Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ice cream's on me

they are prepping the kids for some big, state test this week at school.  this means that we are all being prepped.  not only am i being prepped on what kind of breakfast they need that morning, and what kind of brain sharpening snacks they need to bring on testing days, and how much sleep they need to get, and what kinds of clothing are most comfortable...but i've also become a writing tutor.

the packet comes home in the back pack...half done...and i am to sign it, assuring them that i have watched him or helped him finish it and that it is...indeed...up to snuff.

in this case...there was a lot of helping.

we went over the instructions.  i made certain that he understood the assignment.  and then i reminded him that "he didn't have to be scared of writing...and that all writing was...was telling a story on paper."  however, all the talk about paragraph indention, correct tense, and spelling counting and correct grammar usage had the boy in a word induced stupor.

when i thought that he was ready...i left him to work.  he wrote a short essay on the given subject "a goal for your life."


a 10 year old boy writing an essay about a life goal.

his biggest goal tonight was getting desert after dinner.


he decided to write about becoming a famous piano player.

(i say...go for it, kid.)

when he was done, he brought it to me and said, "how's this?  did i do good?"

as i read it, he resumed play elsewhere in the house...that "lofty famous piano player goal" the farthest thing from his mind.

after i read it...i put my head in my hands.

i may be a writer...but i'm not a teacher.  i don't have the first clue how to teach a fourth grader how to write an essay.  we went back to the drawing board and i did the only thing i knew to do.  i flipped the paper over and told him to tell me the story while i wrote what he said.  i explained where he naturally started a new paragraph in his story...and showed him how to do that on the paper.  i told him how to conclude an essay with a sentence that wraps it all together.

he didn't look so dejected after we did it that way. was no secret that i wouldn't be there when test day came.

there's a lot of pressure put on these kids with this test.  and i don't think it's fair.  fair may not be the right word here. i mean...there is that whole, starving children thing, that when speaking of what's fair and not fair always enters my mind.  but you know what i mean.

and to the educational system that say they don't make the test seem like a big deal to the kids...

here's a tip...

when you order t-shirts for the whole school faculty to wear on the test days...

it's kinda sending the message that it's a big deal.

my kid's not stupid.

and he doesn't need that kind of pressure.

let him eat his lucky charms.  and wear whatever he puts if it's any other morning.  and go to bed the night before like it's any other night...thinking of the frog he caught in the backyard that evening and the pop sickle stain on his pajamas. and whether or not he will get that new coon hat that he's been wanting. and let him come to school...where you can pass out that test like it's any other test.  teach him the stuff that is gonna be on that test.  send it home and we will work on it we did tonight.  but don't make it something it's not.

don't make it what makes him deemed SMART, or SUCCESSFUL, or WORTHY.

and for the love of GOD...don't broadcast all the kids who get COMMENDED PERFORMANCES in the class in front of everyone while the kids who didn't sit there...looking down...fighting off the embarrassment like you did a few years back. not cool. all.

please...don't send him the message, at 10 years old, that if he does poorly on this test...

...he's not GOOD ENOUGH.

my standardized test scores told me that ALL MY LIFE.

it has taken me a master's degree, becoming a writer, a rocking IQ test score, and a good 20 years to realize that those test scores didn't determine my intelligence worth.  and a lot of times...that all get's confused with your entire worth as a person.

and i'll be damned if i'm gonna let it happen to them too.

so...i guess what i'm saying is...if you're wanting this household to get all frazzled and act like this test is the end all be all to his school career and worth as a human being...


when that test day rolls around, i'm telling my kid the same thing i tell him every other day...

"you go rock today being the best YOU you can be.  be kind.  be honest.  love God and love people...but worry more about what God thinks about you than those people.  and no matter what...i couldn't love you any more or any less."

and if he does all of that stuff...but fails that big test...

ice cream's on me.

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