Boo’s Reading: A Dog’s Purpose by W Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Purpose by W Bruce Cameron

On Wednesdays, Berns and I go to several appointments across town. There isn’t time to come home between them, but there is enough time to get some lunch and take a look around in a couple of shops. Sometimes we hit Edgehill Village, and there are other times when we go over to 12 South, but we tend to end up in Hillsboro Village most of all. There are a couple of restaurants we like there, Natural Selections has cats for Berns to pet, and one of the only really real bookstores in Nashville is on that stretch of 21st Street.

Berns hates choosing books. I can’t explain it because I don’t totally understand it. I mean, he reads an entire book just about every single day. I think it has something to do with the executive functioning/frontal lobe skills required to distinguish between choices and narrowing then down to a selection. He has a hard time choosing socks, so a bookstore has to be somewhat overwhelming even if he’d like nothing better than to read something from the shelves. So, when he asks for a book, I’ll go without meals to buy it for him.

W Bruce Cameron’s A Dogs Purpose: A Novel for Humans was such a book. We were at Bookman/Bookwoman in Hillsboro Village digging through the stacks when Bernie asked for this title. I looked it over, not really sure why he wanted it. When I asked him, he couldn’t explain it except to say that he really liked the subtitle — it was funny. So, okay. We bought it.

As is typical, he devoured it in about an afternoon. I tend to wonder if he actually reads the books or just flips pages, but I should know better. I’ve had a book-a-day habit since the 2nd grade. When I would turn in my the summer reading list, I always got a head shake from the librarian.

“Sure,” she thought, “you read 126 books this summer. Yeah right. And I’m the Last Emperor.” Sometimes they would actually say it out loud. Only I had read them and she wasn’t emperor of anything, much less the last one, and, in one of her rare moments of maternal pride, my mother would say, “Ask her anything. She remembers everything about all of those books.” She was right. I did.

So, I know that it’s possible and I’ve quizzed Berns enough to know he remembers what he reads. Getting it out of him is a whole different challenge.

I may have covered this already, but give me a little latitude. I have four kids and a dog and a husband and go to grad school and work and sometimes I repeat myself.

Back to the challenge. We learned through testing and lots of experience that it is just nearly impossible for Bernie to write. He can tell you in incredible detail all sorts of fascinating things, but when you ask him to jot it down you get unintelligible scrawl that, if it were actually words, might be about two and a half sentences worth. Putting him in front of a computer with a keyboard doesn’t help except that you can make out the letters he selected, but can’t really find words unless you are incredibly creative. It isn’t laziness. It isn’t obstinacy. It’s just not something Bernie’s brain is wired to do.

So, how do you get a book report out of a kid who can’t write and who has learned after years of being forced (at times he was actually strapped to the chair — another blog post, but the things *they* do in the name of therapy to kids with disabilities is just appalling) to produce written work that he sucks at it and doesn’t want to do it and can’t do it even if he did want to do it?

He dictates it as you type it into a word processor. You read it back to him. He corrects it orally. You post it to his blog. He tells his family and friends it is there. They respond. He’s thrilled and asks to do it again.

So that’s what we’re doing. Bern’s second review is up. Go take a look. And no worries, Berns avoids spoilers in case your inspired to read something he reviews.

What does homeschooling look like?

Boo with Blocks

As I’ve mentioned, I am an accidental homeschooling mom. While it isn’t my first go in the home education rodeo, it is still somewhat a new thing this time around. It takes some time to completely switch gears, rework your schedule and your life, and get some of the “now what!?!?!” out of your head and replace it with “here’s how…”

Boo is a math and spacial genius with a massive vocabulary, a love of reading, and an affinity for all-things electronic. He is not a writer in the sense that it is almost impossible for him to take spoken or thought language and put it into any written form. Keyboards don’t help. It’s as if his brain decided to use those circuits for something else.

So, if he can’t write, how can he be a genius? Let me first say that I don’t use this word lightly. Genius is as genius does, my grandmother would say. Yes, he tests off the charts in every academic and achievement assessment thrown at him. His IQ scores — as little faith as I place in those — are consistently through the roof. So, he has the paper cred. But without any of that, the reality is that we knew this kid was smart before he ever spoke his first word. It’s something just innate. The sad truth is that no one got to experience any of this brilliance as he was being bodily removed from classrooms because boredom turned into unsanctioned creativity.

I wish I could say that the minute I brought him home everything turned into a series of wonderful brain-stimulating activities interspersed with museum visits and park dates. Well, we have done each of those things, but the reality is that I’ve been in a denial-induced shock and only sort of half-committing to this thing. We have and use a core curriculum. I’ve bought a dozen magazine subscriptions that he reads cover to cover the day each issue arrives. I can’t keep him in books –he reads them faster than we get them from the library. He has robotics and electronic circuitry kits, craft supplies, and manipulatives of every type at his reach. He’s learning, but I haven’t really been in it with him.

We’ve been fighting some recently. I want him to do his educational stuff and he wants to do something else. I want him to clean his room and he wants to do something else. I want him to come to dinner and he wants to do something else. I’ve never had this kind of relationship with this child and I don’t believe it’s just a bunch of changing hormones.

The good news is that I think I’m finally coming back around. Yes, me. I think I needed an attitude adjustment.

Boo didn’t choose to be home with me any more than he chose to have autism or be brilliant or be a boy or be at all. He’s a kid who likes what he likes and has a pretty strong neurological excuse to be a pain in the neck. Yet, for the most part he’s a sweet child who really does want to be in relationship with folks — including and especially me — in spite of what his diagnosis might indicate.

So, this morning, after spending the week in a bit of despair about the whole thing, I relented. Instead of doing the “first work then play” mantra I’ve been harping on for weeks, I brought out an unopened block set that was stuffed into a toy bin the day after Christmas. I handed him the pieces and he had challenge #60 completed before I got the cards open. He completed 6 more in the time it took me to get my camera.

Champ the Weather Dog made his appearance and I kept my mouth shut as the two of them worked together rather than telling Boo to leave the dog alone and get back to work. We did hit the online curriculum pretty hard this afternoon, but it wasn’t a fight this time. It was a treat to spend the day with my amazing kiddo.

Even if it took me a while to get with the program.

Boo Petting ChampBoo and ChampChamp Helping Boo

Block Challenge 5

Boo’s Blogging

Boo and Champ


As y’all may know, I’m homeschooling our boy child. In an attempt to connect writing with his interests, he’s starting to blog about the things he does and reads. Since his favorite activities involve gaming and reading and the dog, I suspect there will be a pretty heavy emphasis on these things.

Anywho, if you’re interested in what Boo has to say about Rocket Boys, he reviews the book here. He also did a first-day on Terraria post that sounds fascinating even though I haven’t a clue what he’s actually talking about.

Ahhhh… finally a “cool” way to get some words out of this kiddo. I love homeschooling. This is why.

Homeschooling: Literature Appreciation Class

Literature Appreciation Class by Gina Lynette

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