Monday, September 30, 2013

Camp Papa

This week is Fall Break for Little Dude. He has an entire week off!!!

We had plans to take a mini-vacation, but that fell through. Then my parents had a brilliant plan... they would take Little Dude camping!


My dad wants to teach Little Dude how to fish. It's really important for granddads to teach the younger generations important skills like camping, fishing, catching bugs, farting when someone pulls your finger, setting things on fire, and napping. All valuable lessons for a growing boy.

My husband has been teaching Little Dude his own set of skills, like how to tie his shoes, how to ride a bike, how to build every Star Wars scene with Legos, how to avoid Gamer's Thumb during long Skylanders sessions, and how to fake a belch. But my husband didn't have many opportunities to go camping or fishing when he grew up and he's a little too safety-minded to throw caution to the wind and drive out to the middle of nowhere with just a sleeping bag, duct tape, and chopsticks. (Seriously, I think that's all I took one time during a spontaneous camping trip!)

However. my dad was in the Boy Scouts and his dad was his troop leader -- all something I recently learned now that I'm old enough to actually pay attention to him when he talks. He could probably built an entire fortress with just twigs and spit. Of course, that won't be necessary. Because these days, the ol' Boy Scout camps in a very comfortable 5th wheel. Nothing like enjoying the outdoors with indoor plumbing!

We enjoyed camping while I was growing up. Sometimes we camped in tents. Sometimes in a small trailer that sat in the back of our truck. We lots of adventures and created great memories. My dad was always quite skilled at setting up the camp, chopping wood, and starting a fire. We'd spending time hiking and exploring. And back at camp, we'd play games and read books.

Now while my dad easily earned his scout badge for camping, I'm not sure he ever earned one for fishing.

Throughout the years, my dad has had brief aspirations to fish. Every so often, he would get an inkling that he might actually enjoy it. However, I'm not sure I recall him ever actually catching something. He's more like the lucky mascot for everyone else who fishes with him. When he went fishing with my mom, she caught fish. When he took Big Dude on his first fishing expedition, my happy hubby came back with several fish. My dad? Nada. Zero. Zilch.

So really, I'm not sure why my dad decided to teach Little Dude how to fish. But at least it's better than teaching his how to set things on fire. And really, as long as he's fishing with my dad, Little Dude's almost guaranteed to come back with something other than mosquito bites and pockets full of rocks. I'm looking forward to Little Dude coming home from Camp Papa with lots of stories and memories... and possibly a fish or two.

And by the way... this morning as I was saying goodbye to Little Dude, the reality hit me... this is the longest that he's been away from us!

It didn't sink in until he pulled out his camera, and after taking a picture of Papa and Grandma, he took a picture of me. He said he wanted a picture of me in case he forgot what my face looks like!

Hmm... maybe I didn't explain how long his trip is. He may possibly be planning to stay with Papa and Grandma longer than I planned on!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mesopotamian Mind

Remember when you first learned about Mesopotamia? Cuneiform? Gilgamesh? Ziggurats?

Me neither!

Was it junior high? High school? College? I'm not sure I ever actually learned about Mesopotamia. I definitely don't remember learning anything about a guy named Hammurabi. And I could not point out Ur on a map.

But it's a new generation. Hello, Core Curriculum. Just a month into 1st Grade, my son brought home this study guide...

Yep. He had a test on Mesopotamia.


Now, I've been pretty positive so far about Core Curriculum. I like the idea that if we were to one day move to another state, Little Dude wouldn't miss a beat in school. I like the math that he's been doing (basic algebra right now). And I like the amount of time spent on reading, spelling, and writing.

But seriously? A test on Mesopotamia? I can't even pronounce "ziggurats" and he's supposed to know what it is? Shouldn't 1st Grade Social Studies be spent learning something more general instead of delving into a subject that college students spend an entire semester studying?

So last week, I found myself having to make a decision... whether to just help my kid memorize the answers to get through the test or to actually make sure he understood the subject. Hmm...

On one hand, I've survived this long without any academic knowledge of Mesopotamia. Unless Little Dude plans on completing the $800 question in the Mesopotamia category on Jeopardy, I'm sure he'll be fine with just memorizing. But on the other hand, with the way Core Curriculum is structured, what if this is the foundation for future lessons on Mesopotamia or other ancient civilizations? What if he gets into 3rd Grade and regrets having just memorized the answers because he now has to truly delve into the subject? What if he has to take The History of Ancient Mesopotamia in college and is behind all his peers... because mom just let him memorize the answers?

With nightmarish visions of my child's future failure in my mind, I sat down and starting quizzing him. Luckily, he knew most of the answers AND how to pronounce them. In fact, he even corrected my pronunciation a couple times.

Apparently I was worried for nothing. He knew the subject. We even Googled some Core Curriculum lesson plans on Mesopotamia and had fun looking at the pictures and PowerPoint slides as Little Dude taught me about Mesopotamia. He even told me the story of Gilgamesh.

Crisis averted!

This time.

Hopefully next time I'm facing a memorization vs. understanding choice, I'll remember this moment. The moment I realized my kid actually learns stuff in school. The moment I realized that memorization is also an important tool to learn and that my kid doesn't have to be an expert in every subject. The moment I realized that my title as the "Crazy Mom" at school is pretty secure because I tend to over think everything.

EPILOGUE: Little Dude went on to ace the Mesopotamia test. He didn't have to spell ziggurats or Euphrates. It was multiple choice. :-) He is now studying the Scientific Method. And Crazy Mom over here can't wait delve into that subject!!!