ge-cruisinIt’s hard to believe that a mere three weeks or so back, Grace could only rock back and forth on her hands and knees and hint at crawling. Today she’s speeding all over the place and inserting herself into any number of nooks and crannies…from which she’s then unable to extricate herself, naturally. She’s also able to stand straight up with one hand on a piece of furniture or other object to steady herself, and more than once, she’s let go with both hands to pick up an object, with predictable results. Over the weekend we visited Nana and Big Daddy in Chase City, and Grace added stair climbing to her repertoire, crawling up the same four carpeted steps Scott first learned to climb on.

Scott meanwhile is teaching himself to read and is currently figuring out vowels. It’s always hard to tell where we are with Scott because if you ask him a direct question he’ll plead ignorance:

“What are the vowels, Scott?”
“I don’t know”
“Well, how do you spell your name?”
“Which of those letters is the vowel?”
“Okay, so then O must be one of the vowels, right?”
“I don’t know.”

Last night I took Jason to VCU for “Astronomy Night” and we learned some fun stuff about the planets, nebulae, pulsars, black holes and the lot. The auditorium was filled with homeschooled kids from Jason’s age on up into early teens, and whenever the presenter threw out questions about space and physics they piped up enthusiastically, usually with the right answers. Weird as it can be living with a kid with Jason’s brain, it was even more surreal being in a room full of them. Of course, much of the fun for Jason was just being out and about past his usual bedtime. Hopefully it made up for the night before, when he had a bad dream: Apparently there was an election (for what, I don’t know) and Jason received only 327 votes to Scott’s 916. Devastating.

Recently Jason was explaining to me how fast he could run around the yard and I told him maybe he could be in the Olympics when he grew up and he said, “Yes, and I’ll take my kid to see me in the Olympics. And I’ll buy him popcorn and drinks.” That would be very nice, I said. “Yes,” he answered solemnly, “I’m going to be nice when I grow up.”

3 thoughts on “Updates”

  1. This brings to mind a couple childhood anecdotes:

    I used to take Judo classes in a dojo right next to a Chess Academy on Calle Ocho here in Miami. After classes, us Judo kids would mingle with the chess kids. We later learned that the guy that ran the place next door was an eccentric chessmaster that fancied himself another Capablanca. He had a crackpot scheme of opening up a chain of chess academies around the country, a “McDonald’s of Chess.”

    Mostly what I remember about him was that he had an inexplicably attractive and meaty Cuban wife, a real Mae West type that periodically came around, who was rumored to cheat on him all the time. I believe it. I swear you could hear saxaphone music when she walked.

    To pass the time, us Judo and Chess kids would sing rhyming songs to the melody of McDonald’s jingles that called the Chessmaster owner “McPujo” (“pujo” being a Spanish term for a cuckold).

    The other story I actually have no memory of personally, but I’ve heard it retold by others:

    Around age four, I went to a pre-school run by uptight Episcopalians, and predictably after a very short time they called my Mom in for the “it’s not you, it’s us” speech about how I was an overly aggressive, discipline problem and so forth, and it would be in everybody’s best interest if I left.

    Mama, who had a very Irish temperment for someone born in the Soviet Union, angrily pulled me and the rest of those busybody, squawking, clucking hen mothers into the preschool book wall, and snatched a book out, and handed it to me.

    “Okay, read this.”

    And I did.

    “Ahora, este libro tambien.”

    She gave me a book in Spanish, which I read aloud.

    “Au Francais.”

    Another book in French, this time I read with greater difficulty.

    The way she tells it, Mama put her hands on her hips and looked at those PTA Moms with a “Booyah! How do you like me now? How do you like me now?” smirk.

    Apparently, the sole difference between a “problem child” and a “gifted student” is the ability to read in another language!

  2. Actually, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a great many “problem children” are gifted kids ill-served by traditional classroom instruction. I was something of a problem myself in my first 3 grades, but if it was a sign of intelligence, they beat it out of me soon enough, making me the champion underachiever I am today.

    A kid with an accelerated brain needs stimulation and challenge, and if he doesn’t get it from the curriculum, he’ll find some other way to make his day interesting. Sadly, the typical reaction of the schools is to classify this behavior as ADHD and medicate the kid into compliance. Voila, “socialization” is achieved!

  3. Heh! Three years you say? Try fourteen!

    I guess part of the reason I went into education in the first place is having been the ultimate problem child myself, I can offer something that other teachers can’t: insight into that kind of mind, what that kind of kid actually needs.

    I remember there were teachers that thought I had more potential than even I thought I did, and because they cared enough, they worked to help me develop that and turn away from really self-destructive behavior. I failed almost everything in the first half of high school but got straight-As my last year. Teachers can be the problem sometimes, but they can also be the solution. There’s a great misconception that come their teenage years, teens go temporarily insane and become clawing, crazed hormonal monsters. Teenagers want to connect to adults and have positive relationships with them.

    I really, really wish that every kid could receive that kind of relationship you’re talking about at home. I really, really wish that was true. But they don’t. Some of the kids I’ve got, no one has ever told them, ever, that they can do something with their lives other than count change.

    You know a few months ago, one kid slipped and accidentally called me “Papa.” I was absolutely stunned by the power of that. It become all the more upsetting when I learned a little about the kid’s home life. I obviously can’t give details, but let’s just say a teacher would probably see him a lot more than his real “Father” did. (And kind of ironic, since..well, you know me: like Picard, I’m a loner that’s uncomfortable with families.) The power – and the potential – of that hit me, especially if I was willing to invest my time…which unfortunately a lot of teachers aren’t willing to do, seeing their job as a combination babysitter and content information dispenser.

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