~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 2

continued from part 1

watching the moon with quinn one night, we saw a dragon cloud overtake the moon, sliding up its nostril and eventually becoming its eye. though the moon was enfolded in wisps of cloud, the cloud was now illuminated from within. dragons are always on our minds here at the dragon house, but especially for quinn recently as he has been reading eragon and making spinoff dragon cards for a new game. his first two creations of a wind drake and a storm drake are pictured, including an extra-spirally tail on the storm drake!

in his game about barbarians, archerers, giants, and goblins, situated among castles and builder huts, barracks and cannons and archer towers, he developed a defense of a spring coil, to propel enemies back over the wall surrounding the compound when triggered. then he modified it to have them land on yet another weapon, a tesla. he explained this electrical-magnetic device to me, and i asked him where he had learned the word tesla.

don’t you know, he read about tesla in the t section of the dictionary back in fourth grade. when he was reading the dictionary one day. as one does.

i had him browse the wikipedia article about nikola tesla and his eidetic memory and amazing mind. i thought maybe he could relate to the guy.

he still pronounces archer “archerer.” the holdouts are few and far between now, and he will reminisce with me about certain ones like “last day” for yesterday and “next day” for tomorrow, which were his staple reference points in time as a toddler. this is the type of thing i wasn’t able to anticipate about being a parent; as i’m headed up my spiral staircase, he is also wandering up his, and we’re both reaching vantage points along the way from which we are both looking back downward and outward together… it’s impossible to articulate what a trip it is.

quinn’s tag pull-out class was re-established to close out the school year. they took a field trip to an escape room, full of different locks and puzzles and codes they had to put together. he had fun, and though he said his group went over the time limit, they got to the end of all of the clues anyway. he described it all in intricate detail (such as tables with checkerboards painted on them) and was pleased to bring home a souvenir key. the kids are planning to build their own escape room to put their peers through back at school, so this was good research!

other forms of entertainment besides watching math videos this month have included a may the fourth! star wars movie night at home with (the best ever, made by rich) popcorn.

he and i played his new strategy game (from his easter basket) called odin’s ravens.

we also attended the dance performance of the wizard in oz in which several of our young friends danced.

one sunday after a women’s self defense seminar, i asked quinn to go for a jog with me. i started teaching him about which side of the road to run on, pointing out exceptions and how to make a judgement call when you’re on winding back roads with various amounts of shoulder. he is a good little runner, very uncoordinated but has endurance and is cheerful about it. i need to get him some better shoes to run in than his vans. we decided we’ll run to karate sometimes so we can be in good shape for fall cross country season.

one week quinn was sent to the library during the time his classmates did each state test session, to work on his “elo” or extra learning opportunity. he made a google slide presentation comparing mythologies from 4 different cultures (greek, roman, norse, and egyptian), as he had planned ahead to do. he missed both thursday and friday of the school week (at his dad’s house) and i learned later that he had not been collected from the library after each test session in a reliable enough manner, and that he had missed lunch period both tuesday and wednesday as a result.

i asked quinn more details about what had happened, and whereas his dad had framed the oversight as something more sinister (shame/disapproval/punishment by staff of those opting out of testing), i found out from quinn that he had been sitting in an area behind some book fair shelves on a low cushion, causing no trouble for the librarian who had her regular library classes coming and going, in addition to book fair. i explained to quinn that he has a choice of how he looks at what other people say and do, and it’s possible that his dad might interpret something in a very negative way without having all the information. we can choose just as easily to interpret what happened as an unfortunate oversight, and if we give people the benefit of the doubt that they are in a jumbled up routine and the dots didn’t connect how they were supposed to, it makes it easier to adapt. equally importantly, i also encouraged him that he can speak up for himself, and say “hey, i didn’t get lunch” to a teacher (this he did not do), who might be able to open up a box of granola bars for him at the very least. spending our energy on developing strategies to make it in the system instead of judging the system. that’s a lot of baggage i don’t want him to carry around.

as it turns out, this story has a silver lining… his friends, to whom we’ll refer as aragorn, gimli, and legolas, had grabbed him a bag of carrots and a fruit cup (the portable lunch items) and brought them to recess for him after lunch on the second day of him missing lunch, because they had his back and were worried about him missing it again. i asked him if he had been okay missing school the following two days, or if he would rather have gone, so he could be with his friends, and he said he had agreed to stay home, but that he had also wanted to go. i let him know i felt it was okay for him to insist on going, even if his dad was leaning towards having him stay home. self-advocating still a hot topic, and looks like it will be for a while yet.

quinn helped me come up with pseudonyms for his three friends, and though we explored pokemon, star wars, or naruto characters, we agreed the reference to the fellowship made perfect sense. encouraged by the friendships forming and bonds building among these four throughout fifth grade, i have been thinking of ways to try and nurture their bond over the coming summer, and into the start of sixth grade. i don’t want to necessarily hyper manage his social calendar, but i also hear a lot from the poppy moms about how hard a time so many of them have with finding and keeping friends… so being able to foster it a little bit into these middle school years feels like a good investment. they’re his friends, he made them himself, i just feel like i could nudge things in the right direction to keep the friendships going over the summer and into next year… when it may feel like it matters more to have some dependable friends.

he presented his comparative mythology research, result of the three days he spent in the library, and i was so glad i got to be there for it – because he advocated for doing it during my thursday afternoon volunteer time. i took video… it’s 14 minutes long. the sound is poor, but it’s possible to hear his voice over the bouncing yoga balls if you play it in a completely quiet room.




we had a delightful visit from our pancakes in april! lots of minecraft and dragon playing went on in between basketball games!

we attended a karate seminar with our sifu’s sifu. he’s a fun older guy with a 7th degree black belt, we like him, and he’s a good teacher. he loves quinn and i, always remembers our names. our mrs. todd was testing for her black belt (the big reason for his visit from california) and quinn was very excited to congratulate her on her promotion!


one saturday i took quinn with me to farmer’s market because rich was also working, and he was a big help again. we got to leave early, and attempted to go visit the tall ships for deck tours. however, there was a super long line and even though we stood in it for over an hour, they had to close before we could get on. quinn was very bummed, actually shed a few tears even though we had been talking about how it might happen, but he bounced back really well. i took his picture with the ships, and then we decided to try and watch their “battle sail” from the shore. we sat on the bay beach and ate our lunch and bundled up in a blanket and watched them. it worked out well, but they didn’t do much battling; gotta love when it’s too windy for sailing. by the end of our adventure, he was content. this was timely, because i really needed to use the bathroom, and i said, “i could just go over behind those bushes,” but quinn wouldn’t have it, “no! do not besmirch nature like that!” i was laughing so hard at his word choice that he wondered if he had pronounced it correctly, and i knew then for sure that it was another case of a word learned from literature. he was grinning at his correct usage and pronunciation, when i assured him he had it right. (i did not besmirch nature, i went inside the visitor’s center.)

in other vocabulary news, i have been getting called out on exaggerating things, with a quick retort of, “that’s hyperbole, mom.”

at our spring parent-teacher conference, his teacher told us what a long way quinn has come in his writing, saying he is most certainly ready for middle school in that area… “he is using appositives correctly, he’s ready for semi-colons.” (quinn chimed in, “i already do use semi-colons!”) moving right along to the next topic…

the pythagorean theorem, of course. his star test results are saying he’s ready for that type of math, and she went over again how she wants him to continue his khan academy math over the summer. she feels he is doing great, going at a good pace, and as long as he plans to continue over summer, will be in good shape to skip ahead to the 7/8 accelerated math for which she recommended him; where they learn the pythagorean theorem and then in 8th grade he’ll be walking down to the high school for geometry.

she said he’s ready for things in middle school, and recognizes that he needs a lot more challenges put in front of him than what she has been able to do in her limited way, and we get to start to expand on that in middle school. she recommended we visit with the teachers (at least for math and language arts) at the very beginning of the year to let them know that sometimes quinn needs cueing on certain executive function things, but to let them know about his test results and that he is ready for the challenges, and make sure they are putting those in front of him- there is no accelerated language arts, but she made a good point in that the students tend to get sorted a bit more by level in middle school, and i remember that… i was in enriched english and accelerated math with the same set of kids, who therefore kept showing up in my other class periods for p.e., french, science, social studies… because we had the same constraints on our schedule. this ends up meaning for quinn that his particular class for english may tend to be able to handle more advanced stuff as well.

on needing more coaching or cueing on things non-academic… he has made lots of gains in these executive function areas, but has room to grow. my job as i see it is to empower him to solve these things, and if that means an extra one hundred conversations about not avoiding bathroom use, that’s what i’ll do. i feel the same way about self advocating (about bathrooms, math classes, or parental duties to drive him to his activities,) and plan to keep the whole conversation going. the latest addition to the time management tool box is a watch, and he has been wearing it consistently and reporting on the time at regular intervals. rich and i are hoping it serves to increase his awareness of how much time various tasks require, and maybe clue him in on where he loses track of time.

on conference days, he went to work with me, set up a schedule for the day, and stuck to it while i was stuck in a freezer for 3 hours! he even did some khan academy math, a homework summary, and spent lots of time on khan computer programming (he has completed over 90 lessons as of this writing! essential items such as how to code a rainbow!). he also played a little minecraft and read some of eragon.  then he wrote music note letters into his sheet music for hedwig’s theme. over the course of these two months, he has become proficient at playing the song, and i think he is very proud of this accomplishment.

he participated in open house and the spring concert at school (they played recorders, which was priceless). all he wanted to do was go make slime in one of the classrooms, as they had a “fair” atmosphere with activities. his hands were too warm, so he got all gooey and messy.

at the nexus between quinn’s math and music concentrations, he found himself once again engrossed in vi hart’s imaginitive and fun video on “folding space-time” which turns out to be centered around a tiny hand-crank music box that will play notes punched in strips of paper. even mobius strips! vi explains how music is a great medium in which to play with the dimensions of both space and time, and my hat is off to her for enfolding so much wonder and delight into her videos, whose nerd metaphors are now permanently embedded into my son’s psyche. i couldn’t resist obtaining a music box for quinn so he, too, can fold space-time.

at quinn’s school, students are voted for by their classmates throughout the year for exemplifying each of their “eight essentials.” (the full list of eight: respect,    kindness,    patience,  selflessness,  honesty,  forgiveness,  humility  and  commitment.) quinn was nominated for the commitment award! he was very proud that his peers felt him to be a committed person. i affirmed that i observe him to be very committed: when he sets a goal, he doesn’t give up, and goes on to achieve it with focus and determination, or as our karate principles describe it, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. but also, in the sense of commitment to people he loves, or causes he believes in, i see evidence of a very caring, principled, and loyal guy!

tour of sixth grade science classroom; at his table, from left: gimli, quinn, aragorn, and legolas

something that was a pretty big deal in may was the field trip to visit the middle school! i was asked to go along as a chaperone, which was an insightful peek at how nurturing these fifth grade teachers must be. there was high intensity that day, spanning the full range of human emotion. this is a huge transition for a kid, as i well recall. i think quinn is mostly taking it in stride, is excited about the new opportunities he’ll be met with, and ready to take on this new set of challenges. he had one minor freak out about a lost raffle ticket, but his peers were all over the board with elation and trepidation.

along with the explosion in learning/absorbing, there has also been a period of emotional intensity. as a result of forgetting to take care of his basic needs for food, water, bathroom, throughout the day (executive function skills), he has had a few music lessons where he was not at his best. processing those times after the fact is also intense, requiring quite a bit of finesse to extract what is going on internally for him, and involve him in finding solutions. i have been working on finding a good balance of stern firmness (holding the line of politeness to his music teacher) and compassionate sounding board (patiently waiting for the “it” that is really bothering him to be revealed, nodding understandingly that the piece of paper he didn’t want cut that morning and the disagreement over the game with his friend caused his “really bad day”), then revisiting lessons from earlier in life about mindfulness of staying on top of processing our emotions in real time so that we don’t take them out later in the day on our unsuspecting music teacher.

by lights out the night of one such discussion, he was telling me “i love you as big as the sky, as big as the ocean all the way to the moon… no… do you know the name of any galaxies besides ours, the milky way?”


“well then, all the way past the milky way and back again eleven quintillion times.”

enfolded in the layers of all those surly emotions, there it is.

p.s. in the spirit of lifelong learning, i looked up some other galaxies. and quinn, i love you all the way to gn-z11 and back again, eleven quintillion times. (that’s 32 billion light years away, folks! it’s found in the constellation ursa major, aka the big dipper. there are also a sunflower galaxy, a whirlpool galaxy and a tadpole galaxy, all very cool looking, but they’re not as distant!)


4 comments to ~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 2

  • dear camp boss, i’m not sure why comments got closed again on the part 1 post, but i’m not going back in there to fix it this time, sister. it was an arduous process and i gave up even trying to align the photos, my post kept getting clipped (hell hath no fury like me when my words are stolen!) and i gave up and hit publish so i can move on. now there seem to be weird glitches with the you tube clip, it should show quinn doing his presentation, but in my browser i got the sesame street video from my birthday instead. apparently i need to perform an exorcism on my blog. comments are open here, so feel free to comment on any post you like in this space, and i will endeavor to eliminate gremlins.

  • camp boss

    Haaaaa!!!! I love that you commented first as a heads up to me!! verbosity continued but the warning for a cuppa was appreciated….but I got so caught up in reading my tea got cold, now the microwave is beeping telling me it has been warmed….for the second time!

  • camp boss

    Mary undoer of knots….Pray for us!! 😉

  • yes please untie these cyber knots! laughing about your cold tea. aw shucks, it’s such a compliment that you get so caught up in my verbosity you forget to drink your tea. i’m glad you appreciated my addendum written directly to you.

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