Finn has succeeded in making decent grades, particularly in his Advanced Algebra class. At the start of the school year we drew up a contract with him, setting forth our expectations for his grades. The agreement stipulated that if his total GPA was above a certain number, he would be entitled to a cell phone.
This was his first year of junior high, and he had to learn to juggle numerous activities. In addition to the core curriculum he had the advanced class and two electives, Band and Spanish. He also ran cross-country every afternoon and of course kept up his once a week drum lessons. I was looking through scrapbooks recently and realized he’s on his third set of drums and fifth year of lessons– he’s well on his way to being able to replace Charlie Watts when he gives out.
Here he is with his first set of drums:
Here he is about a year or so ago doing a gut-busting drum solo:
I was positive Finn would remain phoneless. Algebra proved to be a challenge, and it revealed weaknesses in his study habits. We enlisted the help of the MasterMinds tutoring service in a last ditch effort to shore up his grades, and I’ll admit that I was snobby about the idea of tutoring, having never been tutored myself. When we got to the headquarters, however, we discovered that everyone who is anyone algebraically was being tutored, and the waiting room was a prime social hour. Plus, Finn’s tutor was much better than I was at explaining the commutative property.
So he’s entitled to a phone, and this afternoon we’re heading to Verizon to get it.
While we’ve been adamantly opposed to any technology for the kids that would take their focus away from reading and playing snipers in the front yard, I’ll admit that it will make things much easier on me once Finn is able to reach me when a practice is over, or when he has caught a ride home.
Tomorrow, for example, is not only Halloween, but also Homecoming, and Finn plans to walk from school to the village with a friend to watch the parade, then join other friends for Halloween activities, and then head to the football game. I’ll need him to check in with me and let me know where he is and who he’s with. He’s experiencing a new level of freedom, and so am I.
I’m taking the opportunity to upgrade my phone as well. I have the free phone that comes with a Verizon account. I need a phone with a QWERTY keyboard. I mainly use my phone to talk, but now I’ll be doing a small bit of texting and I’d love to be able to check all my emails and moderate blog comments from the phone as well. It would also thrill me to be able to tweet from my phone.
I’m completely flummoxed when I stand before the array of phones at the Verizon store and I figured I’d turn to y’all instead. Do I need a Blackberry, even though I’ve made fun of Bill’s addiction to his for years? Would something else like the Dare or Voyager or ENV2 be better? I’m committed to Verizon so don’t go suggesting that I get an iPhone, lovely as that sounds.
This week we added the Maroon 5 and Counting Crows concert to our usual busy schedule of work, school and musical and athletic activities. The concert didn’t start until 8 p.m., when the boys are usually winding down, so Tuesday afternoon I got them all jacked up on Coke and Mountain Dew so they’d be wide awake for the festivities.
Drew kept his eyes glued on the bass player. Porter dragged Bill all over the amphitheater in order to view the show from every possible angle. Maroon 5 flashed green lasers over the audience from time to time, which drove Porter wild with jealousy, as his latest heart’s desire is a laser pointer that he can use to burn holes in things that he refuses to identify with more specificity.
Finn stayed put, trying to achieve that “I know I appear to be with these parental units and little brothers but I don’t actually know them” look by remaining one foot in front of us at all times and refusing to look me or Bill in the eye when answering our questions.
During the break between bands, Drew, Finn and I went to check out the T-shirts (we decided to find them cheaper on eBay) and on the way back the boys waited while I stood in the line and finally used the bathroom. I saw a girl in Finn’s class and introduced myself before ducking into a stall. Upon hearing this, Finn came undone, and made it clear that my role was to ignore her, not to approach her, smile at her or engage her in conversation so help me God.
Finn and his friend must have talked about me at school the next day. He reported that I “said some highly inappropriate things” while waiting in line for the bathroom. Sure, I was reminiscing about the days before the amphitheater had seats everywhere, and had a large lawn in the back where you could toss a blanket and relax and listen to the music, but I wasn’t talking to a seventh grader about this. I was chatting up the other ladies in line. About nineteen years ago Bill and I had gone with a group of people to a low key concert of the Jimmy Buffet or James Taylor ilk, and we spent the entire concert macking on a blanket under the stars with a live soundtrack below. Occasionally we came up for a sip of beer and a bite of fried chicken but mainly it was lips and tongues and Sweet Baby James.
The other ladies in the bathroom line had similar tales to tell, although they may have been smooching to Randy Travis or Metallica, and I think Finn and his friend are just jealous that they are going to have to drape themselves over hard stadium seats to make out (when that time comes) instead of laying back on the grass, swatting mosquitoes, assuming they notice them, which they won’t.
This week has also been dominated by Algebra, which is Finn’s most challenging class this semester. For a few weeks Bill was in charge of ensuring that Finn was employing appropriate study habits, while I checked up on the duo. However, when Finn brought home a couple of bad grades and was nonchalant about them, Bill freaked out to the Nth degree and I decided that Bill was too personally invested in Finn’s success. We switched kids and he’s now in charge of Drew and Porter’s fourth grade curriculum (and my God, Porter, George Washington Carver did a lot of great things with peanuts but he did NOT write To Kill A Mockingbird, that was Harper Lee, who hung out with Truman Capote, who was sort of a peanut, so I can see how you might get confused).
Finn has a big test today, and I am such a stellar mom that if he asks (and only if) I will write him out a practice test to help him get ready. He has some big things riding on his grade this semester (like an apparatus that rings and dials numbers).
He had a packed afternoon yesterday. He got home from cross country around 4:30 and I dropped him at the high school so he could play drums at the football game at 5:00, and he returned around 8:30. By then I had thirty math questions written out, along with my answer key. All my algebra from the 1980’s has come flooding back, so if you find yourself butting heads with an equation that contains a variable and it needs solving, or maybe graphing on a number line, or you need to apply the distributive property, reduce the numbers down to the least common denominator and solve for X, head back over here because I can help you. My talent is wasted here, though, because algebra never comes up in the law, or at the grocery store, or while doing laundry. I haven’t told Finn that.
Hot tip for the day: Any number to the 0 power is 1. I have no idea why.
Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom:It’s Good News, So Why Am I Crying?