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December 2005
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February 2006

Frenetic Kinetic

You’ve probably heard about learning modalities. Simply put, it means that people absorb information best through different pathways. Some people need to see things to understand them, others need to hear them. Tre is what’s called a kinesthetic learner. “Kinesthetic” is from the Latin for “wearies his mother half to death with the moving and fidgeting and leaping.”

When Tre was four years old we participated in a research study. This required Tre to undergo a developmental screening. For the first portion of the test, I answered questions about Tre’s behavior. While I sat on the couch with the woman administering the test, Tre sat at the table, coloring. Midway through her questions, the woman looked over at him, bent over his crayons, and sighed.

“Look at how well he concentrates. My son could NEVER sit still that long.” She nodded at me sadly. “He has ADD, you know.” I nodded back, trying to look sympathetic, and NOT like I won at having the best kid.

When we were done with our section of the screening, the woman asked Tre to come sit down with her on the couch. She proceeded to ask him questions for about 45 minutes. He listened and answered carefully (scoring, I might add humbly, WAY ABOVE his age in math and reasoning skills). But as they talked, his legs started to move. They bounced against the couch cushion, then one ankle flipped up over the leg of the couch. Soon the other ankle followed it, and Tre was sitting sideways on the couch. He continued the interview with the utmost serious devotion, as his legs continued their journey up, over the back of the couch. Soon he was sitting with his feet planted on the wall, his head dangling toward the floor. The woman squinted at him and pointed at her picture.

“Which of these do you use to make breakfast?”

“That one. The waffle iron,” he replied, poking his finger at the picture. She flipped to the next page. His grubby feet patpatpatted the wall. She turned to give me a meaningful look.

“Well,” she murmured in an aside, “I guess we can’t always RULE OUT ADD right away, now can we?”

I was stunned – STUNNED. Were we looking at the same child? Was she observing my very own upside down son, who was attending with all his considerable brain power from his bat-like vantage point? Did she see THAT BOY, who was totally smoking the median six year old with his reasoning ability? HE WAS CONCENTRATING JUST FINE, he just happened to be MOVING A LOT WHILST HE DID IT.

I finished the interview with a very superior feeling. SHE, after all, simply DID NOT UNDERSTAND my son and his learning modality. I, on the other hand, DID, and could appreciate him for the special, capable boy he is.

Now at this point, six years later, I could still be sitting here, sniffing haughtily at the memory, IF ONLY I hadn’t snapped at my dear kinesthetic son about twelve bazillion times in the last half decade, “COULD YOU JUST HOLD STILL?” I know, I KNOW he needs to move to process information, yet in my deepest animal brain I can’t understand how he can READ and WIGGLE so much. When I’m sitting next to him, trying to explain a math concept to him and he’s listening and at the same time rolling a wad of silly putty up and down and up and down and up and down his arm, well. I wish for him to have a fulfilling educational experience, but first I wish to remove his HEAD, GOOD LORD, JUST HOLD STILL FOR A MINUTE SO I CAN THINK.

Kira=not so much a kinesthetic learner.

However, I am proud to say I did REACH OUT to my son in his frenetic kinetic-ness. I got him an exercise ball to sit on while he does school. The theory behind this is that the myriad little movements necessary to keep him seated on the ball would be a good outlet for his need for movement. And you know what? It works! He loves the ball! He sits happily on it, perched on his knees, bouncing and wobbling and concentrating just fine. I have to avert my eyes and do my Lamaze breathing, but HEY, the ball isn’t for me, right?

The problem is HOW MUCH he loves the ball. The ball has become his constant companion, his best friend. It bounces down the hall ahead of him, rolls around under his feet while he sits and reads, perches on his shoulder as he trots down the stairs. The ball is driving me nuts. I actually warned Tre that if THAT BALL came in the kitchen one more time while I was trying to cook dinner, I would ATTACK IT WITH MY KITCHEN SHEARS.

No really. I said that.

Kira=not so patient a mother as she’d like to be.

Tre bounces on, gleefully enjoying his rubbery purple sidekick (he also manages to keep it out of the kitchen while I’m cooking – CLEAR evidence that the constant motion is a boon to his listening skills). And I try really hard to at least APPEAR to be fine with all the MOVING and the BOUNDING and the ROLLING, because otherwise how am I going to feel superior to the test-taking woman?

So he twirls and moves and moves and moves and I am reminded again how fascinating and odd and inconveniently wonderful kids are.

Home Work

I spent New Year’s Eve day with Clay, working on our house.

Heh. Our house. *grin*

Anyhow, we spent the day removing popcorn from the ceilings. Now, up until this point I have not had any sort of an opinion on the subject of popcorn ceilings. It’s just how most ceilings come, you know? And yes, it’s annoying when cobwebs gather in the corners of the walls and the duster, instead of sweeping them away, presses them into the bumps and divots of the popcorn. It just never occurred to me it could be anything different. So when Clay insisted he preferred popcorn-free ceilings, I shrugged and agreed. I was pleased to find a project at the house I could actually help with. Framing walls in the basement? I was no use there. Cutting through the concrete to make a hole for the new window in the basement? Not so much. Removing the old shower stall and installing the new, gorgeous deep bathtub? Useless to help, unless you count climbing into the newly positioned tub, imagining how deep the water will be, and struggling mightily to keep my clothes on. Rrrrowlll.

Where was I? Ah yes, popcorn – a project I could actually help with! Yay me! I arrived bright and early Saturday morning (10 AM), ratty jeans and t-shirt on, ready for the task at hand. Truth be told, I was a little nervous. I don’t mind doing odd jobs around the house, I even consider myself fairly handy. But Clay is the real deal when it comes to home improvement. He wires things and builds things and owns tools that I don’t even know the name for. I didn’t want to get in his way.

A large part of the job was getting ready for the job. Everything had to be removed from the rooms we were working on or covered in plastic. I set to taping down yards of slippery plastic on the floor while Clay took down light fixtures and the like. Eventually we moved onto the actual popcorn removal.

We sprayed the ceiling with warm water, then scraped off the popcorn with large flat blades. When it was wet enough, the stuff came off in large, satisfying sheets. When it’s scraped free, it feels like paper mache, and it rained down on our hair, our clothes, our ladders, everything. We talked and talked and sometimes I would laugh until I had to lean over, elbows on the ladder, feeling the metal lines and soft, damp lumps of ceiling popcorn under my skin

We not only enjoyed ourselves, we were an efficient team. Even with a break for lunch, it was soon over, and we folded up the protective sheets and stuffed the heavy wads of plastic and popcorn into trash cans. I flicked dust out of my hair and off my shoulders for a few minutes before giving it up as a hopeless cause. Nothing short of a long, hot shower would help. Clay slid an arm around my dusty waist and looked our work with a smile of satisfaction.

“See? Doesn’t that look better?”

I leaned against him and admired the ceiling, a wide, smooth expanse of future stretching out above us in all directions.

It was beautiful.