It's been a bit of a hiatus, one not deliberately planned--certainly if I had planned it I would have left a less humiliating entry at the top of the page--but after a period of time the interntia became sticky, and for that prolonged silence, I apologize. Obviously plenty has happened in these past few months (see: the entire holiday season Halloween through New Year's--HAPPY EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE), but as for the highlights, allow me to present them in triptych.
Mack turned three about a week ago, and although I could go into the same hackneyed parental lament about how it seems like he was just born yesterday, how I remember when he was just a wee infant and look at him now--in other, more concrete ways, it is utterly plausible that three years has gone by. I got pregnant with Mack at the end of my residency, and he was born about five months after we moved to Atlanta. Three years ago? Seems about right.
But don't let me hog all the commentary, marvel yourself at how three years can somehow transform this:
...into something as adorably wacky as this (and please excuse the background shambles that is our home office, a.k.a. the room where all the world's paperwork and power cords go to die):
I love you, little man.
For a couple of months now, Cal's teacher has been floating the idea that we might want to consider skipping Cal ahead into third grade for the next school year. It's not something Joe and I have pushed (or indeed, even brought up initially) because the memory of this is still pretty fresh in our minds, but after Cal's teacher brought it up the third or fourth time, Joe and I are starting to realize that we might have to make a decision one way or the other.
The main sticking point is this: if academics was the only thing we cared about, yes, absolutely, we would be for skipping Cal a year ahead. School is too easy for him, and he's getting bored. However (and this is a relatively big however), Cal has a couple of problems that don't necessarily translate into academic achievement, though it can (and may) color his experience at school. The main issue in our mind is that Cal is already young for his grade. His birthday is at the end of July, which usually makes him one of the youngest kids in his grade, and in this era of red-shirting kids in kindergarten, he's already up to a year younger than some of the kids in his own class, even before shuffling around. Now, this may or may not be a big deal (I myself was skipped ahead a year in school so I at least have some personal perspective--and my birthday is at the end of June) but I also have to take into account that I was a small Chinese girl going to school in Manhattan, in settings where (and excuse me for generalizing) issues of physicality or athleticism or physical development were not a real big issue, at least not that I could perceive.
However, Cal will be a small-ish boy growing up in Georgia, where, insofar as I can ascertain from my proximity (if not direct involvement) in youth culture, physicality is kind of a big deal. Everyone talks about football. Everyone plays sports. I see some of the kids in Cal's class now, and lord, they are massive. They are good kids, I have not seen or heard any word of bullying or rough-housing or even so much as a double-dog-dare, but remember, this is just first grade--these things may change. And to say nothing about the cesspool that is middle school, what with puberty and hormones all coming into play. Do I want to put Cal in a situation where he's ten years old and in a locker room full of classmates flaunting their fistfuls of chest hair? Is it going to matter? Like I said, maybe it doesn't, and I'd reiterate that I skipped a year and had a perfectly well-adjusted and un-traumatic adolescence--that said, I went to a very academically-oriented high school so it's possible that such things didn't matter as much there as they might in the real world.
But. Cal is bored, and I think we're beginning to see it. In some ways, I guess he kind of likes that school is so easy--all the less effort to expend, my dear--but is this how I want him to grow up, floating along with minimal effort because he knows he doesn't have to do anything more to do "well"? (However, Joe would like me to point out that, indeed, this is just how he went through life basically up until grad school, and LO, LOOK AT HIM NOW. Both sides of the coin, we are.) It's beginning to show in Cal's motivation at school. He just isn't interested in doing things. He'll do the work that is put in front of him, of course, but in the past few months, his participation has taken a subtle turn from compliant to grudging. Is it just because he's bored? Is it a developmental thing? Is he just (and I would be perfectly happy if this were the reason, honestly--Cal's never been known for his extroversion) starting to have more fun with his friends and starting to act more like a goof-off first-grade boy? Would stepping up his curriculum even affect this? I don't know.
Which brings up the broader issue: what is our goal here? What do we want for Cal? What's going to help him succeed the best? Our goal has never been to hustle Cal through school as quick as possible (in fact, now that we're in public school, the idea of giving up a whole year of not paying tuition smarts quite a bit, though less than the idea of MY BABY ultimately leaving us to go to college a year earlier than we anticipated) but given that this option is being presented to us by Cal's own teacher makes us wonder if, for all our hand-wringing, we're holding him back. But what makes someone successful in life ultimately? Having a good experience in school certainly helps, but what defines that good experience? Finding and being pushed to your limits academically? (Not that we think third grade math is "the limit," of course, but certainly having to use a few more neurons isn't a bad thing.) Or having the space and room to grow socially without the stressors of being smaller and slower and younger than everyone else? What is our goal? What's going to be best for Cal? Or, at least, less worse?
Well, in the event that we screw up those first two kids, at least now we know that we'll have an extra in reserve. And if I may observe (despite the blurriness of this photo, which was taken with my cell phone camera because our scanner isn't working for some reason), real-time 3D ultrasound technology really is amazing.
(Coming July 2012. Check local listings for details.)
Thanks for sticking around, everyone. It's good to be back.