~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ playing in the band

~4-23 to 5-23~

we visited baby pancake w and quinn was great with her. she woke up from a nap sooner than expected and i had handed her over to him but she had started fussing in his arms, so i went to reach out and take her back thinking he might be worried or uncomfortable with her being fussy. he said, “no, just hand me her binky.” and the cutest ever mini-me moment of her falling asleep on him followed. he really is my son. he puts babies to sleep, and likes to read in the bathtub.



then he was so sleepy from having her sleep on him (it overcame him instantly) he was yawning and asked me to put something by his head for a pillow.

green home tour

At spring conferences, just about every teacher said a version of, “i just love the way his mind works/i am fascinated by the way he thinks/i love his mind/he has a great mind.” Also in the mix were “has such unique perspectives/i look forward to hearing the things he will say/he is one of the only students who gets all of my jokes.” The overall conference experience seemed to speak to the teachers’ recognition of an amazing amount of growth and adaptation to middle school for quinn.

quinn encountered some opportunities for growth in asserting himself this month. At the prospect of not being allowed to play his instrument and march in the parade due to a uniform shortage, he let his teacher know where he stood. He negotiated a deal in which he only marched if he got to play, which meant he would only march in the second of the two parades, but would also not have to march while carrying a banner instead of playing. I was pretty frustrated with him being excluded from playing, but opted to try to model making the best of a bad situation for quinn by volunteering for the band boosters, instead of encouraging him to stop going to rehearsals or quitting the band. On the side, however, rich got to hear quite a few rants about how kids join band so they don’t have to be cut from the team! I feel it is important for quinn that i find a way to support him continuing with band, as i heard him telling colleagues that band is his favorite subject in school (with math being his favorite subject at home, apparently. Oh the things i learn when listening to conversations he has with other adults!)

quinn did well using the days off for conferences to catch up on travel hacking assignments. It can take him a long time to do them but he is coming along. one assignment was 10 questions about a chosen “underrated” travel location (chosen from a list). he picked western australia “because penguin island is right off the coast of western australia!” and he had answered all but one question when i checked on him- but it was question 5 (not 10!! not the last one! he skipped ahead and answered 6-10! a tiny but significant success!) and he said to me, “i’ve read 15 articles to answer this question!” then wrote his answer. the question was “what do australians think of americans?” and his answer (after reading 15 articles) was the one sentence, “Australians like us as individuals, but they don’t know what to make of us as a whole.”

and if i wasn’t hung up on “maybe more than one sentence would be good”, i would be able to pay more attention to how succinct an answer that is about how citizens of other countries often feel about americans. the thing is, he learned and summarized and synthesized information from 15 articles and i just don’t know how apparent that is to teachers from just the one sentence.

Going down the google rabbit hole is a major reason his classwork often doesn’t get done – it is hard for him to regulate browsing and manage his time simultaneously (each is a difficult executive function skill on its own, so the pair of skills is difficult squared), because there is more to learn everywhere you turn on the internet!

he has been spending more time on duolingo working on his italian!


~more cowbell~


we finished listening to moon over manifest which was written by the same author as navigating early which we adored last month (clare vanderpool is the author). this one was awesome, too. i like when quinn listens ahead, then he listens to whatever part i’m on and says “‘you have to hear this part!” it reveals parts he really liked or thought were intense or wants me to also pay close attention to.

I’ve been reading born on a blue day by daniel tammet, which i learned about in the authors note in navigating early. it has me almost in tears in parts that read so much like quinn. The author so eloquently described how social situations are hard for someone with asperger’s, how teachers would see him as spacing out when he was engaged in other thinking. he even talks about difficulties riding bikes and swimming, and uncoordinated walking because of looking at his feet. i still sometimes waffle back to my stance of quinn maybe being an aspie with a bunch of neurotypical quirks from having a quirky mama, rather than the other way around. In the first chapter he describes his extreme number-color synesthesia. prompted by a paragraph about “showing work” in math and how in his brain there wasn’t “work,” there was an answer, and how he struggled to follow the “carry the one” rules the teacher wanted him to use, quinn said, “i bet he had trouble in school.”

when quinn got home one friday i had finished adding legs to his lego table (grateful my husband helped me with this project; much lego activity ensued) and i had also added a new extra green shelf to his room. he was all ready to put his whole life of fred series of books in one place, in order, on said shelf, filling the rest with finished lego creations. he has been reading one of his birthday books called elements about the periodic table. the writing is hilarious, a little rick riordan-esque, and he is memorizing lines. he was reading aloud to me about how most metals are a dull gray in elemental form, and that there are only 3 metals that are non-gray: gold, copper and cesium. gold is nice but expensive, so a lot of people make jewelry out of copper because it is also not gray and much cheaper than gold. As far as the third option, “the main disadvantage of cesium as a metal for making jewelry is that it explodes on contact with skin.” he started giggling like crazy. he woke up the next morning quoting it to me, and laughed all over again. he is also reading the stars beneath our feet (a novel about a 12 year old boy in harlem; we heard about it when signing him up for summer TAG program and although he did not want to take the book discussion class, he did want me to check the book out of the library so he could read it). and of course, he is still reading calculus when the mood strikes. i impulse-bought him chess mathematics which is a chess math puzzle book, which i didn’t know to google until i read about a chess math puzzle in born on a blue day. he hasn’t picked that up yet but i know he will soon – still strewing like an unschooler over here. he has also been re-reading percy jackson’s greek heroes.

since he was doing state testing for two weeks out of this month, it was nice to see him want to come home and learn/read/absorb. he seems to have percolated on state testing and decided to go ahead and do it, with no fanfare and no fuss.

School vs learning

There was a post in my raising poppies group from a mom who was wondering how we keep our poppies’ learning lights from being dimmed by the damage public school can do, and described how her son’s had been so dampened in a year. I am ever watchful for this while quinn is in public school, and it is the thing that would cause me to go back into battle with his dad to fight to home school. It was good for me to reflect on how quinn has been able to, i don’t know how, draw a very big distinction between what is Learning and what is School. School he tolerates and likes for social reasons, and for being able to play in Band. Learning is what he is always doing (and loves, and thirsts for, in fact he seems driven more by this than by food or water!), and if you ask him where he learns best, he will say at home. He is double accelerated in School math (doing algebra) and comes home and grudgingly does the homework assignment so that he can go read his Life of Fred calculus book. It seems particular to his personality to be able to keep his light burning in spite of how school circumstances can sometimes seem bent on dimming it. I am thankful for the bright spots in his schooling, such as the teachers who recognize his wonderful mind, who do what they can to encourage his light to continue to shine brightly.

mother’s day brunch


Looking ahead to summer, quinn is getting excited for paleontology camp, theatre camp, and tag adventures in learning. I also spoke with a karate mom friend about working with him one on one for swim lessons. I have stopped saying “yet” attached to “he doesn’t ride a bike” this year, he simply doesn’t ride a bike and it is well with my soul. But by golly, the lad will swim.

May is 42 kinds of busy with school, marching band rehearsals, karate classes, as well as thinking ahead and signing up for all of what the summer will bring. One day i wrote, “may is overwhelm month. tonight we had papa murphy’s (take and bake pizza) for dinner. tomorrow probably nachos.”

Quinn also found may to be overwhelming on at least one occasion. he had a momentary bout of resenting activities because of not having enough spare time. he said he doesn’t understand why other kids don’t feel this way and are all about the activities and don’t need down time, and i told him it was good to know this about himself. We had a good discussion about honoring that need, prioritizing goals, finding balance, all things i want him to be reflecting on regularly.



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