Tag Archives: Eighth Grade

22 And 45

Now we’re talking, dudes.

Barry and I sat down at Park Road Books yesterday with the best of intentions. We’d brought along some cheese and fruit and crackers, as well as some cold drinks and ice.

Oh, and a couple of very nice pens.

On the way in, we talked to Sherri, who set us up in the back of the store right next to the kiddie books. To me, that was the perfect place because, when there was a lull in visitors, I planned to get in a little browsing.

I didn’t get much browsing time, though. All you wonderful dudes and dudettes who showed up at Park Road Books to buy a copy of A Dude’s Guide to Babies and get it signed by Barry and me were absolutely wonderful. Sherri said the store ordered 40 copies of the book and expected to sell, maybe six or so on a relatively good day.

Instead, we managed to talk people into walking away with 22 copies of the book. We truly can’t thank you enough, dudes and dudettes. You’re wonderful!

Now, once you’ve read the book, head over to amazon.com and leave a review. Good or bad, we want to hear from you.

Again, thanks to the wonderful folks at Park Road Books and Sellers Publishing for setting this up.

On to the second number.

That number is one near and dear to the heart of my young Hyper Lad. It’s the number of school days left in the school year. Poor little dude.

He’s not looking forward to today’s resumption of school. He’s feeling a little pressure. Things are getting rather hard for him, almost as if he’s hitting some sort of wall. Which sounds very, very familiar.

His brother, Sarcasmo, hit the wall near the middle of his junior year in high school. Zippy the College Boy hit the wall in the middle of eighth grade. That wall, in case you didn’t know, is something most kids who have diagnosed learning disabilities hit at some point or other.

The wall is the point at which the young dude’s native intelligence and hard work aren’t enough to overcome the difficulties posed by the learning disability. Things go from being difficult to being hard. It’s never fun to see, but I’m glad it’s something we did notice.

Now that we know it’s there, we can start to work out ways to make sure and get Hyper Lad to work with or around that learning disability. It’s not going to be fun, but it is doable.

It’s always better to face your shortcomings and find a way to deal with them, rather than ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away. A hard lesson, but one well worth learning.

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Bedtime Can Become Math Time

by Richard

There’s a lot of truth to the thought that math will bore almost anyone to sleep. Not that it’s not important, because it very much is, but trying to read a math book can be simultaneously frustrating and slee-inducing.

Most young dudes, and old dudes and all dudes between dislike math. It’s just a fact. There are dudes and dudettes out there who love math, who look at the intricate dance of numbers and the relationships built up through cross-numerical insufficiency (I just made that up, but I really think it sounds important and math-y. Don’t you?) and see something wonderful.

I am not one of those people.

I can do a lot of basica math and that’s all right. I re-taught myself algebra when Zippy the Monkey Boy had a particularly difficult time in eighth grade, but I quickly flushed that out of my brain to make room for important stuff like the real name of the Hypno Hustler. So, yeah. I get math, but I don’t like it.

There’s an interesting organization out there now that’s trying to change that feeling in a lot of people. And the organization is doing it by asking parents to begin incorporating math into the bedtime routines of their little dudes and little dudettes.

The organization is called Bedtime Math. And it’s got some lovely ideas about helping us change how we perceive of math. If we want to make math something that just happens, not something to be avoided, we need to make it part of the everyday lives of our little dudes and little dudettes. Simply walk them through a math problem each night at bed. And it’s just that simple.

Here’s a sample.

When you build a boat, your goal is to make sure it won’t sink.  So it’s funny that we’ve made a kind of boat that’s supposed to sink.  Submarines are sea vessels that can seal themselves up and go entirely underwater, with record-breaking dives over 35,000 feet deep.  To submerge (sink), they pull water into their tanks; to come back up, they push the water out of the tanks to become more buoyant and float.  The first submarine ever invented was only 10 feet long, but today’s subs are as long as two football fields and weigh as much as 12,000 cars!  No wonder they have no trouble sinking.

Wee ones (counting on fingers): It’s pretty crowded on a submarine: sometimes 9 crew mates share a bunk room to sleep.  If you and your immediate family stayed in one bunk room, how many more people could fit in there with you all?

Little kids: If a submarine is as long as 2 football fields, and a football field is 100 yards long, how many yards long is the submarine?  Bonus: There are 3 feet in a yard, so how many feet is that?

Big kids: If a car weighs 2 tons and a submarine weighs the same as 12,000 cars, how many tons does the submarine weigh?  Bonus: A submarine that big can hold a lot of crew members: On the Trident, about 50,000 meals are served on a 60-day trip!  How many meals do they serve in a 30-day month?

As you can see, it’s not that difficult, but it does require the sleepy student to pay attention and do some inductive reasoning on their own.

I think it’s a great idea and a fine way to combat the creeping, intentional, willful innumeracy in this country.

Why not give it a shot?

I know Hyper Lad’s going to be hearing some of these in the near future.

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Another One Bites The Diploma

by Richard

Another year later, another big group of family coming to town as we watch another Jones boy walk across that stage, grab a diploma and hope nobody realizes they made a mistake and keeps him in high school.

Well, no, it’s really not that bad. In this case, it’s actually pretty great.

Zippy the Monkey Boy is graduating high school today and he’s doing it as his class salutatorian, which means he had the second-best grade-point average in his class. As such, he has to make a short speech during graduation.

He tried to dump the responsibility off on me, but I just let it bounce right back. As of Thursday night, he still hadn’t written a word. Graduation occurs today at 11 am. He says he works best under pressure. I can’t wait to tape this and then play it back for him the next time he says that stupid saying.

His mom and I are really proud of Zippy the Monkey Boy. In eighth grade, he was struggling, both academically and socially, and turning into a real sea urchin of a person, all spiky and prickly and somebody no one wanted to be around. Going to The Fletcher School, a private school for dudes and dudettes with learning disabilities, changed all that.

Thanks to fantastic teachers and administrators, Zippy the Monkey Boy became reenergized academically and not only enjoyed most of the work he was doing, but he actually looked forward to it. Socially, he started growing again, making friends and finding out that people actually could be good and were fun to be around.

That’s a lot of growth to pack into just four years. And he did it all while also discovering the joys of competitive basketball, flag football, cross country and, of course, girls.

The most important skill Zippy the Monkey Boy learned was how to climb trees on his own. I hardly ever had to get on his case to get him to do a project or remind him of an upcoming test. Sure, a lot of that was due to how The Fletcher School was run, but I’m hoping enough of that was innate that some will come through when he starts college at University of North Carolina Wilmington in the fall.

He’s already looking forward to that. I think, in his mind, he’s skipped the whole tedious graduation thing and is, even now, checking into his new dorm room and saying good-bye to the anchors (which would be his parents).

His mom and I, though, still are firmly rooted in the now. We’re going to smile and, maybe, cry just a little as our second young dude walks through another milestone on his way to his own life. This is the big one. Zippy the Monkey Boy is moving out of Casa de Dude, heading off to make his own nest and, we’re sure, make a whole lot of mistakes. We’re just hoping he’ll be able to straighten them out on his own.

It’s like Thomas Wayne, father to Bruce, said: “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Here’s to you, Zippy the Monkey Boy. You’ve made it through the hardest part of your life. What you didn’t know was that now we get to add two little words to that. Those words? So far. The hardest part of your life. . . so far. Now you get to do it all over again and this time you get to do it on your own.

The good news is that I know he can do it. He’s one of the most stubborn people on the face of the planet and, hopefully, his mother and I have taught him to use his powers for good, not evil

He’s moving from the Falcons to the Seahawks, but he’s still going to soar.

Congratulations, dude. We love you.

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