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A gigantic nuclear furnace

November 21, 2009

Scene: The Spy kitchen. Harriet is washing the breakfast dishes. AJ enters.

AJ: I had an idea.

Harriet: What’s that?

AJ: I was wondering if the sun could erase my Etch-a-Sketch.

Harriet: That’s an interesting idea. What made you think of that?

AJ: Well, I was thinking about how heat makes particles vibrate. And you erase the Etch-a-Sketch by shaking it and making vibrate.

Harriet: That’s an interesting hypothesis. How are you going to test it out.

AJ: I just drew something on the Etch-a-Sketch and I put it in the sun. I’ll check on it later to see if it’s erased.

Harriet: That sounds like an interesting experiment. Let me know what happens.

AJ: Okay!

* * * * *

AJ came home from school yesterday all switched on. He was talking a mile a minute all yesterday evening about a million different things, all of them interesting. The reason, I think, is that he was excited about his report card. At AJ’s school, third grade is the first year they get regular letter grades. AJ has been hankering for them since preschool, when he used to watch me sit and grade papers. He’d fill out work sheets or ask us to quiz him about things and he’d demand that we grade him. I was squeamish about it then, because it seemed a little crazy for a 3 year old to be grade grubbing, and I worried about him being too dependent on external encouragement before he’d had the chance to experience the pleasure of doing something for its own sake. But it made him happy. He also loved to play school and grade the quizzes he gave me. (“You got an A, Mommy, but your handwriting is not very good.”). And now that he’s got real grades, he’s happy too. Everyone likes to have their efforts validated. I know I do.

And I needn’t have worried. Because although AJ read and reread his report card several times this morning, he found plenty of things to interest him that didn’t involve other people telling him how well he was doing. This morning before 10:30 he beat me soundly at chess, drew an abstract picture and several cartoons, watched a couple of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons on youtube, and played Pictionary with me. He’s practiced his Spanish, devised the aforementioned science experiment, quizzed me on facts about the states, and turned his Peanuts chess set into football teams and played a couple of games with himself. Now he’s out playing basketball with his buddies on this sunny and freakishly warm November day. I think my 8-year-old self would have enjoyed playing with AJ a lot. My 42-year-old self enjoys it too.

This afternoon, AJ and I are headed to the bowling alley for his school’s annual mother-son event. We are both looking forward to it. I had forgotten to sign us up this year, as the forms came home while I was home with the flu. But a last minute phone call to the organizer got us in. “I’m glad you called,” she said. “There are so many people who want to bowl with you. AJ is a popular guy I guess. Either that or they’ve seen us bowl and know we’ll be easy to beat.

So I’ll be spending my Saturday afternoon in someone else’s shoes and thinking about vibrating particles. What will you be doing

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2009 3:35 pm

    “You got an A, Mommy, but your handwriting is not very good.” And so right he is!

    I am watching friends drop sick left and right leaving three of us from our eight person dinner group to go out tonight. Kids have a sleepover at one of the other houses, CD will spend the evening reading and sleeping, so I shall go out and party.

    Today? Raked. Watched the 8yo add to his xmas wish list. Again. Right now they are both upstairs playing with K’nex and Lego combined and I just heard them explain to their dad that something “got destroyed”. Unusual lack of blame there. I’m going to sit and read a book, _Moloka’i_.

  2. freshhell permalink
    November 21, 2009 4:07 pm

    So did it work? Did the sun erase the etch-o-sketch?

  3. The Lass permalink
    November 21, 2009 5:05 pm

    I got up, had breakfast, went to the liquor store with S., had lunch, took a nap and am now writing a Flat Stanley travelogue for my nephew.

  4. November 21, 2009 5:46 pm

    I was the same way about grades, but it was less about the acknowledgement (I got that in a lot of ways), and more about it being a rite of passage: something that would mark me out as a “big kid.”

    Today? Today I did a massive clean of the ground floor and a teeninesy bit of work on a paper that’s due 12/3. Which seems way too soon, but even worse, I’d rather have it mostly done before Thanksgiving so I have one less thing to think about.

  5. crankygirl permalink
    November 22, 2009 9:08 am

    How was bowling? The sun didn’t erase the etch-a-sketch, did it?

    I went to PN Pilates and cleaned and wheeled home a 12 lb turkey. There is a lot more cleaning to do–amazing how one person can make such a mess in just a few weeks.

  6. November 22, 2009 10:13 am

    We had a problem with the experimental method. The sunniest spot in the house is right in front of AJ’s window, which, unfortunately, is also in the middle of just about any game played in AJ’s room. Someone tripped over the Etch-a-Sketch and accidentally erased it the old-fashioned way. We will attempt the experiment again, but probably not today, as AJ and his dad are headed to the city for the Bears game.

    Jill in A, lucky for him, his handwriting is far better than mine. However, I am a much speedier typist. Which reminds me — you’d asked about computer games and I’d totally forgotten about one he plays a lot. I forget the exact name of it, but it’s a Spongebob Squarepants typing teaching game.

    Lass, we love Flat Stanley projects. We’ve done several for others. I think AJ is doing that later this year, although I’m not entirely sure. It might be next year.

    Jill S., I think you’re also right about it being more grown-up, although part of it is about seeing all the As lined up in a row. He’s pleased with himself. As he should be. Good luck with the paper.

    Cranky, bowling was fun, although exhausting. It was nice, for once, to be in a lane with people who are as bad as us. I actually won one game with a 92. Not one of the 5 of us broke 100 all afternoon. I’m starting on Thanksgiving prep today as well. The cleaning part is my least favorite.

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