Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SmartyPants Panic Attack

I'm having a bit of an anxiety attack this morning.  Esten is overwhelmingly excited today.  It's the first day of "Spike", where he will join a handful of his classmates for an accelerated language arts class that's part of the school district's gifted and talented program.  He's so giddy about it he wanted me to comb his hair 'just right' and he wore dress pants.  And asked about a tie.  Which I flat out refused.

I want to throw up.  He is in first grade.  FIRST GRADE.  FIRST.  GRADE.

I'm having flashbacks to my own participation in NOVA, the gifted and talented program of my era.  I'm trying to put it in perspective...but it just makes things worse.  I looked up the guidelines for the program which includes permission slips for testing beyond group settings or proficiency for regular grading, none of which I had seen.  I recalled being put through a battery of I.Q. tests, verbally poked and prodded and put under a proverbial microscope and talked about behind my back by grownups who were curious about my unusual smartness.  I saw none of that with him, other than the bizarre library book selections.  They always seem to contain subjects beyond what a first grader should concern themselves with, like the space-time continuum and black holes.  How watches are built and books filled with science projects.  For high schoolers.

I looked again at his report card.  After skimming it the first time, I did realize it contained a note that indicated of an expectation that they should read at a level "E" with 35 words per minute fluency rate, he was reading at a level "G" with 98 words per minute fluency rate.

Crap on a cracker.  When did this happen?

I'm freaking out because I know what happened to me.  It started small.  I went to first grade for reading and math when I was in Kindergarten.  Then after first semester in first grade I finished out the year in second grade in a second-third grade split class.  My best friend Lori didn't get to come with me.  It wasn't because she wasn't smart enough...she had gone through all those steps with me right by my side.  It was because her sister was in that third grade class and her parents didn't want them in the same classroom together.  Sibling rivalry.  I was forced to endure the sneers and verbal abuse of the older kids pointing out my nerdiness alone.  I spent the remainder of my years trying to blend in and minimize the fact that I was younger than everyone else.  It was awkward during transitional years.  Driver's ED, for example, had to wait until I was old enough.  Old enough was a phrase that raked on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard because my parents said it ALL THE TIME.  "You're not doing THAT.  You're not OLD ENOUGH."  Bagh.  Gimme a break.

But now, today....what I'm thinking is how truly insane it was that in third grade (when I should have been in second grade) in my 'gifted/talented' program, I was learning about the chemicals the Egyptians had stuffed up the noses of their dead in order to pull their brains out with hooks, and I didn't think it obscene in the least.  No biggie.

(Getty images)

Three mummies who have had their
brains dissolved and pulled out with
hooks.  No wonder I have nightmares.
I want my kids, both of them, to put a big huge stamp of themselves on their lives.  If this is who Esten is, then by golly, he should go for it.  I'm hoping that I can learn from my parents' mistakes and I'm glad that I've at least already recognized some of the same negative traits and emotions that Esten and I share.  I don't want him to be scared or shy or hold anything back in life because he'll miss out on so much if he does.

On that note...last Saturday was National Libraries Day (Turns out that it was in the UK and 'ours' is in April, but we're all in this together, right?) so we celebrated in the usual, predictable Lee family style: We bought the boys ice skating lessons. 

They make everything a competition,
but at the end of the day...
brothers support and lift each other up.
(Photo Courtesy Paramount)
In this turn of events, Esten went first, the instructor was amazingly great with both kids, and, as it happens, Clayton is something of a natural when it comes to wanting to spin circles.  They both loved it and want to do it again.  Soon.  With their current tooth situation now might be the perfect time for hockey....if Esten can take a break from reading.  It will have to wait a week or so since this weekend we're taking a long one to try to make up for that crapfest we had in McCall the weekend Grandpa Bud died and we were all just focusing on not pooping our pants or barfing on each other.  Esten's going to learn how to snowboard, and Clayton, who I promised could do "whatever he wants" with our special Mommy-Clayton time, has chosen prank phone calls.

Who's gonna get lucky Saturday morning?  Will it be you?

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