Well, after being put off for a week to make up for excessive snow days, the boys had their official last day of school on Thursday. Rob was unable to make Robbie's elementary school graduation (helpfully held in the middle of the morning), but Dad W. and I were there. Robbie received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, which came with a certificate and a letter from the President. He was amazingly excited about this, and we go looking tomorrow for an appropriate frame to stick them in. The award is pretty stringent - A's in all subject all year (not the average, no B's allowed), and a Pass-plus in both segments of the ISTEP, which is the Indiana standardized testing protocol. The girl who lives behind us is the only other student to be both a member of the Gifted & Talented group, and to receive the award. She might as well have just stood up for the entire ceremony, as she received just about every award the school had to offer except the sports awards.
Aaron had a rougher ending of the school year, by being out sick from the second to last Friday, straight through until the last four days. He rounded out the last four days by being sent home both Monday and Tuesday for throwing up, as the sore throat he had all the previous week seemed to have left his gag reflex in hyper mode. He's a pretty gaggy kid anyway, and this last week, pretty much anything would make him gag and throw up. So his last complete day was Wed., because then we had a doctor's appointment on Thursday. Ironically, it was nothing to do with his week of being sick, being a well-child check-up to follow up on his occupational therapy. When we made the appointment, the last day of school was still the week before, and the boys' pediatrician has a 2-3 month lead time on well-child visits, so rescheduling wasn't really optimal.
So Aaron was feeling pretty grumpy about his last week of school, and who could blame him? This all changed Saturday when we got a letter from the school telling us that his teacher had recommend him to the Gifted & Talented program. This doesn't mean automatic entry, but it's a big vote of confidence from his teacher (she didn't recommend Robbie when he was in her class, interestingly enough). He'll be tested in depth at the beginning of the school year and if he does well enough, then he'll be put in the G&T group. I hope he does get in. It's been a great experience for Robbie, once he was put in by his fourth grade teacher (who snuck him into the sessions on the side while pushing for him to be tested for entry). Aaron's so used to having more trouble in school than Robbie, because of his difficulties with writing and coordination, that to be put forward on his own merits earlier than his brother was is just the coolest thing he can imagine.
It's going to be a busy summer with the boys. In about two weeks (EEEK!!), we leave for the Isshinryu World Tournament. This will be followed by a whirlwind trip up to Boston and NYC, and back home for about three weeks, then over to the family reunion in TN, and another couple weeks after that, they'll be done with the summer. During the time we're actually home, the plan is piano for Aaron, guitar for Robbie, swimming and bowling for both kids, and karate, karate, karate for Mommy - with sides of organ. It's looking like my black belt test will probably be in mid-late August, to give things time to settle down after the mad running around. This gives me 11-12 weeks to get ready, which terrifies me just slightly. I know all the things I need to know. Sensei has seen and passed everything I need to do at least once. I have at least first drafts of all my three essay topics - except that Sensei just told me he only wants one paper, so now I have to figure out how to combine them!
In some ways, it's the nebulousness of the progress I need to make by August that's scaring me. There are very few specifics that everyone agrees need work (except the omnipresent "More speed!"), more that everything needs to be smoother, sharper, more focused - more something. There's nothing left to learn that's so specific that I can point to it and say, "okay, I've got that down, show me something else." It's all incremental improvement from here.
For example, speed is about the most concrete thing I have left to work on. It's universally agreed to be one of my weakest points. The other day, both black belts watched me do Tokumine no Kun for the first time in a couple of weeks, and both looked at each other and told me "Hey, that was faster! Good job!" Which was great, except that I had had no perception that I was any faster than I had been before. I had been working on the kata, and working on my speed generally, and working on my speed in the kata, but I had no inkling that I had actually gotten faster with my bo until someone outside told me so. I feel like I'm fumbling in the dark, just trusting that if I work on what I'm being told to work on, I will improve as a result.
I really hate not being able to guage my progress, and I hate even more the panicky feeling that stems from coming up on being tested on exactly that progress I can't guage. But there's not much help for it unless I decide to stay a brown belt forever, and Sensei just might have to shoot me if I did that.
Expect some amount of grumbling and panic on this front for the next twelve-or-so weeks.