Lee and friends from this summer's Warrior Dash. Like the uniforms? Yes, that's Green Lantern underwear... proof to my friend's 4th grader who claimed he was too old to wear comic underwear anymore. Au contraire mon ami! You are never too old. (Apparently.)
Habtamu is doing very well in school. He has several ELL (English Language Learning) classes with the same teacher, in a small class room. This has really helped him get the attention and focus he needs. He got mostly A's and B's and one C this last semester. For being here only 4 and a half years, every one agrees that he is doing a fantastic job. We are so proud of him and how hard he works.
First day of 9th Grade:
Yordanos is also doing well in school. She recently tested out of her extra reading help, and is now in mostly regular classes. She is still in a special math program with a smaller class size and an EXCELLENT teacher who has made math her favorite class. We want to encourage her to do her best, but not well enough to test out of this class. :) Just kidding.... kind of.
First day of 6th Grade:
Both are playing indoor soccer this winter. Yo played soccer all fall. Habtamu played football, which is a post unto itself. Habtamu tried out for basketball this year, but got cut early on. He did not seem disappointed. I asked him how he felt about getting cut. "Ok." Really? Why is that? He shrugged, "I didn't know what I was doing. Can I still play soccer?"
This weekend, said child displayed a new pair of headphones (bought with child's own money - fool me once, and all that) broken off at the plug. Later this weekend we received a set someone didn't want, and this child claimed a right to it. Oh, no, we said, this will go to the other child who has been using headphones for quite awhile with only one working side.You can take the one with one side working.
We look over later, and child has new headphones given by sibling (guilted into giving them), and is using them. I can't say "them" because child was using ONE ear-bud, with the other one dangling.
I go back and forth. On one hand, he's a boy with only 3 years in the States, thrown into the pit of 8th grade. His reading is low so 8th grade curriculum is going to be tough and we should cut him some slack. On the other hand, I feel there are skills he should have and that certain things should be sinking in by now that haven't. The most infuriating example is when he says, "But Dad, this is the first time I've ever seen this. You want me to remember it on the first try?" Everything inside me wants to scream "YES! That's called learning! Sometimes you only get one chance to learn things, and part of your education is to figure out how to do that!" And yet, I get it. Friction is a completely foreign concept. VietNam is a dot on the globe. Algebra is algebra no matter how old you are.
Unfortunately, conversations like the following are not terribly uncommon:
H: Dad, Can you print off the Amandments for me?
Me: What? It's bed time.
H: I know. I need to memorize the Amandments tomorrow.
Me: The Amandments?
H: Yes. The 10 Amandments.
H: Yes. That's what I said. The first 10 commandments.
Me: Sigh... you could just look them up in your Bible.
H: It's hard to read that way.
Me: (Can't argue that...) Fine. I'll put them on your backpack for the morning.
Wife: Are you actually going to print them? He should have done that himself hours ago.
Me: Eh, no big deal.
(Next day, dinner time)
H: Oh, Dad... you did it wrong.
Me: What are you talking about?
H: The thing you printed for me. It was wrong. I needed the 10 Amandments. (He holds up a sheet of paper)
Me: The Amendments? To the Constitution? Yeah... those are different.
H: That's what I said the first time. The ten amendments. I need to memorize them.
(Note to readers, this is not an accent thing. This often happens with words longer than three syllables. This child feels, or has learned, that if he can get part of the word, that's usually close enough for native English speakers to fill in the blanks. He also gets really frustrated if you point it out, because you obviously know what he meant if you can correct him.)
So he hands me the list of 15 amendments... Then we go through each one and I explain what they mean. I try to make them interesting and understandable, but to me, it doesn't feel like anything is sticking.
Me: Ok, now it's your turn. Read the list to me.
H: Ok, I'll read the list.
Me: Please read the list to me.
H: Why? I'm reading to myself.
Me: Because I want to hear you and it'll help you learn.
H: I can't pronounce some of these words.
Me: Exactly. That's why I'm here. I'll help you when you get stuck.
H: I can read it myself! (goes silent and stares at the paper again)
Me: Listen... you won't learn what you can't pronounce. That's why you need to learn how to say the words as well as what they look like.
H: Fine. Dad. Take the list and read the whole thing to me about 3 times.
Me: What? Why?
H: Then I'll learn what the words sound like.
Me: What? No, that's not how this is going to work.
(Big argument ensues...)
I start rhyming.
Me: Four. Warrant. Five. Silent.
H: Why are you doing that?
Me: It will help you remember them.
H: (genuinely baffled) No it won't.
Me: It can. If you can remember the most important word, then you can remember the rest.
H: No I can't. I don't need to know one word, I need to know the whole thing.
Me: You don't get it at all do you? You can't remember it because you're trying to remember the whole thing. There's about 6 words in each amendment you don't know. Work on the most important word. Amendment Fiiiive. Siiiiilent. Right to stay silent.
H: But then I'll get it wrong on the test because I won't have it memorized!!!
(Bigger argument ensues involving multiple family members)
H: You think I'm stupid!
Me: No, I think you don't have the skill to learn this quickly. Staring at that paper and calling it 'studying' isn't effective. I'm trying to teach you that blah blah daddy's character building speech blah blah life skills blah blah education blah blah
H: (silently stares at the list of amendments...)
Evening ends with yelling, door slamming, crying, and a child pounding on his bed with the covers pulled over his head. I calm down and go up to his bedroom.
Me: Rough one tonight, huh?
H: Leave me alone!
Me: Tomorrow will be better.
H: GO AWAY LEAVE ME ALONE!
Me: Yeah, I heard you. I still love you. I'll see you tomorrow.
H: I COULD GET A GUN AND SHOOT MYSELF!
Me: Well you're in luck! In America, you can! The second amendment states that you have the right to bear arms! I remembered that because I have two arms. Get it? Second? Two? Arms? Good night! I loooooove yooou!
Sorry folks... all I had left at that point was sarcasm.
Now before the internet calls DCFS, my son does not usually threaten to hurt himself. I 'joked it off' because that was not the time to have any kind of serious conversation. Tempers were still too high. But seriously, something's been bugging him this week and it's interesting (though that's not quite the word I'm looking for) that he still reverts to some of the behaviors we saw very early on. He hasn't told us what the root of the problem is yet, and we just end up fighting about the symptoms. Hopefully he'll open up, but he is growing up... Guess we'll see.
Me: Hello, IT Support, this is Lee.
Habtamu: Hi Dad.
Me: Oh... Hi what's up?
H: I was calling to find out when you were coming home.
Me: 5 o'clock.
H: Ok. Do you know if the lasagna's done?
H: Is the lasagna done.
Me: I don't know. You're the one who is at home.
H: But I'm not in the kitchen and I can't tell if it's done.
Me: Ok, well is it in the oven?
H: I don't know.
Me: Well how am I supp...
H: YORDANOS! DAD WANTS TO KNOW IF THE LASAGNA IS IN THE OVEN!
Me: You know you could jus...
Me: sigh... (I happen to know the phone cord stretches to the kitchen)
H: DAD NEEDS TO KNOW IF THE LASAGNA IS IN THE OVEN!
(Muffled argument ensues)
Me: No, what? It's not in the oven?
H: Yordanos says it is not in the oven.
Me: Did it used to be in the oven?
H: Yes. Mom told me to put it in and I did. We took it out to see if it was done, but we can't tell.
Me: Was the oven on?
H: Yes. I turned the oven on.
Me: What temperature is the oven set at?
H: I don't know, I'm not in the kitchen. YORDAN...
Me: Wait! How long has the lasagna been in the oven?
H: I don't know... like... maybe... 20 minutes?
Me: What time did you put it in? (Do you see what I did there?)
H: Like, 20 minutes ago dad. (Do you see how it didn't matter?)
Me: Ok, Ok... Um, is it hot?
Me: Is. The. Lasagna. Hot?
H: YORDANOS! DAD WANTS TO KNO... (phone gets muffled)
H: She says it's boiling. Look, dad. I just want to know if dinner is ready.
H: When are you coming home?
Me: 10 minutes. Don't eat until I get there.
H: Ok. Bye. I love you.
Me: Love you too.
I get home and the "reheated" lasagna leftovers, which haven't even reached room temperature yet, are sitting on the oven. The oven is still running at 350 degrees. Neither child is in the kitchen. 3 minutes in the microwave and dinner is served.
Footnote: Erwin Schrodinger is famous for trying to figure out whether a (theoretical) cat in a box would be dead or alive without actually opening the box. Kind of like me trying to find out whether or not dinner was cooked without actually having any useful prior information.
And just to be clear, it was my bedroom door he was slamming.
My. Bedroom. Door.
Attack. Mode. Initiated.
Make Me? You're on!
All I knew at that moment was I really, REALLY wanted to make him. I was definitely up for the challenge. As God is my witness, I was going to make him. I had visions of how this was going to go down. I'd leap out of bed like a burning ninja. He'd turn to run but it would be too late. I'd drop him like an angry lion and pin him to the floor, breathing in his face. His eyes would be wide and scared as he realized how much his mistake was about to cost him. I'd get right in his face and say, "So you didn't think I could make you do it? What do you think now, smart guy?" And he'd cry, "Yes Dad, Yes! I'm so sorry! I'll do it, I'll do it!" Then I would march or drag him off and MAKE him do it. That's right. Don't mess with Daddy because he WILL make you. Lesson learned the hard way.
And if I had the slightest clue what he didn't want to make... I assure you would have made him do it. Fortunately for him, I kinda missed that part. So after fantasizing about Alpha Dogging my son, I decided that personal vindication wasn't worth ruining everyone's day... or even really worth getting out of bed. What was I going to do, grab him and yell, "Whatever it is you don't you want to do, you're gonna do it now Mr.!"? I heard Chris throw out an, "Oh No You Didn't!" from her side of the bed but I didn't see any follow up movement. That seemed like an appropriate retort, and luckily for him required no effort or cat-like reflexes on my part... that would have been a bloodbath. Because I'm telling you, I was going to make him.
Some day, he'll thank me for being lazy.
Habtamu had his first shovelling job of the season and he made $20 yesterday afternoon! I picked him up at 5:15pm, and before dinner he had spent $19.74. So basically he shovelled nearly two hours for a shiny Trapper Keeper binder thingy, a root beer, and a quarter. Remember those days?
What is wrong with kids today? They should be investing their money in comicbooks and graphic novels like I did! *eyeroll*