May 1, 2015
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
Last week Eight’s class earned a party for the end of the day on Friday. The kids voted on what kind of party they wanted—costume or otherwise—and for the first couple of days of the week Eight kept talking about how she hoped everyone voted for a costume party. She and her friends, as expected of most kids, detest their uniforms.
The voting came and went and the kids decided they would wear whatever they wanted to school, including costumes. Despite the good news, Eight came home a little worried.
“I asked Ms. W. if I could wear my Renaissance costume, and she said no because it isn’t appropriate for school,” she said, slightly frustrated.
I was just as mystified as her. Her Renaissance costume went to her ankles and had a modest square neckline. What about it wouldn’t follow school rules?
She went back to school the next day and asked her teacher again, and this time the teacher folded.
On Thursday when I went to Eight’s room to say good night to her, she said, “I don’t how it’s going to be wearing my costume to school tomorrow.”
I reassured her it would be fine, and the next morning she put on her ankle-length blue Renaissance outfit with an excited grin. When we drove to school and entered the school’s driveway, Eight began assessing the other kids getting out of their cars.
“I feel a little weird,” she said, her eyes focused on the other students walking to the school’s entrance. “No one’s wearing a costume.”
I hesitated for just a minute, torn between encouraging her to follow through with the costume and allowing her to back off if she felt strongly enough about it.
I made a choice and pulled the car to the side.
“If you want to take it off, you can,” I said, knowing it would take less than 30 seconds for her to pull it over her head and walk into school in her turtleneck and jeans. “Just leave your costume on your seat.”
She did as I asked. “Should I just put this in my backpack?”
“Do you still want to wear it during the party?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, with a shrug in her voice. In other words no problem at all wearing it during the party; she just didn’t want to walk into school with it on.
“You can put it in your backpack,” I said.
She scooped the costume and its matching tiara into her bag and scuttled out the door. I’m glad she decided to go for the middle ground so that she could enjoy the costume but not feel discouraged by it.
In preparation for fourth grade, Eight’s teacher has started transitioning Eight and the other gifted kids from one math curriculum to another.
When we moved to Illinois almost two years ago (!!) and met with her teacher before the start of the school year, we told Ms. N. that Eight’s previous school had used the Saxon math curriculum. Ms. N. said she hadn’t heard of it but would look into the math system. Within weeks Ms. N. became a huge fan of Saxon and started using it in her classroom.
Due to a change in the lineup of teachers between second and third grade, Eight had Ms. N. for both years. But at the end of this school year Ms. N. will move to a different school. With a child at home who requires some extra attention, Ms. N. has found a position that allows her to spend more time with her family.
Ms. N. has created a strong bond with Eight and the other kids, so she’s doing everything she can to prepare them for fourth grade. This includes transitioning back to Everyday Math (EDM,) the curriculum she and the other gifted teachers had used prior to our moving here.
While the math matches, more or less, what Eight was doing in her Saxon work the way problems are set up and worded look different. To Ms. N.’s credit, the kids only get a few pages of it a night—much less than the Saxon math they were getting—so in terms of time there’s less of a commitment on Eight’s part.
This means frustration for Eight. For the first time in months she cried over her math homework, and I found myself talking her back from her tears. I reminded her that even though she’s been blessed with the gift of intelligence, there’s no way she’ll get everything right every single time. There will be times, I reminded her, that she’ll get some of the problems wrong and that’s totally okay.
It’s even okay, I said, to feel bad about getting them wrong…for a little while. Then she needs to buck up and get back to it.
After I tightened the screws for her a little bit, she feels somewhat better. But I’m expecting a few more bumps in the road. Eight loves Ms. N., and going back to school in the fall to a new teacher will certainly prove to be a little bit of a speed breaker.
Fortunately most of the class will return, so there should be some comfort in that for her. I just hope in the meantime I can reinforce the positives for her in this situation.
The other night I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and found a note under my toothbrush.
I had to smile. The handwriting didn’t quite fit, but I knew only one person could have left the note for me: Six.
With Mother’s Day around the corner the level of secrecy has skyrocketed in the house. Six had her sister write the note for her signed from the “elf,” and it was simple “I love you” message. The trouble with my younger daughter, however, is that she doesn’t know how to keep a secret.
“Did you find a secret note in the bathroom last night?” Six asked the morning after, her impish grin lighting up her face.
“I did,” I said, playing along and amping up my bewilderment.
“Do you know who left it?”
“Me!” she said.
I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. My daughter just can’t keep anything to herself (and I’m keeping my fingers crossed this stays the case when she becomes a teenager.)
“Well, I loved it!” I said.
That night she left another note. It read, “One more mystery awaits; why am I doing this? From, your not-so-secret elf.”
Between the notes and Mother’s Day coming, I know there has to be a connection. I’m excited to find out what it is. In the meantime, I’ll let Six enjoy her “not-so-secret secret.”