Sunday, April 15, 2007

Struggling with school

I spent a lot of time writing and rewriting my column this week. It’s about the crazy Sichuan trip. I sent it out to a bunch of you earlier today and will be posting up here next week. If anyone reading this didn’t get it and would like to drop me a line.


I wasn’t really sure how the kiss felt about our death-defying bus ride in Sichuan so I asked Jacob the other day, ”Were you scared during that long bus ride?”

“A little.”

“Why? What were you scared of? “

“Bus very wide. Road very narrow. Road very high.”

“Ah yes,” I said. “”But what were you actually scared of?”

He looked me right in the eye and illustrated a bus falling off a cliff. So he got it. And that made proud, actually. Proud that he was actually aware of how freaky a situation we were in and was able to hold it together, not panic or let on that he understood we were in a perilous plight.

I’ve also had some interesting conversations with Eli. He’s having a slightly rough ti e in school again right now. They have to do these workbooks every morning, and he has been complaining about them off and on for two years now. Whenever he masters what he’s working on and they bump up the level, he rebels and complains bitterly. He did it the other night at the end of a rough week, where he was bumping against authority quite a bit. He threw a fit which was set off when I tired to get him to do this little one-page math homework sheet, which he does every night and is really no problem.

Eventually, he said “I’m out of here” and stormed out of the house. I fololwed him down the street, stopped him asked where he was going.

“To school. I am going to free the children and rip up all the workbooks.”

That touched me and made me feel really bad that we were subjecting him to this. But it’s confusing because he really seems to enjoy school most of the time.

I was trying to discuss all this with him and he sort of sighed and said, “You just don’t understand life, dad.”

Jacob was trying to help and he wanted to explain to Eli that ripping up the workbooks would not have helped. “Some of the kids would have been mad at you, Eli, “he said.

“No,” Eli insisted. “Why?”

“Well, literacy is the hardest subject in my class and a lot of kids hate it but I love it.” He was trying to make Eli see that not everyone would feel the same as him, but Eli took it differently:

“I’m not you, Jacob. I’m not like you.”

So I said, “Eli, you’re different, of course. Everyone’s different. That’s what Jacob s trying to say. Some kids might like the workbooks. But even though everyone’s different, we’re all more alike than anyone.”

“Our BNA is almost the same, Eli,” said Jacob.

“It’s DNA,” I corrected. “But yes, we’re more alike than anyone else.”

Eli shook his said and said, “You’re nothing like us, dad. You’re totally different.”

“Why?”

He was incredulous. “Okay, number one you’re 40! And number two, you’re bald.”

And then we all had a good laugh and this little storm passed. But it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.