Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Annoyed or Flattered?

I was talking with Sensei last night. Though he hasn't mentioned it directly, we're definitely in gear-up mode for my brown belt test. We've practiced punching out candles twice now, he's given me one pre-test run-through of my katas, and we've been discussing various aspects of the test. I feel pretty comfortable about everything on the test except for the candle-punching - which mainly just needs practice. I've managed to put out the candles a couple of times with each hand, but I'm not at all reliable yet. In particular I keep rotating my hips into the punch more when actually punching than when checking my distance, and hitting the candle (an automatic failure). When I try to compensate for this, I end up too short of the candle, and don't put it out. Sigh. More practice, and I'll get it.

Anyway, Sensei and I were discussing the test requirements last night after class, and he commented that he thought perhaps they were too easy, and he should add some stuff. Which I have mixed feelings about. He's the Sensei, whatever he chooses to put on the test is fine. Plus, he's passed a female brown belt before, and apparently didn't think this same test was too easy then for her, so that he thinks it is now for me is sort of flattering. On the other hand, these are the test requirements I've known and been practising for, and it feels a little unfair to have him add more at the final countdown to the test.

In the end though, I think my first thought was the right one. He's my Sensei. He can test me on whatever he chooses to test me on.

Last night's work-out included pushups. Not ordinary pushups. Slow, perfect form pushups. We didn't do a whole lot, really not any more than usual, but my whole upper chest, back, and arms are killing me today. I haven't had muscles this sore in ages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

War & Peace in the closet

First off - sorry to not be posting much. I have a paying knitting project, and a semi-paying (barter) project of reading academic articles onto tape for a Ph.D. student with reading difficulties. I still have an enormous stack of articles to do, but I'm beginning to get into a rhythm which works for me, so the rest of my life is re-emerging.

Now, for the title of this little piece. My sons, Aaron and Robbie are both quite bright, but very different critters. Robbie is academically quite brilliant - and loves everybody to know it. If he learns how to do something, or figures out some obscure thing, he will broadcast it to the world. Nobody is in any doubt of how much Robbie knows.

Aaron is much quieter. A lot of people don't really have any take on how smart Aaron is, because he not only won't broadcast what he knows, but will actually hide it unless directly asked. We didn't find out he knew any of his letters until he knew all of them. By the time I figured out he was a dinosaur nut, he could tell me that a Dimetrodan was not, in fact, a dinosaur, but rather a mammal-like reptile - at 3! The family quote on Aaron comes from his aunt Kelly. "You'll find out Aaron can read when you catch him in the closet with War & Peace."

Well, Aaron can read - and Kelly was damn near right. We knew he could put together short words, and keep up with the reading requirements of his first grade class pretty easily, but that's a far cry from sitting down with a book for enjoyment. I still had him classified in my head as a "learning reader", rather than as an outright reader. But last night after shutting down all the lights, I went upstairs and noticed a light coming out from under the bedroom door. I opened it, and there was a little thump as Aaron dropped what he was holding and looked up with big eyes. "I'm sorry, Mommy. I was just doing a little reading."

Sitting on the floor was "The Pokemon Handbook", which is a book of lists about various things Pokemon. I've had Robbie following me around with it before reading things off. It's cut into short hunks, but it is not an easy-reading book. I would peg the reading difficulty at about chapter-book level, though with fewer big blocks of text.

When the heck did this kid start reading bigger books for fun? I'm not complaining, mind you (far from it), but how did he slip this little development past us?

Do I ever stop getting floored when Aaron trots out some dramatic new ability completely out of the blue? Do I want to?