On the advice of L.'s doctor, L. is getting a series of re-evaluations and educational testing done--mainly to get a better sense of where he is now academically and emotionally, so we can make the best choices possible for him as we transition to middle school. The last time he had testing and evaluations done he was 6 years old, and 6 year olds and ten year olds are VERY different. Maybe we grownups don't change so much in four years, but four years can make a huge difference in a child's development.
Anyway, L. has been less-than-thrilled about it all--as he is with anything even remotely school-related. Scott took him to the first round of testing, and I took him to the second appointment yesterday. Since I can't drive until after the weekend, we had to get everyone up on a holiday morning, and load everyone up in the van. Scott dropped us off at the door and took T. for doughnuts. I tried to explain to L. that getting the testing done is a way for him to showcase his strengths and talents--that it will help us make the best choices with him and for him, as we move into this next big step in his life. Very little L. has ever done at school can possibly capture the staggering powers of his mental processes and just how much he is capable of doing. We hardly ever get the chance to celebrate his abilities at school, or to even share in what he's doing, the way we do with T., who comes home bursting with news about what she's working on at school, and who sits down willingly with me each afternoon to tackle her homework.
I sat in the dark room on Wednesday, on the other side of the one-way mirror, and felt filled with a swelling of pride that almost overcame me. I thought back to how conflicted and sad I felt the first time we went through testing and evaluations. I listened in and second-guessed everything. I saw and heard only what I feared the psychologist was seeing and hearing--the "wrong" answers, the answers that set him apart, or placed him on the fringes of "the norm" (whatever that is). I tried to imagine how his answers might fit in with a diagnosis, and what that would be, and how I would feel about it. I was proud of him even then--of course I was--but we were still feeling our way through the dark, still trying to understand what was going on with him, trying to make sense of this new landscape.
Now I see thing so differently, and we know so much more. Scott and I both see the testing as something good, and positive--a chance to sit back and enjoy and celebrate this rare peek into the inner workings of L.'s mind, L.'s world; a chance to soak up his personality and smile at his sarcastic humor and his way of approaching questions; to have the quiet time and space to just focus on our son.
In this short segment L. was supposed to write down and try to spell correctly a particular word out of each sentence. The instructions, however, didn't stop him from inserting his own observations and comments, like this:
Dr.: "In the last century, is was popular for people to travel by horse and carriage--"
L.: "No it wasn't popular in the last century. That was the century BEFORE this last one."
Dr.: "An apostrophe indicates missing letters--"
L.: "Well it can also indicate owning something, too."
Dr.: "Jane imagined all the colorful and bright fish that lived in the deepest part of the ocean--"
L.: "There's no way Jane could even SEE colors and bright fish at the bottom of the ocean since technically it's pitch dark down there."
Dr.: "John lives 1.4 miles from school. He eats lunch at school every day. How many miles does--"
L., slapping his forehead in dismay with his hand: "I feel sorry for John having to eat lunch at school."
I hope the testing doctor really appreciated L. and was as blown away by his answers as I was. I know I'm biased, but I think he's an all-around pretty breath-taking, pretty amazing kid.