Jason Graduates

Jason’s pre-school class graduated last night in a nice ceremony including a “march” (in felt “mortarboard” caps), songs from the kids and comments on each graduate from their teacher as the diplomas were handed out.

As a side drama, everyone in the place seemed to be having camera troubles. The guy behind my mom was cursing out his Canon video camera, a lady next to me hit the “record” button on her digital camera only to get a “Memory Full” message, and I discovered that the battery I’d just charged for my Sony now showed “1 minute” of remaining power. I also had the digital still camera, but the flash has a throw of about 11 feet and I was at least 20 feet away, resulting in dark images. The image actually looked better through the viewfinder with the flash off, but with no flash the little “shaky hand” icon comes on and it refuses to hold focus. I ended up saving my one minute for Jason’s diploma presentation and managed to catch it, thankfully.

I think they could make some money bringing a professional videographer in for these school events and selling the recordings to parents. Anyway it’d beat having everyone climbing all over each other, crawling down the aisle and standing on pews to get a half-decent shot.

Jason’s going to miss the kids at school; he made a lot of friends this year. He’ll also miss his teacher, Miss Jennifer, who did an amazing job keeping him focused and getting him to observe the niceties of group interaction, like sharing and waiting his turn. It also helped that he made a (girl)friend in Annelise, a blonde charmer who sticks to him like glue. Jason has always been a kid who wants to call the shots, while Annelise was always a follower. Together they’ve reversed their roles, with Jason at Annelise’s beck and call, and Annelise perfectly willing to take charge. It’s been a good situation for both of them, and as a bonus Scotty’s taken to Annelise’s little sister, Celia. Their parents are great folks, too.

Last night after all the pomp and circumstance, the kids ran around squealing and it took some doing to get Jason and Annelise to hold still for a photo in their caps. I managed it, though, and Annelise even put her arm around Jason and gave a big smile for the picture. Which of course turned out blurry.

Wal-Mart’s Video Troubles

This is actually old news now, but it’s still worth posting. Seems Wal-Mart is being haunted by some old videos they had a freelancer shoot for them years ago. At issue is whether the videographer was really hired “on a handshake.” If he was, he retains ownership of the videos he shot of Wal-Mart meetings, parties, commercials and casual gatherings, capturing moments that range from politically sensitive to professionally embarassing to legally damaging.

Very interesting stuff considering I shoot videos at my day job, and I have the same love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart I imagine most Americans do.

Too Smart for School?

We pretty much decided before we even had kids that homeschooling was the way to go, but now that Jason and Scott are in our lives, we’re more convinced than ever. The boys are both frighteningly intelligent, and public education is ill-equipped to deal with gifted kids. In fact, as this TIME magazine article details, it’s probably about the worst thing that could happen to them.

Jason at 5 is reading on a third grade level and mastering second grade math, with a relatively recent interest in geography. As his pre-school wraps up this month, we’ve been reminded to sign up now for school, but honestly I can’t see sticking him in an environment geared towards keeping every student in lockstep, regardless of their abilities. That’s fine for those in the middle, and challenging for those who have trouble keeping up, but it’s got to be torture for any kid who’s ready to move ahead, and isn’t allowed to.

I don’t really blame the teachers, some of whom are actually good at what they do. But it’s only logical that in a class of say, 20 kids with one teacher, you can’t implement multiple curricula to cater to all your outliers; it’s just more practical to keep everyone on the same page. But it’s equally obvious this kind of approach isn’t ideal for helping kids live up to their potential. Here in Virginia there isn’t really anything geared toward gifted kids until 3rd grade, by which time they’ve probably had most of their gifts beaten out of them.

Since everyone’s chief objection is “but what about socialization?” I’m heartened to read in the TIME article that gifted kids often do very well when placed with older kids, and not so hot when stuck in with their “peers” (age-wise) if said peers aren’t on their academic level. That almost seems counter-intuitive, and certainly goes against the grain of educators who are more interested in kids assimilating than learning. But considering their efforts at forcing socialization on kids has given us screaming success stories like the Columbine massacre, I won’t put much stock in what professional educators think. (All the emphasis on political correctness and sensitivity to “diversity” has also produced bullies who try to kill their classmates with food allergies, which is another excellent reason to keep our boys as far from public school as possible).

Still, all the logic in the world can’t keep me from second-guessing our game plan, as like any parent I just want what’s best for my kids. Later this summer we’ll attend a conference for home educators to pick out some curriculum materials and get some more advice on what we’re jumping into. Wish us luck.

It’s A Girl!

Well, incredibly we’re up to Week 20 now with our latest pregnancy. Laura had an extensive ultrasound Monday and everything looks great, thankfully. Strong heartbeat, head the right shape, bones the right size, body the right weight and all that.

And it’s a girl(!). I had a feeling it was, but it’s still surprising after two boys, and I’m left wondering how on Earth I’m going to raise a daughter. The boys are cool with getting a sister, if a bit disappointed to know they won’t be moving into the biggest bedroom in the house after all (the plan was to turn the guest suite into a “boys’ dorm” if we got to three).

At this point, the plan is to name her Grace Elizabeth, after a dear family friend of Laura’s, and her grandmother. I’ve got four months or so to get my head around the notion that I’m going to be a dad again, and try to remember how I got through delivery the last two times, so I’m not totally useless to Laura when the day rolls around.