~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ null gravity

I’m playing catch up on some lifelong learner posts… I had put this process on pause during the early stages of the pandemic when it still felt too raw to look at such normal memories full of things that felt certain (like going to school); now it feels like more of a comfort to remember these moments, so the time is right. Also, we remain lifelong learners; time marches on and more lifelong learner posts are always in the making… can’t let the backlog get too out of hand. Sending love to all the home learners, whether it’s what you’ve always done, or a new path laid out before you.

~10-23 through 11-23-19~

This was the first Halloween in quite a few years that I got to see Quinn! It takes all the fingers of one of my hands to count the years I sewed Pokemon costumes (Spheal, Kyogre, Bulbasaur, Charizard, and Rowlet) and sent them off with him to wear while his dad took him trick-or-treating, or didn’t. This year, Quinn advocated for himself and made his own Halloween plans, and I was lucky enough to be involved (and with no big sewing requirements of me). Although Halloween fell on a Thursday (the day before he would come back to me from his Dad’s), he asked me to pick him up from school that afternoon and take him to the dojo to have a cookie contest with Sifu and another karate kid, each of whom baked their own batch for a cookie-bake-off. Since Quinn was going to be at his dad’s the night he needed to do his baking, he measured out his ingredients in a tupperware to bring to his dad’s, and made a plan to bake them in the toaster oven there. He baked his jam thumbprints and he brought them to the dojo! Then he participated in the final Haunted House of the year.

Quinn is navigating his homework journey with the added component of coparent’s tension on the subject. He seems to be keeping his dad in the dark about some of his assignments in order to protect against added anxiety and stress in that household. We had some serious talk about that, and about how kids aren’t supposed to have to take care of their parents on an emotional level, but he was very matter of fact. “It’s in my own best interest,” he explained, and I acknowledged his point, but also asked if he could think of any areas where he had to handle me and my emotions that way so they didn’t overflow onto him. “Nope!” He seemed relieved I wasn’t going to be an informant, but I just nod and smile when coparent tells me Quinn is all caught up, because Quinn lets me know the real work load when we get home. He is going to have more work to do in this area so he doesn’t fall behind each week he is at his other parent’s house, but I think he is already developing those strategies by metering how much communication he is doing about homework at all. I have encouraged him that he can just get to work without saying much at all, and that “less is more” can sometimes be a good communication policy on topics that can cause stress. He is also developing some capabilities such as finishing an assignment during another class (!) which, while it is less ideal than doing it at home, is an executive function skill to be sure, and one I wasn’t sure I would ever see him do.

When I got home from farmer’s market on Saturday he made a plan for the evening. He is rocking this – I give him some parameters like, it’s 3pm now, and you have until 8:30 when you get ready for bed, and you can fill in that time however you think would work well. Please fit in dinner somewhere. Then he sets his timer and sticks to the plan. No nagging! In two different sessions of one hour he got his binder completely organized. On Sunday he made an all-day plan (we had 12-2 blocked out for going to the Fill-your-pantry market to pick up our 4 gallons of honey, and I asked him to fit in meals and a shower). He stuck to the plan, opted to shower in the earlier of the two possible shower time slots, doesn’t need twenty-seven reminders and assists with showers anymore, it’s really crazy how development is just speeding along right now. That day he completed two math assignments, a couple pages of math notes, a social studies current event, a science assignment, and a language arts essay!!!!! It was five hours of homework but he wasn’t judging it because “things take me longer.” Much of it was past due work but the current event was turned in early.

That was what I meant when I said he was majestically rising to the occasion.

We had some details to work out about the holiday calendar, and Quinn got to practice letting his dad have his feelings, then deciding to do what he wants to do (take his belt test, even though it would take place on their evening of solstice). I asked if he felt caught in middle and he said it was more like he felt like all alone, like he alone could settle and decide things. I think he is noticing that he is growing into a lot of decision power and it’s good, but hard.

We got home one Friday and food was administered, but around 5:30 I recalled that last year’s day two or three gratitude had been about the middle school dance, and I had been thinking there must be one coming up soon… sure enough, it was that night. We’re still working on the two-way communication while he is at his Dad’s… But he showered and changed and I took him back to the dance, since he knew some of his friend group would be there and wanted to go. When he got outside after the dance, he looked like he was a little bummed out. When I asked what was up he said, “the friend group might break up,” and explained about two unrequited crushes, and if they both find out their crushes don’t like them, it could really destabilize the whole group and he worried that it would break. He was very upset, and I tried to tell him I thought as friends they would still have their friendships, even if it was uncomfortable to hang as a group for a time. I thought maybe it was going to be ok because maybe they wouldn’t all break each others’ hearts all at once, and maybe there is more we don’t know that can happen. I said if the group did split up, he’d still be friends with each person, and if there were brokenhearted friends, he could look around and see which friend needed him most and be a good friend to them. By the time we got home he seemed to feel better. These car ride conversations. There have been others lately with high emotions and deep topics, he and his friends being at an age where the various dimensions of their identity are really being explored.

I noticed this week I can see his Adam’s apple. and his voice has gotten one level deeper.

One night he fell asleep upside down in bed on top of his covers before he brushed teeth or said good night.

The next morning, he ate a stack of pancakes then decided he would also have the biscuits and sausage gravy that rich and I were having. I always make Quinn a biscuit, but he used to say the gravy was too spicy. This morning he just gobbled it up for second breakfast (which was eaten while he was still sitting at first breakfast.)

Quinn finished reading Ender’s Game… he loved it. That series is one of those that I’ve been waiting all his life until he would be ready for it. I recently took his hoopla (library app) off of kids mode, because I feel like it’s time for him to not have his literature censored… he may come across something more graphic, but he also is getting old enough that I think he needs more unfiltered access to the world, where he decides on the filtering out… and can come to me with questions of what he encounters, etc. I still have google on safe search – that’s still letting a lot through, but keeping out the most obscene things, and I haven’t lifted the you tube safe mode controls yet either (again…. still a lot available with that filter in place).

He got another booster shot, this time for MMRV (measles mumps rubella and varicella aka chicken pox).

He had some major fear/anxiety this time, leading up to the appointment. It was like stages of grief. he shed tears, he bargained, he did denial… I just sort of let him process. We had same nurse who was great last time (lets him watch the needle like I’m sure zero other children besides poppies). The room had dinosaur stickers on the wall but they were cartoonish and we laughed about the triceratops with four horns. Then we were talking about Ender’s Game now that he is reading the second book (Speaker For the Dead), and he was reminding me of all the cool null gravity combat details and why Ender was so good at it. Quinn really loves the use of three-dimensional space and x-y-z coordinates in the book. Ender’s trick of designating the enemy’s gate as “down” was a big deal, and once he said it, I remembered it from when I’ve read the series myself. When I told him that I have been waiting for him to be ready to read that series, he said, “and I finally am reading it, and now I’m like obsessed with null gravity combat!”

After the shot, the nurse asked him, “so how much did that hurt?” He said, “not much!” I said, “can I get that recorded?” and we all laughed. When we went out to the car Quinn actually did record a video selfie to his future self about how the fear is worse than the shot itself, and that he should not worry about the pain and just be calm.

On the ride home, we  discussed the way Ender travels between planets that are x number of light years away and how it only takes him a week or so to get 22 light years away and meanwhile his brother had been the ruler of Earth after he and his sister left, but 3000 years have passed on Earth while Ender is only a few years older. Relativity space-time stuff. “It’s kind of like wrinkling, I think,” he said.

His current math unit is the Pythagorean theorem, and he loves that, but especially that besides a2 + b2 = c2 there is also a2 + b2 + c2 = d2 to handle the third dimension. He is all about x-y-z coordinates and null gravity combat right now so math and literature are really syncing up nicely for him at the moment.

2 comments to ~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ null gravity

  • tim

    Ender’s Game! I’m…. a little shocked actually that I didn’t know that you were into it! I didn’t know the book existed until I stole my roommate Joy’s copy in El Cerrito (sorry Joy!) and now Natalie and I have purchased exactly all of Orson Scott Card’s books. Well, maybe not exactly, I can’t be sure. Your post makes me think Talan would love to read that now. He already picks up anything laying around, including stuff we haven’t read yet and so can’t really censor. I think he could handle xenocide, child labor and global warfare as topics now. My favorite part of the book is probably the null gravity game where Ender’s strategy is to send the whole team as a shield for one player to fly directly to the opponent’s goal.

    • Silly Timmy! I only know about Orson Scott Card because of you in the first place. I probably read Joy’s copy, the first time. I realize I have no memory of ever visiting you in El Cerrito, nor ever meeting Joy (sorry Joy!) A couple of years ago I listened to one of his really far out series on audio while I was doing some extremely tedious lab work… wowie, the homecoming saga is exactly what you’d think a “science-fiction adaptation of The Book of Mormon” would be… Your comment cheered me up this morning, when I got to your list of topics Talan can probably handle it really made me chuckle. Yeah I mean pondering the ethics of weaponizing children to commit xenocide is something I feel he can probably deal with at this point. Narf!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>