Eleven Eleven-year Olds

Oh, who’s counting — actually, today’s birthday party for Lucas involved 12 fifth and two third graders. Quite the crowd. At one point, as I was wrangling them all thru the locker room and showers at our local aquatic center, I couldn’t help but marvel at the obvious differences in abilities and level of organizational skills and social competencies. I wish I could claim that Lucas impressed me with his newfound POT-inspired capabilities, but he was really too busy revelling at being the center of attention, high as a kite on the social buzz. Nothing gets him going like a crowd, he is the quintessential extrovert, and for me as the exact opposite I’ve come to realize (buttons, buttons) that I have a very hard time relating properly to his need for constant social interaction, for the thrill of the group dynamic. Why do I have a problem with that? Partly a fear of how it changes him, how he becomes some character out of Animal House whenever he’s with his buddies and they really crank it up… the classic male group dynamic, where the IQ drops as the numbers rise. I extrapolate from what I’m seeing now with a bunch of rowdy 10 year olds, and I envision horror scenarios of completely irresponsible 16 year olds being rude, risk taking, obnoxious morons… I’ve got to let go of that and learn to let Mr. life-of-the-party find his own limits and learn his own lessons. Tough.

Huge, enjoyable highlight this week: Lucas and his 5th grade class are doing a Greek unit, and part of the exercise involves making a Greek dish. Lucas announced this enthusiasticlally a few weeks back (a good sign — he could just as well have hummed and hawed about this “stupid food assignment”), and he was particularly adamant that HE had to make the dish without our help. So a few days ago, he set off to make his Greek salad. We had worked together to find out what he needed in the way of ingredients, and I went off and bought feta and olives and salad for him. So far so good. Then he got to work, slicing and dicing, with me just hovering to give the occasional tip or suggestion, but it was all him and he was fiercely proud of the final product. I was acutely aware of really stepping back and letting him get in the driver’s seat, and it was just thoroughly enjoyable to share in his sense of accomplishment but also be able to point out that he really had done the whole thin on his own.

Why are we so eager to “do” for them in the mistaken belief that it’ll give them more time to “have fun”? Now that we’re “doing the Vicky” it seems so obvious that we’re doing them a huge disfavor by “doing” all the mundane stuff — and much of the fun stuff, too, without having much fun getting it done — when in fact, we should be sharing the tasks of life with the kids and teaching them to enjoy and have fun with even the most mundane aspects of living life.