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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flying

So imagine my surprise today when Mason's teacher called me to tell me that Mason won an award at the district science fair and invited us to the awards ceremony tonight!  He won 3rd place in the Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering category for his hot air balloon project!
I am so proud of him!  He presented his project at the district science fair yesterday.  The first thing he told me was that he got really nervous when he saw how many people were there.  And if that wasn't enough, he was called back to present his project AGAIN because there was a tie, and the judges wanted him to present again!  Mason was actually competing against not only his fellow 3rd graders, but 4th and 5th graders, too, from the entire district!
Mason was so excited and so proud when his name was called.  I was trying to hold and keep quiet a squiggly little tot named Ellie while also trying to take pictures too far away in an auditorium.  So this isn't the best.  But here he is accepting his trophy.
And here he is with his display board and his trophy.  This is a huge accomplishment for Mason!  And he doesn't even realize it!  A big part of this is the presentation.  And verbal expression is not Mason's strong point right now.  We're working on it, and we've been working on it.  It's a lot better than it was.  But sometimes it's very challenging for him to get the thoughts and information in his brain to come out of his mouth in a way that is organized, coherent and complete.  This is another way dyslexia has manifested itself.  Mason was really excited about this project because he was so fascinated by hot air balloons at the festival we went to last fall.  He also thought it was really neat actually doing the project and watching it actually work.  We worked together on his board.  But his presentation was all up to him.  He never practiced it.  I never once coached him on it, not even for the science fair at his school.  As a matter of fact, my friend asked him this past weekend to tell her about his project.  When I heard his answer, my first thought was that I'd have absolutely no clue what in the world he was talking about if I hadn't done it with him and knew what he'd done!  So yesterday morning I told him to remember that he was going to explain his project to people who had no idea what he'd done and that he would need to explain each step in the correct order.  And then I wished him good luck, and that was it!  He did this all. by. himself!
This has been a huge lesson for me.  I have allowed a diagnosis of dyslexia to define my child, to determine what he can and can not do.  I saw all of the things he wasn't capable of or, rather, the things I THOUGHT he wasn't capable of.  And, boy, was I wrong!  My friend had asked me if I thought he would win anything at the district level, and I told her absolutely not.  When she asked me why, I told her it was because his presentation skills are so weak.  I'm so thankful that this child of mine believes he can do anything!  Because I've certainly not been the one to encourage him in that.  But today . . . that changed.

Last week Mason's Occupational Therapist was talking with me about goals for this semester.  She asked me what I was hoping for.  She asked me that at a time when I was discouraged.  Really discouraged.  I told her that, at that point, I didn't even know anymore.  But more than anything, I was longing for a day when Mason could do this stuff, do school independently and without so much help from me.  Will the day ever come when it's not necessary for me to sit with him every afternoon and help him through homework?  Will he ever be ready one day for middle school work, high school work, college work?  Mason has proved to me over and over that yes, he can, and yes, he will!  It's me that's still a work in progress!

It's also this same sweet Occupational Therapist who told me before Christmas that she was going to help Mason spread his wings and fly.  And that one day he would definitely fly.  Today I saw that.  I saw him flying.  And I'd never seen that before.  Not because he wasn't flying.  But because I wasn't looking.   

I'm not a fan of science fair projects.  At all.  I can vividly remember my 6th grade science fair project.  That was the first year I was required to complete a science fair project, and I was dreading it!  I didn't like science.  It was, hands down, my least favorite subject.  Besides PE.  And I had no idea what in the world to do.  I can't remember the point of my project, but it had something to do with animals in different habitats all over the globe.  I think it was more informational in nature and not experimental.  Anyway, 6th grade was also the time when I decided I wanted to be an artist.  That made perfect sense, especially since I couldn't, and still can't, draw stick people!  But I wanted to draw.  So I got some tracing paper and traced all different kinds of animals out of the World Book Encyclopedia (you'll have to google that if you're under the age of 30!).  And then I colored them with colored pencils.  And then I glued them to my three-sided board.  I can remember thinking it was the worst science fair project ever!  And then I won a 3rd place ribbon.  I figured the judges just felt sorry for me and all the time I'd spent tracing and coloring those silly animals.  It was also after that project that I abandoned my dream of being an artist.

I don't remember what I did for my 7th grade science fair project.  In 8th grade we were given the option of working with a partner for the project.  So I did.  My BFF came over one day, and we spent the afternoon in Daddy's shop putting our science fair project together.  I don't remember much about this one either.  I think it had something to do with electricity.  And we fashioned this wooden box and painted it.  I remember putting some of my brother's matchbox cars in it.  I really don't know what the purpose of those were.  There was light.  But other than that, I can't tell you anything else about it.  And that was the end of my science fair project days.  In high school, science fair projects were optional.  And, of course, I opted out!

So here I am sending my children to a magnet school with an emphasis on the arts, math and SCIENCE.  So, unfortunately, there are many, many more science fair projects in my future.  But I think this one will always be my favorite.

Keep flying, my boy!  Keep flying!

1 comment:

Kori Page said...

This is my favorite blog ever! I love how you said you realized it wasn't that Mason wasn't flying but that you simply weren't looking. So many times I get bogged down by life and forget to savor the little moments in life. I should be thankful and eager to help my son with his algebra homework instead of getting frustrated when he doesn't get it like I always did. Thank you, Julie, I love reading about your family's milestones and memories!