The boy turned 11 last week. Tomorrow he goes back to school to finish the second half of fifth grade. Looked at me this afternoon and told me that I don’t understand the kind of pressure he is under and yelled at me when I smiled at him.
I poked him in the ribs and told him that he can’t yell at me. When he asked why I started to tickle him and then the two of us rolled around on the floor until he pinned me.
Or should I say until he thought he pinned me. I won’t give you the play-by-play because it is not interesting but the point and purpose of why we wrestled are important so take notes.
I know my son and I knew that he was upset about school. I also knew that talking about it wasn’t going to solve the problem because he wasn’t in a place where he would hear me. He wanted a hug desperately but the kid is getting to that place where he doesn’t know how to be cool if dad hugs him.
So we wrestle. I hug him butÂ camouflageÂ it by teasing him just a bit and life moves on.
He is working on a majorÂ genealogyÂ project which is part of why he is a bit freaked out about school. Winter break is almost over and it is time to get back to the grind.
After our wrestling match I sat him down and told him that it was time to interview me. It is part of the project but it technically it is not due for a week or so but there is no reason not to try and get ahead.
It was a simple interview of about seven questions that covered my life as a fifth grader. We talked about my favorite school subject, food, where I lived and what I liked to do.
But we didn’t talk about how I had two teachers that year. Didn’t discuss how Mrs. S. was the toughest teacher I had ever had and how I felt like I had too much work. Didn’t talk about how she piled it on and how I heard parents talking about how happy they were that she was pushing us.
Nor did we talk about she left after the Fall semester and was replaced by Mr. A. Didn’t talk about how he had no control of my class at all. He would show slides and Super 8 footage of his time in Vietnam. When he wasn’t doing that we were climbing in and out of the windows and raising hell.
That is not an exaggeration. In fact I remember crying to my parents that sixth grade math was hard because he didn’t teach us anything. Got to thank my parents for telling me that it didn’t matter whether he did or didn’t because the work still had to get done.
Middle school is just around the corner and he is freaked out about it. Technically his current school goes all the way through sixth grade so if I can find a couple of shekels I can keep him there another year. He really wants to finish what he started and I’d like for him too.
The thing is that private school isn’t cheap and I don’t know what location I’ll be working from so there are more than a few factors to consider. And those things don’t address the question of whether it is better to make the change in sixth grade because it is sort of a “natural” transition.
I remember sixth grade for many reasons, including the fact that I was forced to switch schools and didn’t get to finish what I started. I remember standing in the schoolyard listening to them tell us about Reagan getting shot and wondering if the world was going to end.
First my folks made me switch schools and then the president got shot. Remember this wasn’t long after the Hostage crisis, the end of Vietnam and Watergate. All these things were talked about and more than a few people said that Reagan would bomb those commies in Russia.
It wasn’t what I heard at home, but the schoolyard is a great place for learning things. That was where I found out that Shelly Sue had been doing more than kissing with Robert Harold, although just what that meant was never clear to me.
Well, it is obvious that the world didn’t end when I was in 5th grade and I don’t think that my son will see the sun set for the last time either. But I can see why he might be feeling a little pressure. And now if you will excuse me I think that I need to go challenge him to another wrestling match.