Thursday, March 29, 2012


I started this on Monday night, but alas, it is Thursday, and I'm only just now finalizing it ...

This post is illustrated by ... El Libro de Organismos por Juan B.

And so while he whips out this kind of stuff at school, he suffers miserably through all sorts of take-home projects with his BOTH-OF-US-ARE-TEACHERS-SO-WE-KNOW-EVERYTHING parents and his NEED-TO-DESTROY-TOUCH-EVERYTHING  brother. 

Even though we had known about it for weeks, we waited until the last minute and thus spent a good amount of time this past weekend working on John's Women's History Project, for which he chose for Mama to research Marie Curie.  The project consisted of selecting an important woman in history, and then doing a written, oral, & visual representation of the subject.  There were several Mama Meltdowns Animated Discussions about this important woman who discovered radium and then used her discovery to create the X-ray machine.  Marie Curie was the first female to receive the Nobel Prize in Science, which is not at all equivalent to helping your kid do a project on said topic, but surely at times feels like it.

We completed the report and then worked on the visual.  This consisted of locating a leftover yellow poster board under the couch that has been there since 2007 when we moved in, adding some fancy lettering by Mama, and adhering a 1998, dug-out-of-a-drawer X-ray of The Dad's One Strangely Malformed Tooth.

John then traced over my lettering:   MARIE CURIE INVENTED THE X-RAY MACHINE. 

Mama He was so proud of this project. 

But by some strange twist of fate, the day that the project was due was also his Star Student Day. Hence, I went to the school to dutifully read the Star Student's favorite stories to the class, and while I was there discovered that, despite the fact that both parents are esteemed educators, we are sorely lacking in the visual display category

Y'all:  There were tri-fold boards of Eleanor Roosevelt, dioramas about the death of Princess Diana, theatrical scripts regarding Frida Kahlo, Legoed depictions of Amelia Earhart, and watercolored Bronte sisters murals.  All trying to compete with our not-from-this-neighborhood display of mediocrity.  And to make it worse, about 50% of the 1st grade had chosen  -- wait for it -- Marie Curie.

So, despite my throat full of swallowed pride (we had an entire MONTH to prepare this; why did we wait until two days before it was due?!?!?!?), I walked into John's classroom with an armload of potential read-aloud books.  I was planning to read El Cucuy: Un Bogeyman Cuento en Espanol y Ingles, but when I got there, John insisted that I read Felix & The Worrier and The Berenstein Bears & Too Much TV.  I was disappointed, after having practiced all sorts of pronunciation scenarios with my ONE Spanish-speaking student, but I honored his wishes & avoided the Mexican boogy-man tale about a big, red-eared oaf who kidnaps badly-behaved Mexican children and keeps them in a cave until a a young shepherd rescues them.

Felix was a hit, but the Berenstein Bears -- I fear -- are a dying breed.  The humor about how the bears ended up in the predicament of the TV addiction, which Mama Bear attributes either to the acquisition of the "color set" or Papa Bear's installation of the "TV antenna," was all but lost on these first graders.  Nevertheless, they had numerous examples to share about THINGS THEY WORRY ABOUT (like Felix) IN THE NIGHT.

One of my favorites was, "I worry that my mom might turn into a robot."

After storytime, the Star Student is allowed to show and tell about something and answer cinco preguntas (five questions) about the object.  John chose to show and tell about his newest Lego creations: a tractor with trailer and a helicopter, both of which he had carefully transported to school in a tupperware container with an interlocking clasp.  This presentation predictably divided the class along gender lines.  Boys = fascinated & willing to ask mucho mas que cinco preguntas; girls = daydreaming about dismissal.

All in all, I'd say it went relatively well, given my fear of large groups of children.

Now, this next part is probably something that I should not share on the big www, but I figure if you're still reading then you are more than likely either a grandmother or some really close friend to which I might tell this anyway, so that is how I have talked myself into writing this.

After the Star Student Day, all were tired.  We came home and ate something awful like Tofu Veggie Dogs and raw broccoli.  (Quit judging --> Brian is coaching soccer, so I'm basically single-momming it.)

At bedtime, I walked into John's room as he was lying in bed preparing for the 8 p.m. light-turning-off ritual.  I found him laid up in his next-day school uniform, gracefully biting his toenails.

I said, off the cuff: "Well, that is so gross that I should threaten to tell your girlfriend, but I guess I can't, since you don't have one." (He has only confided in Brian about the relationship.)

He totally took the bait and yelled out, "I DO! I do have a girlfriend!" and then proceeded to spill his guts about it all.

Somehow amidst all of my basking in parental revelation, I was able to learn the following about why he chose this particular girl:

  1. she has the absolute best behavior in the class;
  2. she gets "Es" -- for Excellent -- on EV.ER.EE.THING on her report card;
  3. she is the "most prettiest" girl in the class.

I have to say that I couldn't have chosen three more well organized and correctly prioritized reasons.  I even confirmed reason #1 with Mrs. Torbert, who said "I can't even catch her doing anything wrong."

But the best part of this story is that a couple weeks ago, when I first created the donate button for the Merrell Family, a friend of a friend forwarded it to her friends, and one of them was The Girlfriend's Mother.  The next day I got an email saying that they really appreciated the work I was doing for this family and that they wanted to donate the remainder of the amount that I needed to reach my $1,000 goal.

Cha-Ching!  I don't know about y'all, but I am seeing DOLLAR SIGNS all. over. this.

Beyond the generosity, however, I was impressed by the note that came with the check, which said, "This is how the world should work.  Someone sees a need, tells others, and all work together to meet it."

Good people, they must be.

You see, when I was young(er) and dating, I almost never went out with anybody from my hometown.  So, whenever I would date someone that my daddy didn't know, he would always say something like, "What kind of people does he have?"  or "We just don't know about this, Kimberly.  We don't know his people."  And I probably rolled my eyes.

But now I get it.  I mean, sort of.  On some small, seven-year-old level, I get it.  And I'm so proud that my son, Juan B., clearly has excellent taste in "people."


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