Monday, November 24, 2008

Chips and blocks


Last week the cold came in and sat down. With fall all but over, the trees in the park crook up bare like dendrites and, like what they look like, are probably busy memorizing the year.

The ending of fall means parent-teacher conferences, and this year we sat in two sets of miniature chairs. And we discovered that both Q and The Boy are doing better at school than we imagined, mainly because they're confounding the types we imagine them to inhabit.

If you've been reading this blog for a little while now, you'll know how we think of Q — which is to say tough, quick, and a little stubborn (or, if you prefer, resolute). Being second born, she's also content to play and do by herself, and fiercely so. We therefore thought that she might not enjoy being in a classroom with sixteen other kids while being told what to do. Turns out that her independence has been a gift of sorts: she dedicates herself to all kinds of work until it's finished, and she isn't distracted by the doings of others. She's also grown more social; we hear she completes a puzzle every day with a friend, for example. And she does actually listen to her teachers. In fact, we hear that she listens intently, and I know the look her teachers are talking about — the one where Q fixes right on you, and you start wondering how soon her thinking will lap yours. Oh, and she knows the sounds all the letters make.

We also saw great parts of The Boy revealed in our conference with his teacher. We've been reading with him at home,* and he'll be reading quite well on his own pretty soon, I'd guess. But we didn't know that he can draw a diamond (and, for that matter, that that's rare at his age) and can recognize numbers up to 100 out of order. Okay, before I go on too long as a proud/bragging parent, here's the point: The easily frustrated and distracted perfectionist kid we knew him as while at Montessori somehow remained there. The Boy who shows up to PS 89 tries new things on his own, crosses out mistakes and moves on, teaches other kids how to draw and fold jets, etc. At one point in the conference, after The Boy's teacher said some extremely nice things about him and his place in the class, she offered, "I wonder what he's going to be when he grows up." My lovely wife responded (and I agreed), "As long as he doesn't become a lawyer or professor..."

Times like these it's hard not to look for yourself in them, but here again nothing is straightforward. The Boy looks more like me than Q does, and he obviously inherited my perfectionism and love of words. But he's also much more social than I am and more dynamic. Q is the spitting image of her mother and has an equally analytical mind, along with the same drive and determination, only more so. But Q also has my second-born independence and comfort with solitude. And surprisingly she has my even temperament (that is, when she's not wringing out the new babysitter in the mornings before school). We thought Q would be the artist, but The Boy has lately shown that he can draw out his imagination in some really clever ways.

Q and The Boy really are our better selves in many respects — or, to put it better, the better way to mix the good and bad of ourselves. It's been nice to see how others see them and to see what they're becoming, whatever it is.

*This is not my Naps And Milk Kindergarten — they read and write and do real math and the year isn't even half over. Sheesh.


Nadine said...

First a fashion remark: I LOVE Q's jacket!

Isn't it great to see the characters of your children develop?

The independent second born, that describes Roo perfectly too!

teahouse said...

Love the photo!!

I'm a dependent firstborn, hahahaha. Always needing positive reinforcement and reassurance!

Anonymous said...

I love this photo, too, showed it to my husband (who knows both individuals and agreed it was a great shot). Nicely done as always, Roblin!