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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

By Ed VanDeMark



“Summer school again?”

“If you did your homework like told you, you’d get the summer off.”

“English is stupid.”

“What’s an adverb?”

“Is that…like aaaah…you know, like one of those lizards from South America?”

“Did you even show up to class?”

“You mean I gotta sit through crabby old Mrs. Wilson’s class again?”

“Is she the one teaching English this summer?”


“Who’s teaching American history?”

“Not that too.”


“But I wanted to go to camp.”

“46 isn’t a passing grade.”

“It’s almost half.”

“I’m impressed. I didn’t think you’d have a clue about what half is.”

“Why do I need to know about Bunker Hill?”

“Do you know anything about Bunker Hill?”

“I think his middle name was Archie.”

“And 51 in math doesn’t exactly impress me either.”

“It’s more than half.”

“I’d be more impressed with three quarters.”

“You can’t even buy a cup of coffee with three quarters.”

“And your point is?”

“Just forget it. I’m sorry I mentioned it.”

“And the answer’s yes.”

“You mean I can go to summer camp?”

“Wrong question”

“What’s the right question?”

“Dad, do I have to take math over again this year too?”

“Do I?”

“Until Mr. Morgan retires if it takes that long.”

“He’s just a young dude.”

“So what’s your point?”

“I want to go to camp.”

“Just call it Concentration Camp.”

We thought with test scores consistently in the top five percent of students’ nation wide he should produce slightly better results. The day he entered seventh grade he adopted the one acceptable grade policy. If he got 66, he’d worked too hard and if he scored 64 he’d goofed. Then I remembered how often I’d fallen asleep on guided meditations, and how I still ignore English grammar. I aced Gym, was pretty good in Art, but I failed music and Physics. I recalled Mrs. Nichols parting shot following my Latin one experience. “If you promise not to take Latin two, I’ll give you a passing grade.” Unfortunately for me my mother saved all my report cards and had the audacity to leave them in all places prying eyes were guaranteed to find them.

That was twenty years ago. Today he’s married, the father of three, one of which is his identical twin separated by a mere thirty years. He’s a senior enlisted man in the National Guard responsible for securing gates, bridges, and towers in Afghanistan. On the civilian side he’s employed to help people like me with stupid computer questions, and he’s a no nonsense part time police officer.

My wife and I had twenty one years to bring him up right and on the academic side all we managed to get out of him was chronic academic probation. Then a young woman, less than half his size turned him into the student we knew lived and breathed within him. Today he’s known for his excellence and diligence in academics, fatherhood and in his professional life.

Concentration Camp wasn’t the answer, but it was the best idea that came to mind in those frustrating years before our daughter-in-law came into our lives.

God is certainly good, but sometimes I think his timing stinks. Then again maybe it’s just pay back time.

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This article has been read 332 times
Member Comments
Member Date
M. R. Davenport07/31/08
I can relate to not understanding God's timing for sure. I loved the banter. It sounds familiar.
Sara Harricharan 08/05/08
Heehee! Loved the interactive dialouge here, it was just funny. I could definitely see it playing out in my head and I almost felt sorry for the having to go to summer school. ^_^ Nice job! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/05/08
I enjoyed reading how good your smart son was at making funny answers for real questions, and then how one girl was able to bring out the best in him. I'm thinking she'd never have been interested in him without all the energy and love you put into bringing him up.