By the way, I know I've tended to sweet, fruity drinks this summer, but please rest assured that I have more in my repertoire than that. I just figure if you can't drink sweet, fruity things in summer, when can you?
|I bet if I invite the teachers over for cocktails, this will all go away.|
Lest we think that I don't value education, my mother, her parents, and all of her aunts and uncles were teachers, and the only reason I didn't grow up in a trailer park in Appalachia is that my great-grandparents realized the only way off the hardscrabble farms and out of the mills and mines was to get an education by any means available. I share those values, and I worked hard in school and have a couple of fancy degrees from schools that seem to impress people. I work in a university. None of this makes me better than anyone else, but rest assured, education is very important to me.
The problem is this: my corner of suburbia is infested with pockets of crazy, status-obsessed people who seem hellbent on living vicariously through their children. Case in point. In second grade, they test the kids to determine whether they'll be automatically screened for "gifted" placement for third grade and up. When they announced last fall that the second grade testing was coming up, I encouraged Tweak in a low-key way to give it his best effort, made sure he got a good night's sleep and breakfast before the test, and figured it would be what it was. I didn't really think about it too much.
A few weeks later, Tweak had his birthday party, and I was talking to the mom of a boy who Tweak particularly likes. We discussed setting up a playdate for the boys, and the other mom said, "Yes, that would be great - we have a lot more time now that cogat prep is over." I smiled and nodded, because I wasn't sure I was hearing her correctly, and whatever cogat was, possibly an obscure religious holiday or medical condition, it seemed to be behind us.
An hour later, when I was driving home, I screamed "COGAT!!" and almost ran off the road. She was talking about the Cognitive Aptitude Test: the test the kids just took, for which the school specifically said it was impossible to study. This woman, after her child had just spent a long day at school and had other homework to complete as well, made him do drills for The Test. God forbid he should fail The Test. If that happened, she might as well start downloading brochures about effective panhandling techniques and trying to find the *best* methadone clinics for him to frequent in the future, because he'll NEVER get into Harvard, and everyone knows if you don't go to Harvard ... wait, I didn't go to Harvard, and somehow my life continues to have meaning. How could that be?
|Apparently, this is the closest to Harvard I will ever get.|
If he hadn't gotten in, I had the perfect plan. While the other kids were doing their remedial reading, I planned to sneak him a copy of The Swiss Family Robinson to read under the desk, and his grandfather, a retired university math professor, could teach him number theory and theoretical physics on the weekends, and he'd be fine, except for the possibility that he might build an operational scale model of a coconut-powered Manhattan Project with Legos in his room.
As to the folder of summer work, it has sat, unopened. There is some kind of mystery prize in the fall for kids who turn in the completed packet, though I don't know whether it's good or lame, and Tweak doesn't seem to care. It's not as if he hasn't been engaging his brain this summer. He has been reading, learning a lot of new, thankfully non-profane, words, and asking very good questions about a wide array of topics. He has been writing in a journal and making up stories and games and burying himself in the sand and learning about orcas and and planets and asking questions about theology and history and politics and conservation that we have to research, because I don't know the answers. I didn't tell him to do any of that. He just did it, because it was interesting to him. They don't make a worksheet for that.
Besides, Tweak wants to go to Hogwarts, anyway. I bet Hogwarts doesn't have summer folders. Wait ... should I be researching test prep programs to make sure he gets into Gryffindor?
|Suck it, Harvard.|