Blue Drops and Karate Chops

The past week has been a long one, with some highs and lows. My uncle passed away as well as a former colleague from my first career, who happened to be very near to my own age, so the week  had the potential to be miserable, but there were also a couple of bright spots – really bright spots.

The first bright moment was when I started teaching Collier and his fellow boy scouts about journalism for their journalism badge. It was nice to talk about my first career and teach young boys about the craft. I haven’t talked about or taught journalism since I moved from teaching high school to community college, so I’m looking forward to teaching this merit badge. The second bright spot of the week was Wednesday, when I took Collier to class day at our cover school, Valley Creek Academy.  

This is our first year at Valley Creek, and our previous cover school didn’t have a class day. Even if they had, we were too far away to take part. Though that school did have 4-H, it always fell on a day that wasn’t one of my teaching days for Collier, so I missed out. All of Valley Creek’s class days are Wednesdays, so once a month I’ll get to take him. This Wednesday was our first. With Collier’s abilities being quite different than his peers, I didn’t know what to expect.

After assembly, in which I was given about ten minutes to try and recruit some boys for Boy Scouts, we went to our first class, science. The teacher gave every student a plastic bottle and poured some water in it. Then, they added food coloring, and then filled the bottle almost to the top with vegetable oil. The last step, (or so I thought) was to add a half tablet of Alka-Seltzer. Magic! The kids were amazed as the colored bubbles rose to the top of their bottles, making what looked like a homemade lava lamp. Then, one boy asked, “What happens if I put both tablets in the bottle. Will it explode?”

He did. And it did.

The explosion itself wasn’t that big – just a pop like we used to make with milk cartons in the lunchroom in middle school, but the aftermath. Ah, the aftermath. Here’s another science lesson: Droplets of blue vegetable oil that go up must come down. Some of them, inevitably, came down on Collier and me. This would have been fine, except that Collier was wearing a shirt that we just bought a few weeks ago, and I was wearing my Boy Scout leader uniform. I hope Dawn and some stain remover will make it as good as new. Our second class was art.

Now, art is something that Collier absolutely LOVES. We have an easel at home, and he draws his own comic series, (“Collier Versus the Ugly Mama” is a classic issue) but his abilities are well below those of his peers. In the class, students drew self-portraits, with a line below the nose, and the bottom half of the page was to include a quote or statement about themselves. I was concerned that his drawing would be super sloppy (it was) and his quote would be super silly (it also was), but in the end, I just thought to myself, “Why so serious? Let the kid have fun.” I liked his drawing, even though he colored half of his face red, but his quotes were totally Collier: “I don’t like hot dogs! I like meatloaf!” If you know Collier, you know that those statements sum him up pretty well.

Our biggest surprise came with the session before lunch, where we had a choice  between cooking and karate. Knowing Collier’s athletic abilities, I was prepared to steer him towards cooking, but I let him decide. He chose karate. I was blown away that he chose it, but even more surprised that he enjoyed it. The instructor led them through some basic exercises, stretches, and a few basic karate steps and moves. Seeing Collier take a few steps and do a karate chop yelling “hi-yah!” made my day. He liked the class so much that I talked to the instructor afterwards to inquire about her school and classes.

After lunch, I had to go to work, so his Nana relieved me and hung out with him during 4-H, and she was impressed with the session and the plan for the school year. All in all, I had a great day with Collier at class day. We have never really thought about doing a co-op, but we may have to re-think that moving forward. Why not? After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we had never thought about homeschooling.

— Brian

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