Suburban Snapshots


Monday, November 22, 2010

When I was in the second grade, my teacher asked the class to name an object matching each color on a handout list (Remember dittos? Will our kids even know what that word means?) I decided to write a poem, it started like this:

Red is a heart all covered with lace
Blue is the eye on a baby's face
Yellow's the flower I picked for Mom
Brown is the suit Mom bought for Tom

I was labeled "advanced." That was the beginning of my long, on again, off again relationship with the Gifted and Talented program.

In third grade I scored high on the reading portion of a placement test. I was promptly assigned the Abracadatlas, a fifth-grade book approximately two-thirds of my body weight and half my height, plus its accompanying workbook. I was the only advanced reader in class, so when we'd go over homework assignments, I'd sit quietly and wait until the rest of the students had bonded over what I was sure had been way better homework than I had, then Mrs. Stavrides and I would run through my work one on one. My place in public school social rankings was pretty much sealed (spoiler: cooties.)

By fifth grade, though my mom was still waking up at 6 a.m. to help me finish assignments for my Greek mythology class (the Persephone project my mom did for me was particularly awesome, and most likely the only thing I ever turned in on time), I was expected to learn the Japanese language and alphabet and understand why a seemingly empty cup wasn't actually empty at all (hint: O2).

My family moved a few times, and each time I'd change districts I'd slip myself back into the normal class. Quickly, somehow, I'd score my way back up into the advanced track. I rarely studied, but I aced quizzes. I perpetually "forgot" my homework. I. Hated. Reading. In eighth grade, I didn't go to my first-period history class for an entire quarter and still kept a B average.

But there was no middle, I'd either land a-pluses without any effort in the regular courses, or below average in my honors level classes. My report cards constantly read, "Smart, but needs more effort." and also, "D."

Anna seems like a smart kid, I hope she doesn't have a brain that shuts down at the mention of long division or literary analysis like mine does. I'll help her with her homework, wake up at 5:30 to type up (and email? print?) her book reports if she needs me to, let her take the occasional sick day if she's unprepared for a big test. But if she ends up being recruited into the Gifted and Talented program, Steve's going to have to step in.

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