~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ resilience and reciprocity

An actual week of down time

Late july… TAG program had finished, nobody was visiting, the dojo was closed, it wasn’t time for theatre camp yet, and the only thing quinn had that week was 2 afternoon swim lessons. it was some much needed down time. We got to do things like family boating and have the family of camp boss came over to bounce. q binge listened to audio books to catch up on the wings of fire series- i took him to the library to get a few books (actual ones with pages) and it reminded him of series he wants to continue.


our pancakes visited! they seem like they are getting so big… until i see them next to quinn! He truly grew so very tall this past year. We all went to Arr place for breakfast, and then played at the big pirate ship playground. We flew kites at the beach, and went home for spaghetti dinner. Quinn is still branching out little by little with foods, and instead of his normal plain noodles with only parmesan on top, requested his noodles “lightly stained” with sauce.

Laptop repair

quinn made it through last school year using my old laptop, but by the end he was limping along with a cracked screen which would cause glitches (it is touch screen so the cracked area would act like it was the place being touched instead of wherever you were navigating with the actual mouse). after a tiny bit of research i spent $20 on a new screen/digitizer and one evening we took it apart, and the next morning we finished putting it back together! and turned it on! and it worked! It is hard to overstate how pleased we were with ourselves! It now acts as just a standard screen and no longer does touchscreen, so there might be a loose connection but the touch screen feature is not necessary. just the fact that it runs and didn’t completely get broken beyond repair by my repair is a win. Hurray for a second year of school with this laptop (fingers crossed) for $20!

Here he is putting in the last screw, whooping when it actually turned on, and then testing minecraft to enjoy the lack of glitches!

it’s been kind of nice that his laptop was under the weather. i didn’t rush to fix it for summer and i think he spent more time unplugged because of it. he used it some when it wasn’t acting up, but would eventually lose patience with glitches and do off screen playing.


he has days where he is not always up for conversation and will just silent treatment me. not in a mean way, it just seems he is inside there percolating. fixing the laptop screen was a fun activity together and we had a couple of good nights at karate, as he has been learning his green belt techniques, so it’s not all surliness. sifu was joking with him, “who is this person named quinn, we used to have a student named quinn a long time ago but he hasn’t been here in a long time,” and quinn was a little quiet then too, and at the end as we were leaving and sifu was concluding, “it’s just that i missed you and i’m glad you’re here.” Quinn was still quiet so i said, “and i missed you too, sifu.” i think our theme for 7th grade might be reciprocity… it covers the need for reliable two-way communication on the phone that lau and i talked about on the florida beach over smoothie bowls (memories!) and i have established is an area i want to see growth in; and reciprocity also covers being polite and, well, reciprocal in conversations (even if he didn’t feel like saying “i missed you too” then i still want him to say something that acknowledges the other person has spoken.

We had a reciprocity conversation in the car soon after that and i explained my thoughts on the phone and conversational aspects and said it’s my goal for him for 7th grade (like kitchen lunch making skills were a focus in 5th grade). he understood and seemed cheerful about it all. he hadn’t checked his phone since the previous morning, and he pulled it out to check and had messages from aragorn. he and aragorn are forming their band, naming it “the poets” and the song they want to learn right now is seven nation army  (the white stripes). i know come as you are (anyone here familiar with the band nirvana?) is also on their list to learn.

sneakers and the perception of coolness

another interesting topic arose around shoe buying… he wanted the same exact pair (saucony raptor) of running shoes as last year (still resists change as a general rule), but since he can’t (all i can find is a size 14) i looked up some other saucony and found a cool looking black pair with “slime” lime green accents, totally his color. i showed him, and he seemed to like them, but then he told me he wasn’t that excited about shoe buying because he’d still be uncool. Hold up, what? He explained, it’s the middle school thing where you have to have the In Brand of things and it’s all some kids talk about… so i asked what brand was cool last year, and he said it was Nike. i said, “well here’s the thing. i wear nikes because my feet are narrow. your feet are wide, so they might be wrong for your feet. but if you want to get nikes we can try, but i want you to try them on at the store first.” he was sort of relieved, “you mean they’re not too expensive?” and i said, “a lot of nikes are too expensive, but there are some i can afford, you would have to choose from those.” as we scrolled through them online so he saw the $8000 air jordans and the $75 dollar air pegasus (the ones i get). so a spinoff conversation happened about perceived coolness, how it changes later on into wanting to be set apart from others instead of being just like everyone else… and how it’s normal to want to do what others are doing in middle school, but that i wanted him to weigh his own likes and preferences and comfort above what others would think or like. Why be cool when you can be quull?

The next day he tried on nikes, they felt bad (too tight around his ankle) and the store only had black/white (no good colors). So he tried on saucony again. he said they felt exactly right like his old ones, and wanted to order the quull slime green ones. so i did. size 9 for those keeping score at home.

Theatre camp

q loved theatre camp as usual. they did a lot of who/what/where/when/why improvisation skits for the first few days and the first day he was a narrator, something to do with a bank guarding a cat shaped cake, and a rat came to try to steal it but it was not stolen in the end? The second day he told me, “i was a goldfish that was being carried in a sock, and really didn’t have any lines.” then we went up to middle school for registration and saw another kid who had just been at theatre camp as well who shouted across the parking lot, “hey goldfish in a sock!”

In quinn’s theatre camp performance this year, he was a battle-weary nutcracker toy who came to life with his gang of other animated toys (a ballerina on whom he had a crush, a teddy bear who liked to give him hugs when he would have war flashbacks, and a jack in the box) who all together came to life to try and save the toy shop from the evils of online shopping. the oscar may have to go to the girl who would enter each conversation the toys were having with, “did i hear you say….” and tried to entice them, in her “creepy house lady” automaton voice, to buy from her company spamazon, “which in no way was meant to resemble a copyrighted billion-dollar corporation” oh, how i love theatre kids. The icing on the cake was the spamazon emblem with, instead of an orange smiling arrow, an orange frowny face arrow.

q’s costume really accentuated his height- he wore a light blue soldier costume, with a very tall faux fur hat on his head – he looked impossibly tall. He did well with his role, and i love that they managed to feature him drumming in one scene where they did a talent show and his talent was drumming (just as the ballerina doll was an actual ballet student and got to showcase her moves). In the 2:00 show quinn had a small tom-tom type of drum, and the other toys danced while he drummed. In the 6:00 show, his entrance with the drum was late, and i heard his voice side stage call “on with the show!” and he came out carrying the helmet of the spamazon creepy lady and drummed on that. afterwards, he told me the drum had been completely missing, and so he improvised and grabbed that and carried on. I asked if someone was off stage helping him problem solve that… nope! I am SO proud of his ability to stay cool when things don’t go perfectly (he was downright cheerful about it and laughed it off) and that resilience right there is me getting my money’s worth on theatre camp.

Quinn told me that he met two girls r and e, and was happy to see his friend c with whom he has attended every theatre camp so far, but who goes to a different school, and the four of them played settlers of catan in between the 2:00 and 6:00 performances. goldberry was also attending this session, and played a hilariously emo teen character in one of the other groups. As usual, some of the youth screenwriting impressed me with the level of humor, worldliness, and existential depth.

we left for portland after the 6:00 performance and woke up to snuggles with our 6 month old (!) w pancake. She is the squishiest girl. Then it was time to head for the airport for our trip to new york!

On the planes and in the airport, quinn looked at his d and d players manual, looking like such a teen with his devices all plugged in charging and sipping a soy steamer. he also read his warriors book (he is about 6 books into the 25 or so there are in the series). On the long flight he turned on the map on his seat screen and obsessively updated me on our flight speed over the ground and amount of time to our destination. He asked if we would be getting our connecting flight in “the airport with the dinosaur” aka chicago o’hare, which was going to be the case on our return journey. The flight there went through boston, where we ate burgers for dinner.

We didn’t arrive at grammy and grampy’s house until after midnight, so you’ll have to stay tuned for next month’s lifelong learner installment to find out what happens next!

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