Younger boy lived with us from birth till he was three, then came to live with us again at age thirteen. At three he was a hand full and a half of charging bull. At sixteen, he’s Mr. Cool one day and Mr. Country Singer the next.
Younger boy turned sixteen today. (Actually, it was yesterday. Imagine my surprise this morning, when I found out I had put up a different blog–oops!) His request was for steak, mashed potatoes and corn (those two go hand in hand at our house) and German Chocolate Cake, which is really quite easy to bake (from scratch) but taking a cake from a hot oven to an overly air conditioned counter causes it to burst like a punctured balloon. The boys have decided I should recreate this treat every time as then you get more of the goodie filling and less cake.
He had a lot of catching up to do, at thirteen, when he entered public school for the first time. He was reading at a second grade level and did math at third grade level. He had not been taught any history or geography and the only science he had was when he watched his younger brother being taught how to make Gak. Hence, my insistence, and I think it is a good idea even for good home educators (and I know quite a few good ones), that home schoolers should have legislated testing every two years. No child left behind folks, means all children.
Because of not being taught to write at the proper age, youngest boy has a writing disability and takes a laptop to school with him. He has a pass to go to the Learning Resource Center and get help with his tests, as he is slow at reading (He may have them fooled on that one. He can read Harry Potter just fine, even if it is slow.) Thank you, J. K. Rowling for interesting him in any reading at all.
He does write and every time, when I take the magnetic grocery list off the fridge to copy it into my laptop for a store list, I say, “What does this mean?”
He comes, looks and says, “I don’t know.”
I say, “Well you wrote it.” as I look at cat scratches that resembles skinny dictation marks.
He says, “Doesn’t mean I know what it says.”
When he was one and a half, someone looked out a window and saw a ceramic cat go flying across the yard. It’s the kind of thing where you sit there and say, “That’s strange.” Then, when the second one goes flying by, you run. Yup, there he was, standing at an open window and emptying his mother’s cabinet out the window. He had a nice little pile of broken knick knacks, outside.
By the age of two, he was missing one day, and found on top of the refrigerator, having eaten half a tray of brownies, which were hidden on the refrigerator for a reason (So he wouldn’t eat them.). No one is sure how he got up there. The chair to the counter was easy, but how did he get from the counter to the top of the fridge? It was quite a stretch.
After the boys and their mother moved in with stepfather, things got hairy. His mother being terrified to be alone at night, kept a container of mace on the dresser; twice he sprayed himself in the face. He was playing “Toro, Toro”, as in bull fights with his two other “blanket holding” brothers, not airplane crash Toro, and, being the bull he was already, charged and knocked himself unconscious on the corner door frame. To the hospital again, we go.
Then, Christmas arrived and youngest boy took to crunching Christmas tree lights. You could hear the glass crunching as he walked through a room and the nearest adult would run their finger through his mouth and remove the end of the bulb, and as much glass as possible, then feed him bread. The nurse hotline knew us by voice. When the lights were removed from the bottom half of the tree, he began taking apart flashlights and eating their bulbs.
He’s broken his ankle since he’s been living here and wrenched a shoulder but mostly he’s searching for his identity. This week it is boots, ripped jeans, camouflage vest and Dundee hat, with a swagger. Some weeks, it’s pure cowboy. Other times it is the lamentable ripped off sleeves southern Indiana, hillbilly wannabe look. Those weeks, I nag.