“How was your American Government test Nate?” Nate had been studying hard for at least one week, both independently and with me in preparation for his first test. This semester is turning out to be a tough one for Nate. There’s no course in his Graphic Design major, and those are the ones where his strengths are most clear.
“I think I mostly passed.” Now what does that mean?
Elise grimaced and told me she thought he failed, but that he probably got half right. She knew that he knew more though. That’s always the most difficult part, knowing how much effort he puts in and how erratically he puts out. I’ve studied with him for years, and he can get a 0 or a 100, despite identical dedication and work. The noble me feels that what’s important is that he tries hard. The baser me wants him to get good grades.
Since the test, Nate has been harping on the result, which we don’t know yet.
“I don’t want to fail! I want to do better!”
“Nate, I think you should study all your class notes every day. If you want to pass you have to work harder.”
Some grumbling, not much. Connecting the need for increased effort to improved results is a skill Nate doesn’t come near having. I was reminded of an earlier episode, a rare moment when Nate recognized his social situation.
This was in high school, maybe 10th grade. Nate was sitting in his favorite chair in front of our oldest color TV. That’s his station. As I walked passed him on my way from the kitchen to the big TV room, he spoke.
“I don’t have any friends.” He said it devoid of inflection, but the fact he said it at all stunned me. I always took great comfort in Nate’s asocial-ness. I figured if he didn’t realize how alone he was, then he wouldn’t be sad about it. But he knew, and he was.
So I turned left and plopped myself down into the blue damask sofa behind his seat.
“Nate, if you want friends, you have to talk to people. You can tell them the things you like doing and are interested in, but you have to ask them what they like too.”
“OK, I’ll try,” but he replied disinterestedly. He was past it already.
He’s never mentioned friends since then. I don’t know whether he thinks about it much or not. At school, he’s a bit more social; at home much more so.
But does Nate really know that how he acts leads to certain results, whether in his studies or his interaction with others? I don’t think so and I still don’t know how to teach him that.