Sometimes, the kid blows my mind

Stroop Test

We’ve been having (yet more) struggles at school. But he’s happy. He goes to school without complaint, and I’m just relieved that he seems happy.

But he’s slipping academically. Still “on standard” for reading and maths (where he used to be years ahead), but falling behind in writing.

At the end of last term we had a chat to his teacher to try to work on some problem areas – one that was mentioned was figurative language.

Now, he’s been reading since he was four and a half, and I assumed he had a pretty good grasp of figurative language, so this was a surprise to me. Nevertheless, I took every opportunity to discuss figurative language where we found it, and also asked him to do a few “busywork” worksheets at about the right level. I still felt he understood the material without extra instruction.

Fast forward to tonight. We’ve decided to only speak in general terms about the events over the weekend in Charlottesville, only that people are being awful, and that he doesn’t need to know the details. He’s a highly sensitive soul, and sometimes he has nightmares over world events, so we don’t tell him everything, all the time.

I introduced him to the concept of cognitive dissonance, and how some people will continue to believe a comfortable lie, rather than accept a new truth that compromises their world view.

I then asked him to do a stroop test. He did really well, but admitted it was hard.

Then I turned the card upside down, and asked him to repeat the test. I asked if he found it easier the second time, he said, “yes, because the abstraction removes the context, and only shows the content”.

So then I freaked out a little. And then I asked…

“Can you think how that test, and our findings apply to figurative language, and why authors use it?”.

“By abstracting the content, the author can express a message that people might not want to see otherwise”.

Boom.

Harry Potter Themed 9th Birthday Party

Harry Potter 9th Birthday Party//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Guests were asked to arrive promptly for sorting into houses. They were then sent in for wand making (sticking washi tape and sparkles on to chopsticks), and then to Professor Moody for Defense Against the Dark Arts (Pin the Wand on a large poster of Harry).

Then they were sent outside to practice Wingardiam Leviosa (balacing a baloon on a wand tip), while waiting for Divination class.

Cheryl made a brilliant Professor Trelawney (albeit without the sherry fumes), and some kids loved her class so much they wanted to do it twice!

While Divination was in session for one house at a time, Brooke ran History of Magic (Harry Potter trivia), and Vish ran them ragged with outdoor games.

We then had snacks and cake and present opening, and finished up with a herbology class, putting Extract of Murtlap and Bubotuber Pus into small jars for potions lessons at home. Preferably in the bathtub!

A wonderful time was had by all the kids, and all of the adults were driven to gin. Thank you to my wonderful professors, and Angi who quietly helped where it was needed and helped everything to run smoothly. I have had some lovely thank you messages from parents, which make all the effort worthwhile (as well as having a happy kid!).

Happy Birthday Squidilng

Inigo 9th Birthday//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Kid went to bed 8, woke up 9.

Went to bed with Ogden the Octopus, and his new favourite soft toy “Zombunny” tucked inside his pyjamas. Zombunny was an early Christmas present made by the wonderful Cheryl, and he is perfect. At nine, he is still the kid that is late for school to stay with a dying monarch butterfly, has meaningful relationships with soft toys, and one particular tree at school.

At nine, he is still generous with his kisses and cuddles, still loves extravagantly, and still holds my hand to cross the road. But he also plays chess like a fiend, can ride his bike all the way to school, and climbs all the way to the top of the indoor climbing wall without a trace of fear.

He is brave, he is sweet, he is kind and he is clever. He is every bit as wonderful as I ever hoped he might be, and he keeps getting more and more himself, which is an absolute joy to watch. The last few years have brought some tough challenges, and he has recently proved to be more than a match for them. With the support of his teachers, he has gone from strength to strength this year, and (touch wood!), we may have found the magic formula for engagement at school. See the previous few posts for more detail.

And today, we finally had the initial assessment with an Occupational Therapist. It will be a while before we get the report back, but it looks like we might be finally on the road to a diagnosis, and some support for his challenges.

After the OT, we had lunch at his favourite restaurant Ras Vatika (Dosa and dhai Puri with a mango lassi), then went into town to see the windows at Smith & Caugheys. We wandered inside and discovered the Magical Forest, so we decided to check that out (highly recommended if you’re in Auckland with a kid), and then to Aotea Square for the giant lego Christmas tree.

Daddy then met us at the cinema for “Fantastic Beasts”, sushi for dinner, and then a trip to Giappo for the world’s best ice cream.

Which apparently comes with a candle for your ninth birthday.

On the way home he told me that he wished he had a time turner so he could live today over and over again. “It’s like I drank a whole bottle of Felix Felicis last night, and I’ve had a whole day of perfection”. I hear you kid.

For the teachers

This is a shout out to my teacher peeps.

This week, my kid expressed his unhappiness at school in a way that could not be ignored, and it couldn’t be misinterpreted.

And the response from the school has been heartening. Teachers who have worked with my boy have been shocked, and distressed, and they have made the time to set things in motion for change.

There have been teachers in his past that have ignored, minimised and disregarded his challenges, and his feelings about school, and my advocacy for my boy. But the last two days I have seen three teachers go above and beyond to make sure that this situation gets turned around.

And one special teacher, who happens to be a friend to both Squid and I, who took time out of her busy life to make sure we are supported and informed, and nurtured – you can’t know what your advocacy has meant.

I am hopeful that things will change really soon. And if it does, it will be down to great teachers, working passionately within a system that constrains and stifles where it should lift up and celebrate these wonderful people.

Thank you for the work you do.

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