while or drive a used minivan that smells like french fries (been there, done that). And if he does, you want him to bear his hardships cheerfully, not collapse, remembering your threats echoing down through the years.
No, there has to be a positive motivator. Some people offer money. That might work except I’m not sure I have enough money to buy A’s from all of my kids. Some might offer something more concrete: a trip or a gift certificate.
It would be great if they could pursue the learning for its own sake. I believe in seeking the joy of accomplishment just because it makes you happy. And I think my kids believe in it, too. Just not during finals week. “Blah blah, Mom. Tell us again in the fall.”
So I have cultivated my own approach to academic inspiration that I call the Super Cool Action Hero approach. Every time we watch a movie where Angelina Jolie or Will Smith or Matt Damon blows out of a prison using common cleaning chemicals or employs some historic war tactic to overcome the bad guys, I try to point out that the Super Cool Action person would never have been able to do that if she or he hadn’t studied chemistry or history.
He wouldn’t have known that the leaves of that plant were poisonous or how to subdue that animal without biology. He couldn’t have solved the riddle of the evil man in the smoking jacket, escaping certain death, if he hadn’t read Shakespeare. He couldn’t have slipped through Bolivia unnoticed if he didn’t speak Spanish. Cool Super Action Heroes are almost universally well-educated. Lara Croft, Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne.
James Bond doesn’t count. He was all about the gadgets.
I hope this form of brainwashing, dripping on them while we watch action movies during study breaks, will inspire them, even as it annoys them. I am hoping that pointing out the brilliance of these characters will infuse my children’s study hours with a kind of epic coolness.
It that doesn’t work, I’ll try chocolate.