Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Middle School Mania

Now, turning our attention to the 7th grader, we have the Riley Update. Let's begin with a soccer-related tale that involves...practically FIFA-level ineptitude, in my opinion (even if not, you know, the corruption and scandal of the paid professional footballers). Waaaay back in the balmy Spring, Riley went through a 3-day tryout with all the rest of the kids who wanted to play for the local league, and was selected for a traveling team. He was flattered and excited, and accepted the position. Shortly thereafter we got a welcoming email from his coach, with an attached roster of his fellow U12s. All seemed well. Sadly, that was but a temporary illusion.

We went through the Summer thinking that practices would be starting the week of August 3rd...because that's the only information we'd been given. (Silly us! To believe that we'd actually be told...important-type stuff!) As the date approached and we hadn't received any further word on practice days, times, or venues, I attempted to contact the coach--and got no reply. So in confusion, I tried the league commissioner for Riley's age group...and only then did we find out that his team had folded. I'm sorry, WHAT? Apparently, they lost their coach, only 8 boys actually paid and registered...and a bunch of other official mumbo-jumbo. The proposed solution was to split the remaining kids onto the other 2 teams. However, since their rosters were already full, this would require moving players up the ladder into higher tiers to make room. Ay yi yi, it was a regular old fiasco, I tell ya.

I short, the nonsense continued for 3 WEEKS while Husband and I peppered the Commish with emails and phone calls (few of which he deigned to answer) asking for Riley to be placed with he could meet his new squad and start A) getting to know them and B) kicking the ball around and having some fun, for crying out loud. But as luck would have it (or fate, or who knows, perhaps a Higher Power happens to be a fan of the Beautiful Game) he sent us to the wrong field one time, to find the team Riley would supposedly be joining. Instead, we encountered a U13 group...who also belonged to a different level within the league. It was all good, though, as Riley instantly recognized a handful of the guys on the field from school--and their coach was kind enough to let him practice with them anyway.

As it turned out, the answer was right there in front of us. You see, Riley has a late birthday, (relative to the school term, anyway) making him always one of the youngest kids in his grade. In Maryland, the soccer organization arranged kids by their academic year, regardless of when they were born, so you would be with your peers by default. In North Carolina, however, Riley's August birth missed the cutoff in their system...forcing him to play with kids a year lower in school. We didn't even know it was possible to request that he "play up"...but once we figured this out, he happily slipped into the U13 ranks and--fiiiiiinallllly....yay!!--had a new team. (And so far, they--coach, parents, players--seem universally great. Let the games begin!)

MEANWHILE, he came home from school on the second day and handed me a stack of papers. "Here you go, these are what you need to fill out and sign for me to participate on the cross-country club," he matter-of-factly stated...while I gaped at him in bewilderment. "Let me just get this're going to run cross-country...AND play soccer?" He nodded coolly, "Sure!" Oh...kay. He had threatened--um "contemplated"--doing this, so it wasn't completely out of the blue. But the fact that he actually followed through came as a bit of a...surprise. So now he works out with the runners every day after school until 4:45. And 2 evenings a week, he pretty much comes home, grabs a small snack, and goes back out to zip around in the grass with a ball for another hour and a half. Yep, that's gonna be one ultra-fit...and super-duper-exhausted...kiddo!

Finally, there's been just a wee bit of upheaval in his academic scene...which is kind of my fault, if you think about it. You see, last year I pushed for Riley to be offered what they call Compact Math here--basically an accelerated program. I figured, analysis and computation have always been some of his strengths, and I want him to be challenged to the best of his abilities, yadda yadda yadda. Unfortunately, timing-wise, I made this request toward the end of the school year. So when the teachers went on their well-earned break, there was no guidance available to help us get him ready for the change. We knew he might have "gaps" in his learning since he wasn't in the class last year...but we didn't know what, exactly, to focus on to remediate this. So we decided to just let it go and enjoy the hiatus...and figured we'd pay the...Mathematical Piper...when our number was up in the Fall. (Ha! Sorry...)

Now we're embroiled in the first unit...and there are indeed...some struggles. But the good news is: at least for right now, it's ALGEBRA, which I just loooooove. I mean, it makes sense...there's a logical sequence to solving the get an actual answer...and you can check it to see if you're correct! What's not exciting about that? (I know, I know..."control freak" and "nerd" all wrapped up together...I'm okay with that...) I don't quite have the heart to wreck his world by sharing my own personal feeling that, after this, it gets all...abstract...and weird...and darn-near incomprehensible with Calculus (shudder) and whatnot. Nope, let's just live in the moment, and address such delightful little puzzles as: 2n/5 + 6 = 10....or this one -18 = 5r/2 + 12. See? Isn't that awesome?

Whew...I'm wiped out just trying to keep track of what's going on in the Life of Riley. Speaking of which...where IS he? Oh's Wednesday, which means it's almost time for me to pick up one verrrry sweaty young man from soccer practice. And then, if fortune favors us this evening...another round of...Numberpalooza! Yippee!!!!

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