Monday, March 15, 2010

When it rains...

A and I are so mad at ourselves. Every few years in late winter, we get a huge rainstorm, and our basement floods with a couple of inches of water. Last Friday, we knew a big storm was coming and we made plans to move things around in the basement just in case, but did we think to go buy a sump pump? Idiots! (And, why we have never had a pump installed since we know that this happens every few years, well that just proves we're idiots.)

So, we've received between 6 and 8 inches of rain this weekend, and there are at least two more to go before the sun returns tomorrow morning. And, currently, there's about 3-4 inches of water in the basement. Of course, there are no sump pumps to be had anywhere in New England. We do have one coming overnight via Amazon, thank goodness. And, we still have heat and hot water for the moment, so I am very thankful for that. But we are not looking forward to the cleanup and mold prevention we're going to have to do this week.

One good thing about the basement flooding, though, is that it always gets us to get rid of a lot of stuff. We started that process last weekend, but I think we'll be parting with a lot more items once cleanup begins tomorrow.

The other thing that's freaking me out is that R's teacher sent home a note on Friday asking to talk to us because R has been having trouble completing tasks at school. She stressed that it's not because anything is too hard for him; he just gets distracted. I don't react well to this kind of news. I immediately think I'm a terrible parent, and we'll have to homeschool R, and how will I afford that because one of us will have to quit our job, etc.

As a recovering academic overachiever, I have a hard time relating to my child who is not - at least in terms of school. He's very bright, and he is fully capable of reading, writing, etc. He's just not that interested in doing it. Homework (what little he has) is already something to gripe and procrastinate about.

The thing is, when R is motivated and interested in something, he can concentrate on it for HOURS. Yesterday, when we were stuck inside all day avoiding the deluge, R assembled his own model rocket almost completely by himself - including carefully gluing the parts together, applying decals, coloring his own design on the parachute. It took a lot of fine motor skills and concentration. I see those same things when he's assembling Lego kits. With things like that, he's completely self-motivated, he works hard, and he is so proud of himself when he is done. That doesn't happen much with his schoolwork.

Plus, I think R has become another version of Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes). He's got a slightly twisted sense of humor and way of thinking. A few weeks ago, all the kids in his class were supposed to draw their dream house and write about it. When I volunteered in the classroom, I checked out all the kids' completed projects. Most of the kids drew castles, mansions, big, crazy amazing houses. R had a nice drawing, but it was a plain house. I thought, "Wow! R appreciates what I've been saying about how money doesn't equal happiness. Cool!" Then I read what he wrote about it: "I made my house boring so other kids wouldn't like it." (Actually, in kindergartener writing, it was: "I mad my hous bring so othr kiz wudnt lik it.")

Another project was writing about places they go to in our town. There were three pages of "I go to" and the kids filled that in with "the park," "the library," "the gas station," "the movie theater," etc. R's were pretty standard, except that he wrote "I go to the cemetery." Um, we've NEVER taken him to the cemetery in our town or possibly any other town, so I don't know what that was about, but whatever. The last page of the booklet was supposed to be "I don't go to..." and talk about a place that isn't in our town - like "the desert," "the mountains," "the moon," etc. R missed the point a little and wrote "I don't explode" and then drew a picture of a bomb. The clincher was that the bomb had a thought bubble that said: "Is it time to go home yet?" I think he might be a little bored. :-(

So, we'll see what his teacher says. She's very creative and has great suggestions, but I admit that I'm feeling a little pessimistic about this. I'm not sure how we'll get R more interested in school unless he gets to focus on hands-on science experiments all day long, separated only by half-hour sessions of rock climbing, running, and obstacle courses. School can be very boring. A lot of it was for me, too, even though I was very motivated to please my teachers and do well. But if R's already distracted and uninterested in kindergarten, I think we may be in for a very long 12 years. 


Rob R. said...


Here's a link to an article I did a couple of years ago about Peg Tyre, the author of "The Trouble With Boys":

She argues that boys aren't any less capable of doing well at school than girls, but that schools — especially in these days of standardized tests and "core curricula" tend to reward students who are neat and organized, and penalize those who are imaginative and enjoy taking risks.

Like you, I enjoyed school; I still prefer being organized to taking risks. But as a teacher, I learned quickly that many of my best students — both boys and girls — did not have a chance to sign while required to sit at a desk all afternoon filling out forms. I'm not sure every teacher has gotten that message yet.

Kim for the Kings said...

Oh flooded basements... As I type, our basement is being pumped as well. I think our landlord is kicking himself for not investing in a sump pump also. This has to be some expensive work going on right now. I think we'll be throwing a lot out as well since we were using the basement as storage. Crazy!

sandwhichisthere said...

to use a sump pump you have to have a hole in the floor and piping to the outside. The electrical cautions are very important.
I learned a great deal about young children in school from Mrs. Rae. The relevant condition is that R is very bright. He becomes bored by most of the activities most children find challenging. He will always find a path that is different from others. The fact that he is able zero in on a task that requires concentration and a long time to complete rules out ADD. Your problem is that your son is incredibly smart and tends to ignore the mundane. You will have to deal with this for at least twelve years. Try to recall how you dealt with school as you were also incredibly bright.
Mrs. Rae told me that both my Brother and I were ADD. She said that it was unusual that neither of us was left handed as many ADD children are. Both my Brother and I are able to zero in on tasks that are new or very complicated but tend to walk away from things that are too easy or irrelevant. I asked her why that was never picked up by the schools as we were both educated in Newton which has an excellant school system. She created a scenario for me. "A child is extremely bored by the everyday class. It is the same every day. The child is taken out of the class to be evaluated for ADD. This is something new and not the same as the everyday class. It is interesting. The results will always be that the child is not ADD as the child payed attention to the testing.".
Did I ever tell you about learning to wiggle one ear in Biology class when the teacher told us that humans used to be able to wiggle just one ear but cannot do it anymore? I spent the rest of the term learning to wiggle one ear and never learned a thing about Biology.
There is nothing wrong with R. The problem is that the school is not challenging his mind. His mind is finding different ways to find a challenge. I can't wait to see how he treats snowmen. Does he have a Transmogrifier?
I don't know how to deal with the flooding as I have never experienced it. Call the local Fire Department, they may have a way to deal with it. If you need a place to stay, I have a pullout couch and can easily accomodate all of you. If you are unable to procure a suitable pump, I think the local hardware store here has them and they rent equipment. I will check if you need me to. A local equipment rental place near you might also have them but, due to the circumstances, ther may be a long waiting list,
P.S. I remember reading years ago that if Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Archimedes were all in the same Kindergarten class, they would have all been sent to the Principle's office as being unteachable. They wouldn't have followed the rules.