on. You can even work in music doing this backstage work.

      The performing arts are one the last fields where practical skills are desperately needed, and where you can apply them in a field of really smart, engaged people talking about ideas. She could easily make a living. The trouble is that many people don't see the glory from the wings, and many people only equate theatre with acting. There is so much more she could do.

    2. Trish, these are such wonderful ideas, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest them!

      My ideas have not been met with a high degree of interest, but it is worth a try!

  4. Our DSS office needs that motto. The person in charge pretty much grants anyone "disability" status if they claim to struggle to do anything. The catch-all "executive function" category seems to render more than half of my developmental students disabled.

    I am very tempted to print this out and send it via campus mail to our DSS director.

  5. This could seriously be the student I posted about last week, and the mother to whom I gave unsolicited advice.

    What the frak is "executive function disorder" anyway? Everyone who claims to have it also says they don't have a formal diagnosis for it. Am I right is calling it by its real name, "Parental Justification for Lazy Child"?

    My apologies if I am 100% offensive here. I just have yet to read anything about this condition that actually legitimizes it.

    1. After a bit of googling, I have a sneaking suspicion that "executive function disorder" equals, at least in many cases, what we would once have called "immaturity." It is usually cured by age/experience (or, in a few sad cases, by doing something stupid enough to be lethal -- the sort of activity that makes one's last words "look at this!").

      Maybe it is a real disorder, at least for some people, and I suspect that the sort of counseling/coaching that counts as treatment might help a lot of people, but I'd guess that Dr. A's response is equally good: this is the sort of situation in which young people used to be sent off to join the military. In that context, Dr. A's solution is pretty gentle (and safe).

    2. '... the sort of activity that makes one's last words "look at this!" '

      Right! This brings to mind the Darwin Awards (given posthumously to those who take themselves out of the gene pool).

      Executive function occurs in the prefrontal cortex, which was the last part of the brain to develop in human evolution. In the past, presumably, those with poor executive function demonstrated their lack of reproductive fitness spectacularly. Perhaps we can thank them for the origin of comedy.

  6. Everyone seems to be enjoying the smackdown, but I feel like some detail s missing. What, specifically, did Chuck-ee do to elicit this missive to mommy? Did she actually show up seeking clemency on his behalf for missed work?

    1. I sort of imagined - and this is just my reading of it - that Chuckee showed up with a faux learning disability and the teacher saw through it.