Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Result! (Or Two?)

Son took his music exams two weeks before the end of term and we wondered how he'd done. He was keen to find out because a certain colourful construction toy is at stake.

Some time in May, desperate at his reluctance to practise, we made him sign a contract to the effect that a Merit in both exams would be rewarded by such-and-such, and in the unlikely event of a distinction, then it's something else, etc.

We tracked down Mr G, piano teacher, who somehow managed to get at his results and told us in no uncertain terms that he managed a 124, a Merit in piano grade 3. He (Mr G) was going to celebrate with a large whisky.

Son saw the email and his face went, "O! I didn't get a distinction," and so that particular PSP game is out of the question (or is it?).

We were going, "You've done well! Another Merit!"

He is pleased actually that he did get a Merit because at one point we thought he would only just managed a Pass. What is more important is that he seems to -- finally -- see the correlation between practice (to a certain extent) and performance.

What about the clarinet result? Mr G wouldn't tell us because he's not the clarinet teacher nor the Head of Music at son's school. But he did say, "Sounds like another large whisky is on the horizon!!!"

If it's the same size "large", then we think he means he's got a Merit in clarinet, too.

Not a bad result for the sheer amount of practice a certain young man DID NOT put in, and within such a short preparation period.

Well done, son!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Joke © 2008 LT

Son was rattling on his calculator. He has learned (from me) how to make words with the calculator upside down. For example, when you look at 0.7734 upside down it appears as "hELL.O".

He experimented and came up with 0.773450 which reads -------.

Then he did some mental 'reverse engineering' and came up with the question:

What is a limpet's favourite Shakespeare play?

Answer: oSHELLo!

inspired by the OShELL.O that 0.773450 looks like upside down.

Not bad for an eight-year-old, I would say.

You saw it here first.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Going omph-pa-pa

While watching a news report on more knife killings in London I went, "Where are the parents of these young people carrying knives? Don't their parents care?"

I went on to say, "I know where they are. They are probably down in a pub somewhere."

To this my son chipped in, "Yeah! and singing omph-pa-pa."

He had just done Oliver! at school, right, and there is this scene in a pub where Nancy sings "Omph-pa-pa" to distract Bill Sykes so that Oliver could escape. So now son thinks that when grown men go to the pub, they sing "Omph-pa-pa".

Or does he?

Maybe it is just his way of saying how people enjoy themselves, forget themselves, in a pub. Who knows?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is doing one's best ever good enough?

I had just dropped off the letter to the sports master.

After some careful consideration I decided that it was unfair that:
  1. son was not given even a certificate in his team event when certificates and medals were awarded for all other individual events
  2. up to five boys in the other Form I class who didn't make grades A & B were given "good work" and "effort" certificates at Final Assembly

Altogether eight out of the eleven boys (73%) in that class were given some kind of award.

In my son's class four who didn't made the A and B grades were also awarded certificates for "good work" or "effort". In total, eight boys out of a class of 14 (57%) were given an award.

This is great for the boys who are not academically gifted, but boys who are not gifted on the sports field are not similarly given certificates to encourage them at all.

There are a few boys in the 11-boy class who are clearly gifted in sports. There is a boy who wins all the races, sets all the records (very probably including the one with the false start) and sometimes I hear my son go, "Who cares? J--- will win all the prizes."

Now when a child says, "Who cares? So-and-so will be top of the class no matter how hard I try," a sensible mother would not go, "Yeah, why bother?"

Sensible mothers say, "That may be the case, but it does not stop you from trying your best, better your own record."

It's really great that the school awards boys for "effort" for work in class. What about awarding boys for "effort" in sports.

When I revisited the situation I realized that my son keeps coming in fourth to sixth. He was welly-wanging really well, for example. A big cheer went up after his first throw. He was the best in his class of 14. Then boys from the other class started throwing and he was edged into fourth. After fouling one throw (strong wind, good distance but just out of the V), he was edged further down into sixth.

It was the same with long jump. He was doing quite well because he is a natural jumper and they had absolutely no training and were allowed one practice jump before the whole event. The teacher in charge was saying that they might need a jump-off between my son and someone else to decide on a medal position.

Then a couple of boys came over from their javelin throw. Some boys whose names were not even on the list decided that they would also have a go at long jump, and my son was edged out ... again. I was furious, but kept my cool.

I guess I am just a pushy mother, but it is hard to see one's child trying so hard at something he is not naturally gifted in, and not be rewarded at all. I am tired at seeing tears and disappointment as sometimes the goal-posts are moved and I have used up all ideas to persuade him that it is still worth his trying his best.

So I have suggested to the teacher that perhaps boys should be given encouragement and public acknowledgement that they have achieved personal targets and vast improvements in certain events. Personal bests are to be celebrated as well, not just coming in first, second and third.

With three boys in the other class and one in my son's class who are superb athletes, the other boys in the Form do not stand a chance. But the last thing we want is for them to give up and say, "Why bother?"

No use having a clever mind when we do not have a strong body. So I hope the sports master would consider seriously my suggestion.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A mother's worry

Another extremely busy week.

Monday: a concert to which parents were not invited, but son performed with the Wind Band.

Tuesday: Sports Day. Started off well. Son kept coming in fourth, so no certificates for him, but points for his House. Very frustrating. But he somehow sprinted his heart out and came in third in his House sprint and was selected to go into the sprint relay team. A real achievement.

They won that event but somehow they were not given a medal and he was not even given a certificate. Very odd.

Then the 200m individual. He had been practising in his group C or D relays. But because of his excellent performance in the earlier sprint, got put into the strongest group with the top runners. The eventual winner also managed a false start but the starter did not see this.

Son saw the false start and hesitated expecting a recall which never came and eventually ran, some two seconds later, and managed to come in second to last.

He was not a happy bunny. He has to learn to play to the whistle -- or whatever phrase it should be. I felt very embarrassed by his tears. He felt it was not fair. We knew it was not fair. A good few parents saw the false start but none spoke up, except me, because their sons were not in that race. Those whose sons won -- despite their false starts -- also did not own up to it.

Well, such is life.

Wednesday: Things quietened down a bit. I was so upset with his behaviour at Sports Day I was up in the middle of the night (from hay fever, actually) and wrote him a long letter, noting how he does not seem to be aware of other people's feelings, including my own, that he does not see the positive and dwell only on the negative, that we have to stop excusing him by saying he is only eight, because the other eight-year-olds did not behave like him. He read the letter with great solemnity at breakfast.

On the whole, a much better day, because he did try to look at the positives today. What a glorious change. And how much nicer.

Thursday: School Speech Day -- one of my few opportunties to dress up. Weather was perfect. Son won the Class Prize. And we saw that he also won a music certificate, which was to be handed out on ...

Friday: Leavers service at the school chapel followed by Final Assembly. Loads of certificates to hand out. Son's House won the Sports section and were all-round winners this year, much to their delight. But, as I pointed out, he was given nothing for coming in first in the team relay. I shall have to speak to the Sports teacher about this.

Grade card came back. He did excellently. A1s in English, Maths, Science, French, Geography and Music, and A2s in Technology, History and Art, and a C2 in Religious Studies which he decided was not religious enough ("It's history!"). He was thrilled that he had managed to get an A1 in English, a personal goal. Now to convert A2s to A1s and get rid of that C2 in Religious Studies ....

Cubs in the evening and he came home with SIX new badges (four music, one swimming and one IT) which kept me busy this afternoon.

Saturday: Dad at work all day and we had lots of essential shopping to do.

Sunday: church and joint birthday party in the afternoon.

What has been weighing really heavy on my mind is the murder of the two French exchange students in London earlier this week. I cannot comprehend how any one could perpetrate such a crime. I cannot imagine how their mothers could come to terms with the way their promising sons -- prospective Nobel Prize winners for all we know -- died.

I fear for my son. What a future. To grow up in an era where lives could be snuffed out just like that, probably not for anything more than a few quid so that the perpetrator of the crime could get his next fix.

This is a very, very sad world.

What does a mother do? What can a mother do? I can only pray. Pray for God's protection. Pray that God, in his mercy, would allow my son's gifts to come to fruition that others might benefit from it. And pray that God's Name be praised. And pray for the mothers of those two young men.