Monday, April 13, 2009

state of the State Report

I hate fifth grade. I hated it when I was in fifth grade, during which time Mrs. Grant made my life perfectly miserable with her "waterfall r's" that I simply could not replicate, causing me to spend the entire nine months I was entrusted into her evil care to be called "Lou". "LOU?" she'd query, as she peered around the room with one paper left in her decaying clutches, "I didn't know we had a LOU in class!!!" Leaving me no choice but to make the slinking walk of shame to the front of the classroom to retrieve my paper, to the snickers of the rest of the class. (Oh, and did I mention that I was also the NEW KID, making this insult the one-two punch of "youaresonotcool"). This transpired daily, to the point that I considered changing my name to "Lou." Unfortunately, I didn't take to the name and so I just became "thatnewgirlthathasbadhandwriting." There's a moniker you want.

So I have no good memories of fifth grade. I have no good memories of Katie's fifth grade, either. She had the most miserable year, mostly at the hands of another young lady who was quite a bit more clever and absolutely masterful at starting things and not getting caught. 

And now my son also is having a lousy fifth grade. Is it just fifth grade? Or is it being 11-going-on-40? Is it my bad handwriting gene? Or my "I don't have any patience for stupid" gene? Or are all of us doomed to have the teacher from hell in fifth grade. For my son, hell is called "the State Report." His personal Hell? Virginia. 

For most of us, Virginia is a lovely and attractive state, filled with trees, birds, picturesque Williamsburg, historic Jamestown, a cool Spring Break locale and all sorts of rolling landscape. For my son, Virginia is an Epic Fail, filled with geography, climate, history, famous people, and something else but he can't put his finger on it because he can't find his notecards. In addition to a multi-page report, he has to make a poster, a float and something else (he can't remember, he can't find his notecards). And, having read through his report, he is doomed to a fate worse than Mrs. Grant. He leads off his geography page with: "Virginia is a small state that has a lot of geography." I couldn't really read past this; I was stopped cold on so many levels.

So tonight, the night before the rough draft is due, he brings his pages to me to edit. Eleven in all. Eleven filled with sentences like "Virginia is a small state that has a lot of geography." And I am trying to decide: Do I help him fix this and dive into it or let him learn a lesson about not waiting to the last minute? I'm thinking...mostly about Mrs. Grant....

Hey, Mrs. Grant! My lack of ability with waterfall r's has not deterred my ability as a human being nor has it prevented me from promotion in my career. Imagine that!!!

Now I have to go figure out what "Virginia has a lot of geography" really means...

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