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.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A maze by any other name

Thai nicknames are weird. 

I've known people named:
Potae (a kind of snack food)
Estée (after Estée Lauder)
Almost every individual letter of the alphabet 
Speck of dust*

There are, clearly, no restrictions. Anything goes. But Thai nicknames aren't used like American ones- changable, casual, mainly used with friends and family.  

Thai nicknames are chosen at birth and used almost exclusively throughout a Thai person's life.  It's not on your passport or your bank account, but most of the time, it's the only name people know you by.  Believe it or not, plenty of elementary school kids can't spell their real name.  If you're lucky, they know what you're talking about when you ask them.

Our boys both have "Thai" nicknames.  M's is a derivative of his real name, and we use it about the way people might call their son Robert, "Rob".  Thai people use it, which is fine.  We like it either way.

But L's... It's weird.  It's not a form of his real name.  Whim picked it just before he was born, and somehow it just never fit.  Maybe it's because I love his real name so much, but I can never bring myself to use it.  Whim, to his credit, tries it work it in every few weeks.  And Whim's sister uses it exclusively, so his Thai cousins will use it (once they can talk).  He uses it for Thai class at school, but that's about it.

For the last year or so, he's asked if his nickname could be Maze.  The kid loves mazes; his brain probably looks like one.  He probably wants an actual nickname like everyone else.  And Maze is no worse than half his classmates' names.

But, while I could handle it as an "American Nickname", (like how some American people have odd nicknames like Scooter or Tiger whatever) I can't bear the thought of it being his true Thai nickname.  It would be on his school report cards, his social media accounts, his wedding invitations.... 

I would have a son named Maze.  Hopefully I can put it off a little longer - like until this summer.  Maybe by the time we're back in BKK, he'll have moved on.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The home stretch

It's the home stretch, and we are barreling toward the finish. Spring break is over, and the end of the school year is in sight. 

Fifty-three days until we fly out, and yes, I'm counting.

The other day I happened upon a family on IG who were documenting the adventures of their own year away from home.  They are traveling though Asia with their two sons, currently in Thailand, and basically living our dream in reverse.

There's another account I've been half-following.  A picture-perfect family, with deep pockets and beautiful children in designer clothing, that travels from beach town to beach town all over the globe, posing in grassy fields with ice cream cones.  They have been fun to watch, but it has been more like a movie than anything else. Their life and their travel, as gorgeous as it is, is nothing like ours will be.

But this new family, they have pictures of cheap street food, kids complaining about long walks, sweaty bus rides.... It's real life, just not at home.  Our year is going to be exciting, and special, and full one once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for Whim and the boys.

But it's also going to be long drives with bickering kids in the backseat, frustrating grocery store trips looking for safe food for the kids, and pinching pennies like we do at home. So this real, non-#goals IG account has gotten me more exited than anything else.

That, and having our car issue settled once and for all! (Thanks a million M&M!)