In His Own Head – Postscript

Columbus Day is the most excellent of holidays. The kids go to school and Beth has it off. (It’s like Yom Kippur reversed in this respect.) So Monday morning after dropping June off at school, Beth and I headed to Savory for coffee and a half hour of uninterrupted conversation. More would have been nice, but there was an Open House at Noah’s school. This meant parents are welcome to drop in and watch their children’s classes in action. We went to his morning class since June’s home and napping during his afternoon class and we wanted to go together. He has Sr. S for math and science in the mornings. It was all in Spanish but Beth was able to follow along pretty well because so much of math and science vocabulary consists of English cognates. I whispered to fill her in when necessary.

The work is too easy for Noah; that much is clear. The entire morning’s math lesson consisted of material that he and many of his classmates have covered in previous years. At least the science is new. He’s never learned the parts of plants before. And we did witness some positive things about Sr. S’s teaching. He was very energetic and engaged as he explained the different kinds of angles. The kids seemed eager to answer his questions and at one point he had them all standing up to put their arms in obtuse, right and acute angles. (Noah was putting his legs in angles, too.) As the class discussed points, lines, line segments and rays, I watched Noah doodling in his notebook. If you couldn’t see what he was doing, it would look like he wasn’t paying attention, but he drew points while Sr. S explained points, and rays while he discussed rays. Later, though, I knew he really wasn’t paying attention, because when Sr. S said, if you’re listening raise your hand, hands shot up all over the classroom, but Noah’s remained at his sides.

Then they brainstormed geometry terms. (Noah chose a rather esoteric shape—the octagonal prism—it’s like a cylinder with octagons instead of circles on the ends. Sr. S looked surprised, but wrote it on the board with the rest.) Then there was a geometry pre-test, which would not be graded, Sr. S keep assuring them. It took Noah a long while to get started coloring the shapes blue or yellow based on the types of angles, but once he buckled down he finished quickly. Next they got the plants they are raising out from under the grow lights and made observations about them, while Sr. S went over the parts of a flower. Beth noted that all the kids’ plants had sticks with their names written on them, but Noah’s did not. He suddenly noticed the same thing. “Hey, where did you get that stick?” he asked one of his classmates. Later, Noah got his science book out of his desk while Sr. S was talking about plants. Was he checking something Sr. S was talking about or off on a tangent? It was impossible to tell. Toward the end of class, Noah slumped over his desk, looking unresponsive.

Finally, Sr. S called Noah up to the front of the room to recite the poem the class has been working on. He was picked because of the two kids who’d volunteered before the parents arrived, he knew it the best. I was nervous as he started because even with a week of practice he had never recited it perfectly, but I didn’t need to be. He nailed it, needing only a small prompt in the last stanza. I was very proud, muy orgullosa, I told him later.

I think it was a good snapshot of Noah’s day. There were times his head seemed to be in the clouds, but when it really mattered, his feet were firmly on the ground.

This story would not be complete, however, without noting that later in the day, as he left his afternoon class he forgot his backpack, went back for it and missed the bus. Beth went out to the bus stop right after our perfectly timed holiday afternoon DVD finished and he wasn’t there. The school called moments later and she had to drive over to the school to retrieve him.