[Apologies for this cross-post from the August96 list.]
Wizard turned 12 on June 22. If he continues acting the way he has been, he may never see 13 or his Bar Mitzvah. That’s right, Mr. Wizard will be Bar Mitzvahed on August 15, 2009. Anyone interested in making the trip to The Zone then should let me know.
It’s hard to believe that the August96 kids are officially pre-teens. It’s also hard to believe that Wizard, although the oldest now on the list, was not even the first to be born. The first was a little girl born to a woman who was a grad student at the University of Washington. I remember that the baby had significant deficits due to her prematurity. Other than his “maturity,” I can’t say that Wizard has any deficits now. 😉
Some stats on the boy: Wizard stands 5’7″ tall — officially taller than I — and weighs about 160 pounds. I’m still heavier than he is, but he is stronger than I am. Wizard wears a 12.5EEEE men’s shoe. Wizard still wears glasses, and his eyes are getting progressively more near-sighted because he reads so much.
Wizard is a voracious reader. Like us, he reads two newspapers daily and several national news magazines weekly. He likes The New Yorker, too. Wizard is becoming the political hound his father is, and Wizard has no qualms engaging *anyone* in a discussion about the current election, including our right-wing neighbors. If ever a child were suited to the debate team or forensics, Wizard is he. Wizard is the general knowledge/trivia buff that I am. He was selected to compete on his middle school’s Scholar Bowl team next year, and he is excited about that. WG is teaching Wizard to do Sudoku; Wizard likes it some, although he loves puzzles. Although he didn’t say much about it, Wizard had a great time with the treasure hunt for his birthday present.
Other things that appeal to Wizard these days are lacrosse and computers, although not necessarily in that order. At our prompting — and because he wasn’t interested in any other sport — Wizard started playing lacrosse in the county league about a year ago. His height makes him a natural for the sport, although he needs to work on his speed and agility. Frankly, he thinks he’s a better player than he is. His coaches say he is willing to learn and take direction. From them, of course. Anyone who has been reading my blog knows about Wizard’s latest computer machinations. To appease him somewhat, we’ve sent him to a one-week computer camp this week to learn video game design. We also gave him an iPod Nano for his birthday — sent him on a treasure hunt to find it. When he returns from camp I suspect Wizard will be obsessed with loading music, videos, and games on to his iPod, to our great distraction. I hope Wizard will take care of his mp3 player better than he does his room, his books, his clothes, and his studies.
Wizard’s room is perpetually messy. Clean and dirty clothes are on the floor. So is he many nights. Wizard has been doing his own laundry for about a year, although he still does not understand the concept of washing weekly so the smelly mountain of clothes does not pollute the second floor of the house. Wizard routinely loses library books and mistreats his own books. He swipes his brothers’ books to read all the time.
Academically, Wizard’s performance was poor this year. WineGuy calculated Wizard’s GPA for the year. It was a disappointing 2.6/4.0. Wizard’s grades progressively got worse throughout the school year. He would sometimes do the work but not turn it in. He would turn in incomplete or shoddy work. Wizard turned in many assignments late and never complied with writing them all down in his planner and double-checking them nightly. Wizard, who always assumes he knows more than everyone else and doesn’t have to study, finally got his academic come-uppance this year: Wizard’s teachers refused to promote him to 7th Grade Honors English and Math because of his generally poor effort in 6th Grade. His teachers uniformly agreed that he was one of the brightest students they’ve ever had but the most defiant. WG and I wash our hands of the situation. Wizard knows about his placement for next year. He will have to work hard to **earn** his way back into Honors English and Math in 7th Grade.
BUT when Wizard is not being defiant, emotional, aggressive, combative, manipulative, dishonest, and ugly — apparently normal 12-year-old boy behavior — he is still a wonderful kid. Wizard can be nice, polite, helpful, respectful, and cooperative when he wants to (or wants something). Wizard does a lot to help his brothers with their schoolwork or clean up their stuff. He helps prepare meals and clean up afterwards. He is worldly and has a huge thirst for knowledge. He has terrific insight and can produce great work when he wants to. Wizard has recently shown an altruism and work ethic I didn’t think he had. Before school ended, Wizard agreed to volunteer at the school’s summer institute for underprivileged children. Wizard wanted to forego this for working in WG’s office and earning money. I insisted Wizard honor his commitment, and he was glad he did. Wizard found it very rewarding working with and teaching the little kids. It really made him feel good about himself. I was proud to hear him talk of all the ways he helped those kids. I was also proud to hear from WG’s office manager how well Wizard worked in his dad’s office. Wizard mastered his job responsibilities quickly, worked well with the entire office staff, and was polite to everyone. Of course, getting the paycheck was great motivation and a great learning tool, too: using the time-clock, figuring out taxes, allotting money to save, spend, and give to charity. All good lessons. By the way, Florida child labor laws allow a child to work for a parent, for pay, as long as it’s not during regular school hours.
WG and I are learning, the hard way, how to parent boys. I can clearly see where we (I) have made mistakes and how we need to allow Wizard to be more responsible for himself. These days we have as many “ugly” days as good ones, but I understand that’s the way it is with pre-teens and boys. Maybe by the time Moose is 12, WG and I will get it right! In the meantime, we are proud to be raising the bright, curious, challenging boy that is Wizard.