Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Once, lo these many moons ago, I wrote an article about factors to consider if your child is considering skipping a grade. It got published on the internet, and there it has stayed, and as a result, I get e-mail every month or so asking how someone can skip a grade. Most of these e-mails are painful in one direction or the other. The one I got yesterday -- most of what I get, in fact -- was from a kid who either couldn't spell, gram, and punctuate, or who decided that e-mail was no place for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It managed to meander in two short paragraphs. It convinced me that the writer did not need to skip the 10th grade and in fact might be better off with some of the 6th grade over again. (I am a snobbish and horrible person.) I wish I could just have an automatic bounce to any e-mail whose message was "I am flunking all of my classes and I just don't get this; how can I skip a grade to get out of school faster?"

I sympathize with the urge to get out of there. Realio trulio, nobody sympathizes with it more than I do. And I think that vocational education is highly undervalued in our culture, and that people are being sent to college as a one-way ticket to the middle class rather than out of either love of learning or intent to use that learning. But. If someone wants to get out of high school without being able to read for comprehension or write a coherent letter to ask for help in a matter of some personal importance, I don't see why I should help them do it with a diploma. There are too many people helping in that process already. I look at these e-mails from kids and just get so sad, because they're already so far behind I have doubts that they'll ever catch up, and so many people have let them down so far that I hate not being able to help. But I can't, not these specific kids, not as a voice over an e-mail.

The ones who break my heart the other way are worse, though, and they're the ones who remind me of myself at that age. They're the ones who really deserve to get out and need to get out. You can get broken flinging yourself against the bars of a cage that hard. I was a combination of lucky and skillful to emerge as close to unscathed as I did. For those kids, I write long e-mails suggesting things they can do if they can't manage to escape, ways to keep their sanity through the whole process. It tears at me not to be able to do more, but I know I can't. I wish them luck. I wish them the best. I assure them that it will get better, because, oh, did it ever, and sometimes people really need to hear it.

I have a series of time travel dreams. In them, I'm with various people in my life in their past. (Most recently it was dd_b and pameladean. It's been all kinds of friends and family members in the past. It's been a long series of dreams.) I'm not supposed to tell them what happens to them in the future in any kind of detail, and I'm always stuck for what to say in those circumstances. Towards the end of the most recent one, I pulled away from hugging Pamela-in-her-late-20s goodbye and held onto her shoulders and said, "It won't always be great, and it won't always be what you want, but there's good stuff in it like you wouldn't believe." And I think that's what I believe about life in general, deep down. I just know how hard it is to convince myself some days, and I despair of making any headway with anyone else, much less kids I don't know who e-mail me looking for hope.

In other news, I got several books at Uncle Hugo's with Grandpa Lyzenga's Calvinist Hanukkah gelt and still have some leftover for hair jewelry or earrings or something else. timprov and I went a-wandering. It was good. Oh, and I had ordered a fountain pen because truepenny and matociquala are wretched beastly people and linked here. And because Karalee had just sent me a bunch of ink when my old Waterman went missing. So I got a new Waterman on sale, and it came today, along with a calendar of fountain pen pr0n. Seriously, these are like the pin-up girls of the fountain pen world. The one for my birth month is gorgeous, just glorious, and it could be mine for a mere $995. (There is no decimal point missing in that price.) This is wholly unreasonable, but oh, so pretty. Also I discovered that the Rotring ink cartridges Karalee thought would fit in my Waterman will not fit in my Waterman. I think the clear solution here is for me to get a Rotring or some other equivalently sized pen. Does anyone know which cartridges go in which pens?

My Gritter Christmas pictures should be up here and here. The latter link is pictures from the Como Park Conservatory, so fans of War for the Oaks might want to see what it's like there this time of year even if you aren't Gritter fans. I will gladly take all and sundry to the Conservatory, possibly not all at once, but in small groups. Love the Conservatory. So lovely. Mine. I turned in the disposable digital camera today and should have the CD Friday or Saturday, so Lingen family Christmas pictures will follow, in case you care.

I'm going to read another of porphyrin's books now, so that I can be frustratingly close to done with it when I see her next but can't actually give it back. Isn't that how this works? It has the last three or four times, anyway....
Tags: dad said to learn something, family, kids these days
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