What I Love About 10

Today is Pajama Day at school, and while our middle school son wore sweats and a favorite Falcons t-shirt, no different than any other day, our 10-year-old strutted into school proudly sporting his flannel Snoopy Christmas pajamas.

Bright green. Snoopy. Charlie Brown. Woodstock.

Not a care in the world. No thought of “cool” or “not cool”.

Just lovin’ his PJs.

Struttin’ into 4th grade.

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The Scariest Thing He Could Think Of

Last November 1, my now seventh grader decided that he wanted to be something scary for Halloween this year. So that day, he tried to think of all the things that scared him, and decided that the scariest thing he could think of was a failed math test.

So for Halloween 2016, he was a failed math test.

It is my favorite costume in our family’s history of Star Wars characters, Ninjas, clowns, ducks, lions and dragons. Cheap. Easy to make. Witty. And just putting his personality out there. So courageously nerdy that it’s cool.

failed-math-test

 

A Lesson from My Third Grader

My sister recently took a personality test that was supposed to rank her strengths. She was frustrated that all the “fun stuff” came in last.

I suffered from the same disappointment back in high school. I was really good at grammar. But what high school girl aspires to that when her friends are getting standing ovations in the school musical or scoring the game-winning goal for the lacrosse team?

I wanted to be more interesting. I wanted to make people laugh. I wanted to be good at the “fun stuff.” I was clearly unsuccessful at the time, since some of the boys called me “the Librarian.”

My third grader has been teaching me a lesson about the “fun stuff.” He too wants to be the most interesting guy in the room. He aspires to be the kid who everyone else wants to play with. But he too is good at grammar and multiplication, when what he really wants is to play quarterback in the NFL. Not a likely scenario, he discovered this fall, after dropping out of recess football games when they got too rough.

Like all of us, he wants to be good at the “fun stuff.” The difference is how he responds when he is not.

When he was little, he changed the rules to his advantage so that he stayed at the top of the “fun” game. But his brother and friends have caught on over the years.

Now, he redefines fun.

When he watches sports, he yells and cheers and jumps up and down for every play until everyone in the house finds their way into the room to watch with him, even those not so interested in the game. We want to share in his joy.

When he stays after school to get ahead in the Rocket Math challenge, he talks about it so much and with such enthusiasm, that until he raced through division, a long line of third grade moms were forced to wait in carpool line for their boys well after school ended. Then this spring he turned an assigned book no one wanted to read into the only book anyone wanted to read, just by talking it up.

And when he quit recess football because he was afraid of getting hurt by his more aggressive classmates, he may have been teased by a few, but a few more ended up begging their parents to buy them Puffles (ridiculous stuffed animals inspired by a video game) so they could join his game.

His theory seems to be if you can’t be the best at the “fun stuff”, change what’s fun.

Then be consistent and joyful and welcome all, because when you let them play, they will spread the news – there’s something really fun going on, and I know the kid that’s making it happen.

How Not to Out-Cool Your Brother

Lately, we spend much time at dinner trying to out-cool one another. Last night was no different.

“I’m awesome!” sang third grader, pulling out his best Zeus pose with a mouthful of pasta. “You can’t name someone who is more awesome than me! Bam!”

“You’re not always the best,” said the fourth grader, who does not yet grasp the art of self-promotion.

“Oh yeah, who is?”

“I am… sometimes.” But he desperately wanted out of the conversation.

The preschooler, who typically climbs on the “I’m the greatest” bandwagon by wiggling his very small butt at you, tried instead to weasel out of a long day of bad behavior. “Dad gets a sweet convertible, then he gets whatever he wants. Bam!”

“Pop quiz!” the fourth grader blurted out, “Who was the first Pope?”

Interesting way to change the subject.

“Did you know he wanted to be put on the cross upside-down so he didn’t die like Jesus?”

Total chick magnet.