More work, work, work tonight. Right after getting home, I got Gabriel to sit in the kitchen with me and...
....wait, I must acknowledge how difficult this task by itself is. Walking in the door, Gabriel launches into uber-hyper mode: swinging his knapsack around, antagonizing Julian, pestering Katrina, laughing uncontrollably, running like crazy and basically being impossible. I give him transition time, but getting him to calm down is very, very challenging. This child is all about inert states.
But I succeeded, and we talked about the most important part of his book report: the "I think" section, in which he writes a paragraph on what he thinks about the book. We didn't write it, we just talked about it and I had him take notes. It was difficult to talk -- I was unpacking lunches, starting dinner, helping Julian with homework in a different room, and trying to keep Katrina out of the way.
But I was very pleased when he easily rattled off the point of the story ("Puss In Boots") on his own. His drawings may look amateurish and very basic -- no color even -- but I'll be able to say honestly that he did his best on this report and that he really knows the story. I'm fighting an urge to tell his teachers how hard he's worked, as that's too helicopter-parent-y for me, but I feel the temptation.
When I picked up the boys at the CDC today, Gabriel was sitting on a couch with three other boys, all of whom are 2nd-graders, and whose parents were likely raised and educated in India (not completely certain, but a safe assumption given their names and moderate accents). I asked what they thought of the book report (a grade-wide assignment), and they all chimed, "I'm DONE!" I asked what they thought about the drawings, and one boy smiled and said, "My Mom did them for me."
Parth's very sweet mom told me she and Parth (a kindergarten classmate of Gabriel's and his best pal at the CDC and a terrific kid) worked all weekend -- and she insisted he do it all himself -- and she's very relieved it's done. Her eyes widened too at the effort.
I'm perversely happy that the Indian moms gripe just as much as I do about the work (if you detect an inferiority complex, you're correct; it hearkens back to being an inferior student at a superior high school), though I think they're less likely to push back at the school about it. I plan on griping to the teachers about the excessive drawing -- a very, very time-consuming task for kids who aren't so inclined, and one that adds little to the purpose of a book report. Some drawing, sure, but not as a central component. Drawings are a great way for drawing-ers to earn a extra credit if they want, but a tough way for non-drawing-ers to meet the bare minimum.
(As I type, he's supposed to be working on another drawing. It takes him a while to get started....right now he's staring at the paper, repeating robotically, "COLD butt. COOOLD fart. BUTTTT. FAAA-AART." Just in case anyone was wondering about the poignant ponderings of a child.)
And then tonight, we did the final run-through for Gabriel's Star Of The Week presentation. Nice thing about being 7: no self-consciousness. If the itch strikes, no matter where it is, you scratch it. At some point, boys learn boundaries. Meantime, Moms crack up and try not to coach, "Umm, sweetie pie, speak up -- and don't scratch your balls."