The Second Child Picks a State

In fourth grade, our school requires that each student become the class expert on a particular state of their choosing.

Last year, my oldest son chose South Dakota because we had just returned from Mount Rushmore, a place he “always wanted to go”. He was barely able to contain his joy.

This year, our second fourth grader in two years watched as classmates chose Georgia (he’s a huge Falcons fan) and Massachusetts (he likes the Red Sox and the batting cages on Cape Cod).

“All my states were gone by the time it was my turn to choose!”

I know my son. If he isn’t going to get what he wants, he is going to make it easy. He picked South Dakota.

His teacher does not how closely he watches his big brother do homework or how relentlessly he infuses his opinions into his brother’s project work. So she said that as long as he does not copy his brother’s report, he can keep South Dakota.

“I’m not going to copy his report,” he told us matter-of-factly at dinner. “I’m just going to erase his name and put mine. No copying necessary.”

The challenge for Mom is getting him – with all the same photos from our trip and my limited tourist’s knowledge – to dig deeper into the piece of earth that is South Dakota and to make it his state.

Fortunately, our youngest will not make the same choice. On our return drive from South Dakota, he stared out his window. Miles of dry prairie seemed to keep us from home. Impatient and pissed off, he asked, “Are we still in America?”