THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Poetry (Summer Stinks!) Friday

My friends, have I mentioned how much I hate summer?

facebook-fail-summer-favorite-month
Summer is an Epic Fail
It is hot. The heat makes people sweaty and cranky. And it's like someone stuck a too-bright light-bulb into the sun. Summer is primo migraine season. You will not see me outside without my super-cool prescription sunglasses.

Don't let the smile fool you. The summer light
is slicing painfully across my face like a laser.
And then there are the bugs. I am, basically, mosquito bait.

When I retire, I will be moving to Maine. Mr. Shovan thinks he would prefer Arizona. I queried a friend who resides in that state: Is it true when they say "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." This is frequently how real estate and travel agents extol the virtues of Southwest (dry) heat versus Midatlantic (sticky) heat.

He said, in reply: Do you like the way it feels when you open the oven and all the heat blasts into your face? No.

Today, though, the reason I hate summer has nothing to do with the weather. The reason I hate summer can be summed up in two words: Summer Reading.


My son has summer assignments for three classes: English, Religion and U.S. History. Together, these assignments add up to 570 pages of reading, two five-paragraph essays (for one class), three short essays, a multiple choice test, 20 short-answer questions, and a PowerPoint presentation. Huh?

We are suffering here, people.

Let me backtrack by saying, in case you forgot, that my rising junior is dyslexic. He is a great student, but he thrives on structure. Summer is the opposite of structured.

When did he decide to show me these lovely assignments that would take him all summer to accomplish? This week. When should he have started? February.

All of this work is overwhelming. Thank goodness, I am a licensed education professional. I can organize reading plans and chunk assignments like a drill sergeant when the need arises (as it has, along with the temperature). So, we are doing school in August.

Julia, the younger sister, is not thrilled. She prefers show-tune singing, knitting mommy. She does not respond well to: Drop and give me 20 pages in that math workbook.

But she rolls with it, as many sibs of LD kids learn to do. Sometimes the whole house has to stop and build up the scaffolding needed to support her brother. It's a cyclical part of our lives that I know other parents (and teachers) of LD kids understand.

The Statue of Liberty during the restoration in 1984.
Even the strongest of us need support from time to time.
http://www.nps.gov/stli/historyculture/places_restoring.htm
My sweet hubby is suffering too. It took me and Robbie all afternoon to figure out some software that enables him to listen to his history textbook (he reads along, highlighter in hand). We got it working 15 minutes before Dad walked in the door.

So, Chinese take-out for dinner and thank goodness I can be a stay home mom when I need to be. Today, I needed to be.
Fortune cookie writing contest!
It's stressful, but I wouldn't change a hair on the kid's head. I have learned so much from the way he learns. Parents of LD kids have to be flexible. We have to have a toolbox ready to go when our guys (and girls) stumble.

Here's the cool news: I've been an advocate for my own twice-exceptional kid and for other parents with 2-e kids for years, but now I'm going to do it AS A JOB! This summer, I've been training to become an Independent Educational Consultant. And the person who is mentoring me -- she specializes in working with LD kids. How perfect is that?!

I won't get into the details of what an IEC is right now. The short version: helping LD students with the college search and application process so they go off to a "good fit" school.

Is there a poem at the end of this rant? Of course there is.

This is from the middle grade novel-in-poems I have been working on for FIVE YEARS. If life with the kiddo calms down, I plan to do one more big revision this summer and then start sending the manuscript out. The latest title for the novel is THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. Here a poem in the voice of one of my Emerson ES fifth graders.

Window

During math, I’m like a dog
that wants to play outside
but no one will open the door.
No matter how many math games
we play in Mr. Keller’s class
I can’t hold still. I get itchy.
I look at trees through the window,
toss something at my friend’s desk.
Want to play? He shakes his head.
I bite my nails, chew erasers,
look out the window. Green grass.
I tap my feet, click my teeth,
dream up stories about dogs
living wild in the woods.
If I concentrate, I can see
yellow eyes in the trees
looking back at me.

Photo by Julia
I've given you a lot to reflect on, friends, fellow parents, and poetry lovers. You may wish to visit Reflections on the Teche for more summer rants, raves and rhymes as we head into the last month of the season. Soon, I'll be saying TGIF (Thank God It's Fall).

UPDATE:

Parents, I thought you might like to see the result of yesterday's madness. Here is our new and improved August calendar.


We have the usual doctor visits and summer parties. What's new? Blue post-its with the day's assignment (for each teen).

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it." Call me crazy, or anal, or OCD, but now we can see that the summer assignments are do-able and everyone feels a lot better. Phew!

7 comments:

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I am in awe- as a teacher and a parent. You are an inspiration to rise the the challenge in such a creative, supportive and organized way. And congratulations on the new career path - I can't wait to learn more of your journey.
And...loved the poem...that's exactly how some of my kids must feel!

Mary Lee said...

Exactly what Tara said.

Violet N. said...

You are funny (and an amazing mom and teacher, drill sergeant etc.).

Enjoyed your poem. Hope it and its companions see the light of book publishing day sooner rather than later. (I've really enjoyed the novels in verse I've read.)

Liz Steinglass said...

Ditto for me.
That calendar is impressive--both in terms of the amount of work that needs to happen and in terms of the organizational support it represents.
I'm quite sure there are lots of lots of kids who would completely relate to your poem. I really like the lists of all the things the speaker does during class.
Finally, thank you for daring to say you don't like summer.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Laura, Laura! So sorry for my silence--I did receive the ms and I read much of it...and then we travelled. More soon...

I feel for you and your family (our challenge starts next week with meds trials for rising 5th grader)--go Robbie go-- and I find the blue post-it calendar to be a work of art. I approve heartily of revised title of NIV, and "if I concentrate I can see yellow eyes" is so revealing!

Diane Mayr said...

Laura, the hardest part for me is to get started. If only I could rid myself of the "put-it-off" gene. You've not only got things going, you've made them continu-able. Brava!

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi there Laura, thank you for sharing your thoughts about summer and reading and providing scaffolding to both your children. I am inspired by your story and all the energy and love and compassion that go with it. I am sure it is all worth it in the end. Best of luck on your new work! :)