What day is it?

I forgot my wedding anniversary. “The Kid” had a brief conversation with my husband about the issue. Apparently, I am really horrible at remembering dates. In my defense, “The Kid” usually has multiple birthdays- the real one (within a day or two of the actual date), one with my parents, one with Gammis, and one with friends. So in a way it is best that I have a general knowledge of the month in which the anniversary happens rather than be confined to a specific day. Amirite?

 

 

IMG_4149.PNG

Advertisements

Welfare Queen!

I was recently at a conference and decided to visit my folks since I was in town. It was near my mom’s birthday so I thought it perfect to see if they were up for a dinner. I called. They were interested.

You have to understand that my folks are super political and on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. Mom is a die hard Democrat and Dad is a die hard Republican. Trump versus Hillary. Visits with them can be a bit intense.

This dinner was of particular note. Dad was in a grumpy mood, talking about the issues of the economy, lack of initiative from the younger generations, the loss of “greatness” in the US. My mom was in a great mood. She reached the age of social security and received her very first check. Keeping the mood sort-of-kind-of light I called my mom a welfare queen since she was now receiving monthly checks from the government. A joke we can have in fun and goofing around. My dad’s face went stone cold- a grouse forming in his throat, hands folded on the table, eyes of ice. I giggled. My mom, not missing a beat, started waving her hands in the air and singing out loud that she was now a welfare queen and was using her check to take her daughter and unemployed (actually retired) husband out to eat. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was fantastic! Dinner carried on somewhat silently as my dad was in deep distress and my mom and I shot cross-eyed looks to each other in sweet, sweet victory.

Internal Debates…

So, I am in the midst of two internal debates regarding the future of the mathlete. One is how much longer I will hold out hope within public school. Yep, that old one. On the one hand I think that public school is the most brilliant way of disseminating massive amounts of information in a timely and structured way. The taxes taken from many to minimize overall costs is a wonderful investment of community dollars. However, it is also one of the slowest beasts on the planet to implement change. Glacial. And, with the continual overlap of unfunded mandates and constant push for measurable results in order to “manage” the system it is woefully behind the times, lackluster in appeal and killing the kids on either end of the bell curve.

 

search.png

Except, the children at the left hand side of the curve have rock solid advocacy and parental and lobbying organization that those of us with kids on the right hand side do not. This is where I think I see the problem and it rests with the hyper-focus and short term thinking by the parents of TAG kids. These parents constantly demand help, accommodations, differentiation and, ultimately,  individualized attention for their child/ren and drop the fight once their child/ren get through high school graduation. Toss their hands up and say they are done with the work. Which is a huge disservice to the community and to the socially or economically under-privileged TAG kids. I’ve started maintaining a TAG Google group but have noticed that the followers just take the information- no sharing, no interactions but a feeling of competition to collect information on camps, classes or tutors to get their kids into- it feels like a social vacuum. So, I am thinking that I can continue my desire to advocate for TAG kids but will place mine into a school that has less bureaucracy and more agility to reflect the changes in society and its economics. Why hold him within a system I think is broken (yet, fixable!) and will most likely not see any true change until he is well out of said system. In other words, are my politics ruining him? Him being the operative word and focus.

Which leads me to internal debate number two… technology. And, again, politics.

Earlier in the evening whilst working on his homework I overheard mutterings of “coding is dead” and plans to “become a YouTube channel star” mixed in with the idea that flat screen technology is the way to become rich and, eventually, famous. Why is it technology is thought of as a means to become rich? Is the idea of improving life really so tied to electronics at this point? I had to look up entrepreneurship -a word I hear 10 times a day or more on the radio, in podcasts or read in the papers- to make certain I understood the meaning. Innovation, profit, capital, economics, globalization, and competition were all used to define the word. Are we pushing kids to think that innovation and creativity are solely tied to money and that competition is a higher pursuit than collaboration? Is the history of milk safety and safe drinking water and sewage not taught as brilliant everyday uses of technology? Ack! I am tired of hearing about the latest person to become an instant star who hasn’t contributed anything to advance humanity. Where are the unsung public work heros of yore? I’m looking at you John Leal and you, too, Ester Pohl Lovejoy. With a moment of history in my heart and a determination to instill some electronic disconnect time I made my move. And I…

… sent him outside to use a shovel and move dirt around the back yard. Disconnect from electronics and enjoy some physics with still relevant ancient technology, perhaps tossing in a little Newtonian dirt mechanics for good measure.  Let him think about things outside, in the breeze, soaking in Vitamin D and offering him a little cash for hard work.

I think I am going to have to move him out of public school. I cant wait for good enough to happen for him. He needs to be able to expand his ideas of what it means to be successful and capable in this world. The social and educational pressures from his teachers and fellow students are narrowing down his self expectations and limiting what he thinks success means and what he can do within the world.

 

 

Of math and manners

I received this email two days ago from my child’s homeroom teacher. Apparently Ade was acting up in class, laughing loudly while playing a video game on his phone, so a note to me was inevitable. But sandwiched in the middle of it all was this sentence:

“A 6th grade girl asked me for help on her math test corrections yesterday, and since Aiden is gifted in math I asked him if he could help her.  He refused, and said ‘no’. ”

Of course, as soon as I picked him up from school I started in on the email’s message.

“Were you a pain today?” His answer was ‘yes’ just like all the other days. He has nothing to do, all his homework is done, it’s pointless. I know he is bored. I know he is not getting anything out of school so he sits with his phone. I also know that the teachers are ok with him preoccupying himself with games. It keeps him doing something while the rest of the class is working. But why, oh why, with a kid who is chronically board and frustrated would the teacher think it ok to ask him to help out other kids just because he is “gifted”?

I asked him what happened after he was asked to help the girl. He said she didn’t want his help and asked the teacher again to work through them with her. To me it sounds like she may have been embarrassed to have another student help. Her request was apparently ignored. And that was the end.

I think Ade dodged a bullet. He doesn’t have the gift of patience to work through math problems with her and most likely would have made the matter worse not better. He is a kind fellow by nature but wicked fast at computation and does not have an understanding that others do not figure things out as fast. If feelings had been hurt or frustration levels increased, it would not have been either of the kids fault.  Neither class nor teacher has stepped forward to offer the time to cultivate leadership skills with him. No, asking him to help with math questions was just a way to have Ade do the work of the instructor. And, I am mad. Disappointed. Sad. But we will persevere. I think I will work with him on how to not be so blunt with his answers. Offer him some tips on the art of conversation and the polite way to say no.  And, of course, remind him that eventually he will get to college where he may be the one who needs help. Only five more years to go!

 

 

 

 

 

A practical joker…

My husband, in a moment of reminiscing, told the tale of his boyhood shenanigans with fart spray on April Fools day while out hiking a couple months ago. I knew the tale being told was heavy on glory and extraordinarily elaborate for a 30+ year old memory than what was being presented. On the other hand, my son was completely absorbed in the whole story.

“How smelly was it?”

“Did you get into a lot of trouble?”

“Was it epic?”

My husband was holding court to an enthralled listener. I shook my head, gave a smirk, and proceeded to leave them alone with the story.

Epic? I don’t think so… but the bonding moment was more important.

That was until Chinatown over spring break when we happened upon this stuff…

51AkjCSAi4L._SY355_.jpg

Three glass vials of the most gross smelling, golden colored liquid a mom could possibly want her husband and child to get their hands upon. I protested. They were elated and made the purchase.

Within 24 hours of returning home the first vial was broken outside, on the sidewalk, with a mighty stomp. The smell was awful. It was everywhere. Including on the shoes that Ade wore to break the vial and then proceeded to track stench through the house, across the rugs, and out the back door.

Todd felt left out. He could smell the remnants of the vial in the house from hours earlier and quickly asked Ade to tell him about the event. Ade took him to the spot on the sidewalk and the two stood over it and admired the longevity of the smell and small oily splat. It was a bonding moment. Son had done what dad had done so many years before.

The next day, in the early morning,  the second vial was broken by both of them. This time it was much more methodical. Two brown paper bags were used. One served as the base, the second placed on top to keep shoes from absorbing the smell -both bags worked in tandem as a containment and clean up measure. It was a success. So successful in fact they brought in the broken vial sandwiched between the bags to show me. In the house. Where the smell from the day before was still lingering. I kicked them both out for the day.

Fast forward to April Fools day. There was one vial left. The lingering smell of the last two vials had just left the house but the story of Todd’s fart spray at school was fresh and exciting.  It had to be done and Ade was the one to do it. Legacy and all…

From what I understand Ade had been careful enough to place the vial between two paper towels prior to breaking the vial. He picked up the saturated towels, placed them in the garbage, and silently returned to his desk. The smell in the room was intensified by the unseasonably warm weather and lackluster ventilation in the building. The class was evacuated. The garbage taken to the dumpster and a firm finger waging was administer by the teacher.

When I picked him up from school Ade was surrounded by five boys, all giggling. A couple of them gave Ade a hearty backslap and their goodbyes. Ade was all grins.

He had his own epic story to tell.

 

 

 

I am the mom of a middle school mathlete.

This is a visual rendering of my life…IMG_3493.JPG

Yep, you see my compartment is a giant latte and lottery ticket (non winning might I add and statistically stacked against me to win my child would add). My child’s side is a compass and protractors. Somehow we found a way to live in harmony with one another. IMG_3502.JPG

I have learned to incorporate Lego’s into my home decor. He has learned to not talk in tech-speak or start his sentences with “dude.”

This is going to be fun!