Monday, April 30, 2007


My mother has a story that she likes to tell about me - a story that illustrates the challenges that she faced with me. Once, for some transgression long forgotten, my mother sent me to my room. I responded, "Fine! I like my room!" She upped the ante by stating that I couldn't play with any toys. "Fine! I'll read a book!" Mom, hanging on to the very end of her rope, screeched back that I was to sit in the middle of my bed and do absolutely nothing. I clenched my teeth and hissed at her, "Fine. I'll just sit on my bed and think. It will be fun." There are other stories about me: The Great Hot Dog War, The Cold Water Dish Discussion that Never Ever Ever Ended, The PSAT Screamfest. But the Sit and Think story is generally the first one offered as an explanation of just what it was like to parent a kid like me. Now, I'm lucky enough to have a kid like me. My mother must have said, "I pray that you have a kid just like you!" enough times that God granted her wish, if only to stop the incessant bleating of her prayer. Of course, Jacob isn't just exactly like me. He's an individual all unto himself. But he is enough like me that I feel both blessed and challenged. A few years with Jake under my belt has given me a complete understanding of why my mother tells that story. Once, a preschool teacher said of Jacob, "He'll either be a leader or a ring-leader." That is the most accurate description of Jake that I have ever heard or given. He is charismatic, he is charming, he is cocky and cunning. He has POTENTIAL written in ten story tall upper case neon letters with a flashing red border. He also has the propensity for skating along the edge of acceptable behavior. As a parent, I watch him grow with an uncomfortable mix of emotions ranging from unadulterated hope to ohmygoodnesswhatthefuckamIgoingtodowithim all at one time. And while I understand Jake, having the benefit of my own experience as a spirited person, I still have no idea what to do sometimes. I understand what he's doing. I understand why he is doing it. And I have a disconcerting lack of ability to actually change anything or put him on a safer path. Tomorrow, Nick and I have a meeting with Jake's teacher and the school counselor. They have "concerns" according to the note. I have been twisting and turning over this meeting for over a week now. I'm sure that it will be the first of many such meetings over the course of Jacob's academic career. My fear is that Jake will be labeled and stereotyped, pigeoned firmly into the problem hole and never permitted to escape the assumptions that follow. My hope is that these women see a gifted child who is a little bit immature and that maybe, just maybe, they have a better idea about how to help him grow up to be a leader instead of a ring-leader.

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