Tuesday, March 02, 2010

temporarily passing through the world of the gifted

Today I got behind the wheel for the first time since my surgery (watch out, Bay Area pedestrians, the Drunken Housewife is back on the road!) in order to take Iris uber Alles down the peninsula to do "fifth grade applicant activities" at the school for gifted children to which we are applying. I managed yesterday to cut my medications waaaay back, so I felt ready to drive (and indeed today I haven't had anything stronger than ibuprofen yet). The Sober Husband had made it clear he wasn't available for this driving, crystal clear, so it was up to me to get us across that last hurdle in our application process.

I'm not feeling very optimistic about this whole solving-the-children's-problems-by-getting-them-into-a-harder-school project of mine. At Lola's activity session, there were eighteen children present vying for a spot in the second grade, all proud possessors of IQ scores qualifying them as little geniuses... and there may or may not be one or two spots available. Sigh. Lola herself is not enthusiastic about this school, but Iris is madly in love with it. I tried to caution her today. "Iris, try not to get too attached. There's a lot of kids trying to get in and not many spaces. We can apply again next year if we don't get in."

At the school, I made the mistake of saying "after you're done with your testing." Iris interrupted me. "They're testing me? Testing? Two hours of testing? I thought it was problem solving."

"Problem solving, that's a euphemism for testing," I said. "It means testing." Iris was appalled.

"Maybe I should tell you what I told Lola. I told Lola, 'You're just going down to play some games.'" I laughed heartily, but Iris wasn't laughing.

While I was cynically trying to manage my gifted child's expectations, a British man, who drove a car which costs well over $100,000, was coaching his child up to the last minute. He had a manila folder in his hand, which seemed to contain strategies and tips for excelling at a gifted child's activities session. His son said gravely that in the past, he'd "only used five or six words in his answers" and that this time he would endeavor to use more words. I cheered myself up by noticing that this British man's extraordinarily expensive tie was soaked through at the bottom while the rest of his obviously extravagant clothes were bone-dry, as though he'd sloppily let it fall into a bowl of soup.

I noticed another boy had a name tag reading "Galileo." I pointed this out to Iris. "Oh my god, Iris, his parents are so hellbent on having a gifted child, they gave him the name of a genius. Imagine having to live up to that." Iris and I both found this highly amusing. This was really pretty rich hypocrisy on my part, given that I named my own child after Iris Murdoch, but still, the name "Galileo" strikes me as an unfair burden to impose upon a child.

There was a tea for the hopeful applicant parents while the gifted children were off doing their problems, but I skipped it, taking the advice I'd given Iris. I am so in love with this school and need to manage my own expectations, and I don't want to get any more attached.

Iris was fairly bubbly when I picked her up. She'd enjoyed the activities, which had been comprised of a group discussion, a game of figuring out a mystery object in a bag, and building things, as well as doing math problems. I was a bit dismayed that there hadn't been a creative writing section, as on Lola's visit she'd written a little booklet about herself (and Lola had been spitting mad that the school kept her booklet, since she'd wanted to keep it for herself). This set of activities did not give Iris a chance to display her sharp wit and strong writing skills, I fear.

In the parking lot another prospective parent rear-ended my car as he backed out of his parking space (my car was motionless throughout, as I was parked in a line of cars waiting our turn to get out of the little parking lot). This was particularly astounding, because he was driving a Prius, a car with an amazing little screen showing you a big, wide view of exactly what is behind you when you go into reverse. "Look at that, Iris," I said. "That man is a moron. Even here at the gifted school, there are morons."

"He's not gifted, though," observed Iris. "Just his kid is gifted." I supposed I could have said a lot of things in return to that, but I just drove back to the city.


Missy said...

Nothing sums up it up hetter than parents who would name a child "Galileo" and then apply to a private school for gifted children.

The whole thing reeks of a Far Side cartoon.

Good luck with all of this--(()) Missy

hughman said...

yes, it does all seem to have a "bonfire of the vanities" air about it. while i have no (human) child, it does make me recall when i took my last dog to a series of classes a famous LA dog trainer held (she was on Oprah which apparently meant she was blessed by god). the other dog owners were extremely hell-bent on proving their puppies were all the next lassie and several brought training books with them (?) and would read out loud TO THEIR DOGS before the class began. long story short, at graduation my dog got first place in the class because she had the best costume that day (which i'd made) not because she was the first to sit on command. so my point is there's always something they're looking for that you can't expect or plan. iris obviously brought a lot to the table which no folder or test is going to provide.

Oldsoul_NotQuite said...

Your operation has only sharpened your rapier like wit for social comedy. Your kids have a good genetic inheritance in that department.

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Anonymous said...

The school sounds wonderful and perfect for both children! But what if only one child gets in? You might consider going to the parent things just so the school knows you are involved in your child's education, and a "concerned" parent. Looks good and all.