May 23, 2009

The turtle with the brains

When the woman from the junior high attendance office called me on Friday to tell me that my eighth grader, With-a-Why, had been marked absent, I gave her my standard reply. “That’s right,” I said. “He’s absent.”

I didn’t add the part that might call into questioning my judgment as a parent. “Yeah, he’s on a roadtrip with a bunch of college students.”

With-a-Why isn’t even in high school yet, and he’s already spent considerable time hanging out with college students. He’s the youngest person to play on the Snowstorm City Ultimate League. He’s already earned the nickname Donatello because of the purple scarf that he knit himself and uses as a headband to keep back his long black hair. I think the nickname fits – not because of the superficial resemblance to the Mutant Ninja Turtle, but because the original Donatello was an artist.

The only thing that shows With-a-Why’s age is the way he packs. While his older brothers and First Extra were packing t-shirts, underwear, and hoodies, With-a-Why stretched out on the couch, half-asleep, hoping his Mom would come to his rescue. “Have you seen my purple shorts?” When I came downstairs to say goodbye to the group – handing my car keys and my good camera to my persuasive oldest son – the only things With-a-Why had packed were a chess board, his knitting, and the stuffed dog he likes to sleep with.

First Extra hurried the group along, getting Shaggy Hair Boy to move his stuff out to the car. Boy in Black was still trying to work his charm on me. “Yeah, thanks for the car and the camera. Could I borrow your credit card too?” They had a long drive ahead of them – almost five hundred miles to the College Ultimate Championships. As With-a-Why stumbled sleepily out to driveway, I heard him say to First Extra, “I couldn’t find the deodorant. So I used toothpaste instead.”

17 comments:

Yankee, Transferred said...

I'm HOWLING!!! He's great! What a wonderful experience for him and all the rest. Lucky, lucky kids.

landismom said...

That's a somewhat inspired work-around.

liz said...

He is a HOOT!

BrightenedBoy said...

I've said it befor and I'll say it again: your children are awesome and so are you.

BeachMama said...

You are the best Mom ever. I hope that I am as cool as you are with our kids when mine are old enough to go on a College road trip.

Anonymous said...

If you hate the rules that the school imposes so much, then why are they in public school? Why not home school them? You've complained before about dumb writing assignments. Now the attendance issue (which is the law, by the way -- and YOU are the one who ultimately could pay the consequences). Part of your whole shtick on this blog is thumbing your nose at "rules" and "formality" which is fine for you, but maybe not so much for your kids. If this is such a problem then why do you put up with it?

RageyOne said...

I'm curious, Anonymous, where in that post do you see jo(e) thumbing her nose at attendance? By responding that her son is absent? If so, you reading a lot between the lines. Just sayin'.

S. Spooner said...

In high school my stepmother would occasionally let me take a mental health day. Sometimes the day involved sleeping, sometimes it included a trip, but what it always included was a necessary recharge. It was a rare event that I'd take a day. My absence from school wasn't a "thumbing of the nose" by me or my stepmother; it was a respect for education in whatever form it takes. I learned more about myself and my place in the world from those mental health days than I ever did sitting in a classroom. I'm sure this is a trip your son will remember the rest of his life.
Bravo, Jo(e).

Anonymous said...

Ragey -- she says, oh gosh the school called. And I played coy, just saying "yes he's absent" instead of saying, he's on an optional fun trip. Doing something fun as opposed to being sick. *A major theme on this blog is, thumb your nose at the rules, hop the fence, go against the tide. That is great, I don't have a problem with that at all. My kids are in public schools and they have taken a few mental health days themselves. However I do understand that they are required by law to attend.

jo(e) said...

Anon: I usually delete anonymous comments on my blog, but since some of my readers have already responded to you, I'll leave this up. Are you connected to any of the emails I received this morning? Please use a name next time -- even if it's a pseudonym.

I like that you think that "going against the tide" is a major theme of my blog. I worry too often that readers might not get that.

Anonymous said...

I promise you that I know nothing about any emails sent this morning. Thanks for letting me comment on here. Many blogs have gone to "no anon comments allowed" or they have moved to FB or Twitter (neither one of which I have).

Blue Eyed Ultimate Player said...

and every dvd he owns! didnt use the chess board once, and i dont think he knitted either.

Songbird said...

I've called my kids in for various kinds of absences over the years, including concerts and plays, and I just brazened through it, whether I thought the school approved or not.

liz said...

I don't know what the law is in your neck of the woods Anon, but the law around here is that children are required to be in school (or home-schooled) for a mandatory minimum period of time. Parents ARE allowed to remove their children for a variety of reasons, elective sporting events being one of them. Provided the children make up the work and don't lose out for the absence and as long as the parents are aware of the absence and not preventing their children from getting an education, the law is being obeyed.

RageyOne said...

Anon - I guess I don't see her answer as thumbing her her nose. It is a response to the question that her son is absent.

From my read of Jo(e)'s blog her kids seem to be well-rounded and doing okay in school. One day absent, without the school knowing why will not cause great damage to her son.

Kathy said...

Anon's idea that Jo(e)'s kids will be hurt by the occasional day off is laughable. Two of her kids -- her daughter and the oldest boy -- have already graduated from high school and they were both valedictorian. Her kids are academic superstars. People ought to be using her as a role model of how to parent.

BrightenedBoy said...

The idea that she's doing her children a disservice is ridiculous.

Spontaneous experiences like the one With-a-Why is enjoying are at least as important to development as class time.

Furthermore, all four of her children are excellent students.

I second Kathy's statement that she should be looked to as a role model. I've very often wished that my own parents could be more like her.

Keep up the good work, Jo(e)!