Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's Never Too Early

There are still two weeks until the start of school. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I very much want my house back -- to be able to clean, sort, organize, store and not have the chaos reappear instantly; to not have to answer questions or get someone something right now because they've forgotten how to delay gratification; to have some down time without having to orchestrate it first. On the other hand, with only two weeks left, I've heard nothing from the school team to set up all that needs to be ready for the first day of school for my son. (I have some angst for my daughter as she starts a new program in a new school this year, but she doesn't have her brother's issues (only her own) that require an IEP.)

But what's really sticking out on my "What Has to Happen in the Upcoming School Year" list -- making me want to postpone the start of school for a couple of years -- is my son's Science Fair project. A child's Science Fair project assumes nightmare proportions to parents, increasing exponentially as it gets closer to "D-Day." D for Display Day. D for Defense Day. D for Desperation Day.

My son already has a good idea of what he wants to do this year -- something to do with wind energy -- so we're a fair step ahead of last year. All to the good. And all because we started talking about it the day we schlepped home from last year's Science Fair. However, his project is on a topic neither his dad nor I know anything about. While we can see which way the wind blows, run like the wind, or bow before the winds of change, we don't know how to build a windmill, collect and store the energy, measure the energy collected, or transfer the energy to make it available for use.

Perhaps the answers are blowin' in the wind.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, but only after you finish your homework

My son's birthday is later this month. He'll be turning 12. This is an amazing thing from my perspective -- my oldest child is turning 12 and is going into 7th grade. Holy cow!

As you might expect, his birthday wishes have changed quite a bit over the years. No more Thomas the Tank Engine, no more Legos, no more Bionicles, no more Pokemon cards. What has the boy wanted the past few birthdays and Christmases? Video games -- and unlimited time to play them. Over time, we bought him a couple of systems and a fair number of games.

I'm sure you can imagine my son's distress when the PS2 died without possibility of resuscitation some weeks ago. (We had brought it back to life once before with Q-Tips and alcohol, but no such luck this time around.) It gives new meaning to "weeping and gnashing of teeth"! Unbeknownst to him, we decided that we'd upgrade his PS2 to a PS3 for his birthday.

Remember I said that his birthday is later this month? So is the start of school. No matter how you look at it, it just isn't fair to give a kid a new gaming system and/or game and tell him that he can't play it because he has to go to school. And given that he has OCD characteristics and "OCs" over a new game for days, even weeks, the first time he plays it, it's very unfair.

Another factor in the equation is that he has summer math homework. It's not hard -- just review from 6th-grade Pre-Algebra. And he's allowed to use resources, including parents, for questions he might not have learned or doesn't remember. But there are 149 questions.
He'd rather do just about anything than his homework, so it's been a bit of a struggle to get him to finish. At our insistence and with much grumbling, apparently on both sides, he's worked on them all summer. He has maybe 25 more to go.

We brought home the PS3 yesterday, and now it's the carrot for getting those 25 problems done. Is it cruel or very clever of us to say,

"Happy Birthday, son,
but only after you finish your homework!"

That little jingle...

I've been sitting here for the past half hour tapping along to the music from my son's Pokemon game. He's not even playing it; he left it on his seat as he went to the other room to eat his lunch. As we're both watching MSNBC, it's an unlikely juxtaposition. I must say that trying to keep the happy la-la feeling of the Pokemon music is quite difficult when watching Max Pappas from FreedomWorks spin his group's call to rowdy behavior at town hall meetings to be something that promotes the nation's health care interests. Bad behavior is bad behavior.