Status Report: Moose

Perusing the last week of posts, I see the need to update the blogosphere on each member of The Testosterone Zone. Just to mix things up a bit, I’ll start with the youngest member of the household. Youngest human, that is.

Moose is now 11.5 years old and is in the 6th Grade at Zone Middle School. He finished up elementary school at the Snooty School last spring, and as I learned over the course of the summer, he is glad to be rid of that place. Although I had my doubts about moving my youngest and brightest child from private to public school, I credit the principal and administrators of Zone MS for making Moose’s transition smooth and keeping him challenged this year.

Moose is quite the advanced math student. Last year in grade 5, he was enrolled in 6th grade advanced math and earned perfect scores all year. Moose was the first lower school student ever to win a math award, Florida Math League, in Snooty’s Middle School. Because Snooty’s math curriculum is a year ahead of public school, Moose would have been ready to enter 8th grade math this year. Until this year, Zone County did not permit middle school underclassmen to take Algebra I, which is a high school course. Parents brought pressure to bear on the county and the state, and Zone County changed its rules to allow 7th graders to take Algebra I. Zone MS’s principal plainly told me that, academically, she didn’t see a difference between 7th and 6th graders and would allow Moose to take Algebra I as long as he passed the test. Last spring, on the day we enrolled Moose in public school, Moose took the Algebra I entrance exam. He finished it in half the time allowed and passed with a perfect score. Moose is now enrolled in Algebra I and earned a 95% A for the first quarter. Math Star!!

Since both Wizard and Wild Thing attended Zone MS, we were familiar with the team of teachers for 6th grade. Because Moose, like his brothers, has a Gifted EP (educational plan), he would be placed with gifted certified teachers. I hand-picked his Language Arts and History teachers; they  are creative, zany, intelligent women who challenge their classes in myriad ways daily. Moose loves them, and he earned As in their classes for the first quarter, too. Moose’s science teacher continues to inspire his love for that subject; he got an A in that class, too. The last “real” class Moose has is Beginning Band with an instructor who’s just the tiniest bit arrogant. The band teacher likes Moose and appreciates his ability to play the saxophone somewhere just past beginner level; chalk up another A for Band.

Moose’s last class is technically a study hall:  he is enrolled in Spanish I in Florida Virtual School. Once again, Zone County is way behind the times in that foreign language study begins in 8th grade. Moose had Spanish instruction from Pre-K through 5th Grade, and I wasn’t going to let his language skills lie fallow for 2 years because of some arbitrary rule. And, I wasn’t going to subject him to Zone MS’s crappy Spanish teacher, who ruined foreign language learning for my older boys. Last spring, I appealed to the principal, and she said she would open a class period in Moose’s schedule if I wanted to enroll Moose in Spanish I online. Moose enrolled in Spanish I and completed one semester’s worth of work in a little more than one quarter. His grade? A 95% A. ¡Muy bueno, Moose! That made straight As for Moose’s first quarter in public middle school. WineGuy and I are very proud of that boy.

How does a parent reward great grades — dinner out? money? Moose wanted a small gift. In the last year, This is what the cube looks like unsolved. It's beastly.Moose has really gotten into cubing. His 5th grade teacher taught him how to solve a basic Rubik’s cube. Since then, Moose has taught himself to solve 4×4 and 5×5 cubes and mind-bending monsters like a Megaminx (dodecahedron) and a YJ Axis Cube. We got him that YJ cube for all those As. I cannot imagine what cube formation Moose will tackle next.

Lest you think Moose’s world is all sunshine and light, let me share some of his struggles. He has terribly flat feet, and athletics are no longer enjoyable for him. As much as we wanted Moose to play basketball, because he’s so tall and strong, he just isn’t interested anymore; his feet always hurt him. Moose’s build would lend itself perfectly to playing football, but he doesn’t like football. This Jewish Mother does not want her sons playing football either. Moose did say he will try putting shot and/or throwing discus with the middle school track and field team in the spring. Instead of sports, Moose has joined the school’s Scholar Bowl and Academic World Quest Teams. Because he’s  a voracious reader, like Wizard, Moose has knowledge in many areas; this talent is useful for both academic and geographic-type competitions. Wizard and WT competed on the middle school’s World Quest team. Moose also attends Hebrew School two days a week and will become a Bar Mitzvah in early 2015. We expect he will start his studies next summer.

The real dark side is the stress Moose feels living with Wizard, who continues to be violent and aggressive. More on Wizard’s dark saga in another post. Suffice it to say, our home environment got so toxic that Moose and Wild Thing opted to have counseling last spring. While life at home has hardly improved, Moose’s coping skills are much better, although less interaction with Wizard would be best. Moose is also very scared about what is going on with WineGuy and justifiably so. I make a special effort to spend time alone with Moose so he can ask questions and I can explain what’s happening. Regrettably, the worst is yet to come, and I fear for Moose’s emotional health. Right now, I am doing my level best to assure him that the family will stay in tact and in the home when WG and I have to go out of town for WG’s treatment.

My baby is still the sweetheart he always was. Still wants hugs and to give hugs. Still loves to laugh and make clever jokes. Still loves to learn and challenge himself. I hope and pray that the hell of living with Wizard and an ill parent don’t damage the kid permanently.

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