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April 2016

Everyone Loves The Fair

[There is another new post below this one - I decided to separate them because... honestly because I didn't like the arc. What can I say.]


"Mom!" Caroline said as she got into the car yesterday, "We're having a science fair!"


I realize that reasonable people can disagree but as far as I am concerned this is the worst sentence in the English language.

"Are you sure?" I asked in much the same way one might say 'And the doctor really said it was ringworm?'

"Absolutely!" Then she added, "We have a packet" and proceeded to try to shove a sheaf of paper the size of a phone book into my lap.

"Science fair, eh?" Edward said as if this was the first he had heard of it and I wondered, briefly, where he had left his enormous packet. 

"Hmmmmmmm... ," he said and then somewhere between the school parking lot and my first turn onto a main road he had decided that he was going to investigate the possibility of twin telepathy, formulated his hypothesis, established his test and control groups, and explained the framework for his proposed research which would involve flashcards and a clipboard upon which he could record results.

I relaxed a bit. Well, I thought, this isn't going to be so...

"I have two great ideas," Caroline announced "but I think I am going to go with the first one."


"I am going to look into which type of glass shatters most easily when you hit it with an arrow."

"Uh... ."

"So I'll need to set up giant pieces of different kinds of glass in the front yard and then... ."

I stopped her right there. "No," I said. "Next idea," I said.

She was annoyed but continued.

"OKKKKKKKKK, my next idea is to see whether people who usually have a hard time falling asleep take longer to get knocked out when they are hit by a tranquilizer gun."


Patrick choked.

"Ah yes," he said "the human experimentation division of the second grade science fair. Very popular."

"Caroline," I said, "those are both very interesting questions and I love your thinking but I don't believe that either idea is practical right now. Why don't we look up project ideas when we get home and see what else appeals to you."

"No, no!" said Patrick. "I think she should go around shooting people with tranquilizer darts and then ask them when they come to whether they consider themselves in general to be insomniacs. "

She kicked the back of his seat and then spent the rest of the drive home glaring moodily out the window. Scientists, like artists, are often not fully appreciated in their own time.

What's In A Title

During an especially tense game of Catan I recently begged Edward to trade me a grain card and - upon his cold refusal - wheedled, "Surely with all those cards in your hand you can spare a small quantity of grain for a poor widow like myself?"

"Ha!" he said. "You're not a widow! You're a civilized house lady of the modern age" (later in that same game he opened trade negotiations with Steve by saying, "I need ore and I know you have it. You! Yes, you with the pretty hair!" - Edward was on a roll.)


Yesterday as I was signing off on the Your Child Qualifies For An IEP documents that precede the Now What meeting I saw that it had spaces for name, date, signature and title; so under the latter I wrote, "House Lady, civilized." But I wrote it really small and messy so they won't know that I think I'm funny.

Speaking of really small and messy, a number of you asked about dysgraphia and I wish I knew more because I try to be helpful when I can and shared experience is important.

So, for what little it is worth, my new to the scene layparent's explanation goes like this: dysgraphia (similar to dyslexia with reading and dyscalculia with numbers) is a neurological disorder that prevents the brain from properly managing the tasks associated with writing. It's not just sloppy handwriting or flipped letter formation (b for d, capitals for lowercase, vice and versa - although you get that in spades) but a disconnect in the elaborate mental processes that go into formulating an idea, translating that idea into words, and then breaking those words back into letters before physically reproducing them on paper or vellum or a cocktail napkin or whatever comes to hand.

The neuropsychologist Edward saw in December said, for example, that for a dysgraphic person the act of trying to copy notes from a board is "excruciating" not just because it is difficult to form letters properly, but because of all the steps involved in looking at the board, reading the material, synthesizing it, returning attention back to the paper, forming the words ... frizzle!

Edward himself gave me even better insight when we sat at the table recently and I alternately cajoled and bullied him into using words longer than three letters on a homework assignment. He asked if I was able to write with my feet and when I said I had no idea as I had never tried to do so; he told me to try it.

So we abandoned his worksheet and got a piece of paper and I proceeded to try to write my name holding a marker between my big and second toes while pinning the paper down with my other foot.

Good. Grief. Talk about excruciating.

It turns out I can do it. Sort of. And it looked like my first name. Sort of.

Edward and I surveyed my work and I said, "Wow. That was really hard."

Edward said, "Yeah and it looks terrible."


Then he said, "Ok! Now use your foot to finish my worksheet and don't forget to use words like arthropod rather than bug."