Sunday, September 12, 2010

In which I stress out about my son's wonderful life

Sat through nearly 3 hours of baseball tryouts today.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Baseball.  In September.  In the middle of football season.

He is trying out for the "competitive league" for baseball.  Previously he was in Little League.  But this new league is tough--22 kids trying out for 11 spots.  And there were already 11 kids on last year's team, so it will be hard for any new kids to break in.  But we'll see.  He did a great job--definitely gave it his best effort and did so without stressing out (to say the least).

In the middle of tryouts, the coach called them together and I see my son raising his hand really high.  He says something, and I hear the coach say, "You mean right now?  In the middle of tryouts?"  Son nods.  Coach tells him to go find his parents.

My son runs up and hands me a tooth!  A baby tooth, not a dental emergency.

I think it's funny that the coach had to clarify, "You mean right now?"--as if my 10yr old might be just spontaneously sharing with the group something neat that happened to him yesterday.

I've thought many times in the last 6 months or so that my son has a golden life.  He's such a happy kid. He's got good buddies.  Doing well in sports (but isn't obsessed about sports, thank goodness).  Plus, he is doing awesome in school. 

Well, he is doing well in school grade-wise, and doing spectacular in standardized testing.  He has always gotten grades of 3s and 4s (scale 1-4, with 4 being best).  Teachers say nice things about him, particularly in terms of his personality (and his sense of style!).  But they've never been all that impressed with his academics--he's doing "well" but no one uses words for him like "outstanding," much less "he has a beautiful mind" (like my colleague was told about her son). And no teacher ever recommended him to be tested for the "academically talented" program.

I always thought he was really smart, but deferred to his teachers versus insisting that he was an unrecognized genius.

I think I made a mistake.  Last spring, out of the blue, I get an email telling me that he and 3 other kids have been recommended to skip two grades in math.   Decision was based solely on a standardized math test given to all 4th graders.

I have to admit, I wondered if there had been a mistake.  The other 3 kids were all officially "academically talented" and some other "academically talented" kids hadn't made the cut.

We just received the state standardized tests yesterday and he scored advanced in all 3--reading, writing, math.   I went to the website and find out that only 4 kids in his school/grade were advanced in reading and 5 kids advanced in writing. 

So I'm feeling guilty that I didn't push these teachers more to recognize his strengths.   Did I give too much respect and deference to these elementary teachers?   Did I unintentionally hold him back?  I was skipped a grade in elementary school, and I didn't want to project my own educational path onto expectations for my son.  But did I set the bar too low?

See, that's me--even when news is unexpectedly good, I find a reason to stress out--missed opportunities, misplaced trust, etc.  I will get him tested for the "academically talented" program.  He obviously is scoring better than some of them on these tests.  And who knows--maybe better than all of them!

Later I might post on my theories about his teachers' stereotypes for "academically talented" kids and why my son wasn't recognized as such.

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