Backing Off

The Parent Imperfect heads down the home stretch. He committed himself to write here 100 times between the beginning of one school year and the next. To do so will require that he continue to do so, even during the dawg days.

Speaking of dawg days, the Boston Public Schools have to be one of the last of the big urban school systems to release their charges each year. Vince have friends from private schools who are three weeks into their summer vacation, but he and his sister still have one more day of school this Monday. And then…only then can they finally relax for a little while.

It looks as though Vince has avoided the dreaded sentence to six weeks of summer school, which would have really changed his summer, as well as that of the Parent Imperfect. With two or three weeks of school left, he realized that summer school was a real possibility, giving him a sense of urgency that he hadn’t shown earlier. If his attendance at the nation’s oldest public school is to continue, then next year is going to have to be VERY different. The PI received a lecture early last week about the importance of “backing off” and letting the young person’s interest and motivation determine how far he (in this case) goes. That sounds very good, but the PI wonders what that will mean, in practice.

Last Thursday, one of Vince’s friends invited him on an after-school sojourn to Canobie Lake Park. The temperature was over 90 degrees and he was exhausted from staying up late studying the night before, but he had a wonderful time. Somewhere along the way, he lost his cell phone. The official explanation was that it was stolen from him when he had to put his belongings in some sort of box while he went on a ride. However he lost it, he is now without on of the electronic items that caused so much friction over the year, as his parents attempted to get him to focus on his school commitments. Without it, he feels totally isolated from his friends and is unable to look to other ways of being in touch. Since the PI and Liz made clear that he would not be getting a new phone until his grades crept to a certain threshold (not yet reached), an interesting debate is brewing.

Ms. Connie’s third grade year is also coming to an end. The so-called “transfer list” came out this week, and Connie’s once-planned transfer to the Curley Advanced Work Class was included on the list. Several people came up to her and said how sorry they were that she was leaving. She seemed to enjoy telling them that she was not, in fact, leaving the Hernández. For now, the PI is at peace with the decision, waiting to see how she does with the same teachers that her dear brother had in fourth grade.  Aún cuando hay camino, ella hace su camino al andar.

True to form, the PI was traveling during this busy time of school transition. Don’t feel the least bit sorry for him. He had one job in Washington, DC and another at a gorgeous retreat center located on an old chicken farm on the eastern shore of  Chesapeake Bay. Since the latter was a staff retreat, some of the senior staff brought along their children, which was very nice. In a moment of inexplicable dementia, the PI decided that he was going to attempt a game of Ultimate Frisbee on a 95-degree evening. He hadn’t been playing for five minutes when–while attempting a dramatic long toss–he cast the disc right into the bridge of the nose of the youngest child present. That brought the game to a quick conclusion and left the PI wondering why he can’t get the message that he is no longer 25, or even 35…or even 55. The boy recovered quite quickly, but not so the PI. He’ll get another chance to show whether or not he’s listening when, in July, a friend leads a group of men on a trip up Mount Katahdin to celebrate his 50th birthday.


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