Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Our Friends

I've been spying on the amazing and hilarious travelling "four bags full" family on IG for about a month, and in that time they've already been all over northern Thailand, Laos, and Burma.

I couldn't resist following and introducing myself (not normal for me!) and when they came down to Bangkok, we ended up agreeing to meet up at the Children's Discovery Museum to get the kids together and chat.  

I don't know what I was thinking, because, honestly, I hardly even like planning to do things with my real-live friends!

But it was the best odd decision I've made in a long while.  The boys are all cut from the same cloth and ran off like cousins within 30 seconds of introducing themselves. 

V and I hit it off in that rare and wonderful way, where you can cut through the meaningless years worth of small talk and nonsense, connect, and get right down to conversation that means something.  (Whim just took pictures all the time, and G had to go pack, so their  bromance will have to blossom another day.)

Meeting this amazing family has me more eager than ever to hit the road and get our own adventure started.  If they're a representation of the sort of people we are going to meet along the way, we're in for the time of our lives.  Too bad we aren't travelling the same direction!!

El Deafo

Last week or so, I picked up El Deafo in the bookstore while the boys were browsing.  I ended up reserving it at the library before we even left the bookstore.  It is genius.

It's a quasi-autobiographical graphic novel about a girl who grows up using a hearing aid.  It could be about being deaf, or epileptic, or diabetic, or gifted or a million other ways that kids feel different.  On the most basic level, it's just about being a person, and all that goes on under the surface.  It is so relatable and special.  

I wish I had read it as a child.  Luckily, my boys got to!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Not bad

This year has been so wonderful for M.  His first grade teacher is amazing: she understands him, differentiates for his gifts, and has taught him so much, both academically and beyond.  Under her teaching, good days have been the rule instead of the exception.

Earlier this week, M came home from school bubbling with excitement.  His teacher had asked him to stand next to another student who had been having trouble keeping his place during their class readers' theater.  She trusted him to discretely help his classmate without losing his own place, and without detracting from the show overall.

His exact words as he shared his special responsibly: "I don't think I'm one of the bad kids in the class anymore!"  

I'm thrilled for him, but sad that he had to think he was ever a bad kid in the first place.  I guess you're bad if you can't pretend to learn the alphabet along with your classmates for two whole years, after you're already reading novels in your free time.

Only bad kids are not content to spend 3 weeks "learning" a number that they already know how to multiply.

If you can't sit silently through the same mind-numbing circle time questions every day, you must be bad.  (What day is today?  What day was yesterday? What will tomorrow be?  This would have entertained him for a few weeks at age 3.  But by kindergarten, he got no more out of those daily questions than you or I would.)

Poor kid.  It's not that we don't value classroom skills.  It's not that we don't see the point of lining up, waiting your turn, raising your hand, or being a good listener.  It's not that we think he's a special snowflake who should never have to be bored or sit through a lesson he wasn't interested in.

It's this.  That five days a week, for two years, M was told he was bad for something that he couldn't change.  He was constantly getting time-out, losing his sticker, or moving his bee because he was left with nothing to do for hours at a time but entertain himself.  And his teachers refused to change anything to meet his needs.  It was easier to just punish him dozens of times a day.

It's a rare adult that can sit through hours of redundant lessons (or meetings) without something to distract himself. I've seen plenty of adults pull out a phone after less than 15 minutes of something they already know.  M had to sit through it for 7 hours a day.

Why didn't I take him out of school?!  I regret that. I also could have transferred him to my room last year, instead of sticking it out in his classroom.

I thought he was learning self-control, but there could have been other ways to learn it that wouldn't have been so harmful to him.

Now I know better.  I will not make that mistake in the future.  We've seen how good he is with a teacher who lets him work at his level.  He is not a bad kid, but there are teachers have the power to turn him into one.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

First ever cup noodle

M's never had Cup Noodle. He was so excited to discover one he wasn't allergic to.

(It's actually a note shaped like a cup noodle.)

Who thinks of this stuff!?  Amazing!

Friday, April 22, 2016

M-isms today

Me: Can you read that sign?

M: Which one?

Me: That one, there.  Do you see that tall thingy?  Over by the pond, the pointy tower thing...?

M: The obelisk?

Me: ...

This happens every day.  M's vocabulary is outrageous.  What the heck kind of 7-year-old is throwing out words like obelisk? 

Then today after school, he asked why he never gets to make cool stuff, like sew a homunculus.  What!?   

Because he somehow retains everything he reads, he has known much more than I do- about certain topics- since he was 4 years old.  But lately there's been a shift. It used to be specific things that he knew more about: ancient gods, presidents, dinosaurs.

Now it's the opposite. Yes, I'm still "smarter" overall, because I have 25 years of life experiences over him and the general understandings to go along with the book knowledge.  But now it feels like there are just specific things that I know more about.  Math, essay writing, high school Spanish...

But he's the smarter person between us, and that feels weird. His vocabulary is better.  He learns faster and remembers more easily.  He knows more "stuff", like national flags and capitals.  If we went head to head in a trivia contest, he'd win.

Obviously, he couldn't go off to college tomorrow, or take over my job. He's still very 7 and has so much to learn about life.  It's a touchy job to teach and train a kid like him.  Give him a few parenting books and he could probably do it better.  But I am up for the challenge.