Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Friday: The Boy in Action

Youtube Boy

The Boy's school dedicates at least one Friday a month to what they call "Family Friday." On these Days, parents are encouraged to come into their child's classroom and join in on a project with their child, whether building something, artwork, reading, etc. — basically whatever their current curriculum consists in. My lovely wife and I work (a lot) so we take turns going, and my wife went to last Friday's festivities. Which was good, because the topic was (ostensibly) math, and that's squarely within her wheelhouse.*

Not long after she arrived at her work, my lovely wife sent me the following description of the morning.
Kid 1: "Is your dad coming to make paper planes today?"
The Boy: "No, he's not here today but my mom is here and she's really good at art and math."

Kid 2: "Can you make one of those cool paper planes for me?"
The Boy: "Watch me so that I can teach you how to make it and you don't always have to ask me to make you one."
Kid 2's grandfather to The Boy: "Is your dad a plane engineer?"
The Boy: "No, my dad teaches but he teaches me lots of things. Now watch me — this is the tricky part of the plane."

Mom 1: "Did you hear the "B" word was used yesterday during recess? Yes, two boys were fighting and one called the other the "B" word. The teacher had a talk with the whole class telling them it was a bad word and disciplinary action was taken."
Mom 2: "Gasp."
Mom 3: "Oh my god."
Mom 4: "Well, that happens."
Mom 5: "We know it's probably not [The Boy]; he won't even eat McDonald's without calling his mom."
Lovely Wife: "This coffee is good."
*I mainly stick to making the most awesome paper airplanes I can, thereby solidifying my Cool Dad status with all the five-year-olds.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I lic school

Though it contained little spring, last week was officially Spring Break. I earned a little time off from teaching, and Q and The Boy were intermittently off for parent-teacher conferences. (My lovely wife, as always, soldiered on in the Real World.)

Parent-teacher conferences for preschool always strike me as a little odd, and not just because we all sit on and around undersized furniture. What is there to talk about, really? And why do the report cards always have to be printed in Comic Sans?

Turns out, a lot — or at least in the little bit of talking much is revealed. Q has always been quick* to pick up just about anything, but she's a pretty solitary soul. As we learned in our conferences last fall, Q has grown more comfortable working with others, and this time around we hear that she's opened further still. (We did notice, though, that The Boy's first "high mark" at Montessori was in "Greeting" whereas Q still is "Working toward" this skill. Typical. Also typical, though, is her eclipsing his scores in just about everything else.) Overall, she's just so solid — she tries all the projects available to her, and will work them until she achieves something like mastery. She has even started to write the letters and numbers. And she's proud of herself and likes school, which is all that we're really going for at this point.

The Boy also continues to astonish. As I said before, his Kindergarten actually delivers academically, and since neither my wife nor I had similar experiences, we don't really know what he should be capable of. We also mainly see him at the end of a long day when he's tired all the way through and not particularly interested in reading. It turns out, according to his teacher (whom we like a great deal), that he's reading (above grade level) and doing all sorts of math. And he's writing so much.

My wife and I love the writing in no small part for selfish reasons. I fancy myself an author of sorts, so I like to see how words come out of his head. There's that time where my wife was joking around with The Boy, and he jetted away, wrote a little something on a piece of paper, rolled it up, and handed it to her. She unrolled a message that read: "I love the Red Sox," which, since my wife is a Yankees fan (or used to be, anyway) is about the funniest/cruelest thing her child could write. And then we find ourselves coming home to things like this:

To translate for those of you who don't easily read Kindergarten: "Stuff I like to do with my mom and dad. I love my mom and dad. I love to play with my mom and dad. I like to build with my mom and dad. I like to go on the train, sit on the train. I like to go to the park. I like to go to the zoo and look at the animals. I love the Star Wars Wii."

I haven't got much to add to that.

Sometimes I think we forget how much we ask of them. Writing, Thoreau once himself wrote, is our "father tongue, a reserved and select expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak." Not all that long ago, very few could read and write, and now we have our three-year olds muscle-memorizing the shapes of letters. How amazing that is.

Their bodies and brains constitute and confound them (though that doesn't really go away, I suppose). As they spurt and stretch in countless ways, we set walls to press them into pleasant shapes. I'm not sure how they do it — or how we'll do our part — but I'm glad that I get to watch and to participate. They make me want to be better.

*Sometimes we think that's what the 'Q' stands for. Goodness.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yeah, I'm scared of this

but probably powerless to resist. And don't get me started on the new Dora.

In any event, SlateV does a good job.

(And what was with all the hair in the 80's? I mean, I lived through it and all, but really.)