I want to take today to celebrate my son, Zac.
He’s a good kid. Sometimes, he and I butt heads. It’s a first-born vs. first-born type of thing. Now that he’s growing up, not as much as we used to. He’s learning to “do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14-15). I still need to learn that!
Zac is a bright kid. He learned to read at 4 years old. Even as a toddler, he was desperately hungry to know the names of things. He would point things out and try to say what we called them. I remember holding him in my arms, going from room to room at my mom’s old house on 25th St. He jabbed a stubby index finger at the ceiling fans in each room.
“Fa! Fa fa fa fa!” he would exult. He knew he had the first letter right. I drew pictures of clocks, fans and bicycles, over and over. I got pretty good at it, too. Clock was “ca”. The vacuum and broom were “ba di ba”. Which makes me think of this song…
Guess you had to be there. I have a latent Take 6 fetish. Ask my old suitemates from Bethany. And the one who kidnapped my teddy bear.
He enrolled in private school as a kindergartener when he was still 4. No public school would take him without extensive testing and psychological evaluation. Translation: hundreds of dollars. I thought, What?! You’re gonna penalize a smart kid? So we spent our money on Clark county Christian School, now defunct, in Vancouver, WA. They did a couple of tests and found he was even smarter than we thought. Take that, Portland Public Schools!
He did well. He adored his teacher, who hated boys. Whatever. I disliked her tremendously but tried to keep it from Zac. The best thing that happened that year is that He gave his heart to Jesus. His attitude about it? “Well, of course Mom! Why wouldn’t I?” He had homework every day and a new fundraiser every week. Jump-Rope-A-Thon! Hotdog Eating Contest! Auction! Carnival! It got so I simply recycled all those pieces of paper, grumbling about entire forests being decimated.
Over the years, we’ve home-schooled and public-schooled Zac. He is now exclusively public schooled. He is not challenged in his regular subjects except Algebra, and reminds us of this on a regular basis. He asks to be home-schooled again at least once a month. Mommy does not even want to attempt it. She knows that Zac is learning study skills, taking notes and doing homework, that simply would not be learned as well at home. Especially with Mommy as judge, jury and executioner. He has access to PE and band, too.
Zac has a perfectionist streak. As do I. When we did homeschool for first, third and fourth grades, he would crumple up his paper in frustration if he didn’t’ do an exercise perfectly the first time. Handwriting was a huge chore. I tried to let him know this was learning, not hand grenades. You get to do it again. He loved science – still does – and excelled at that. Mommy? Not so much. She felt like she landed on another planet every time she opened the science textbook.
Zac has a great sense of humor. For years, though, his intensity has been his dominating feature. He’s starting to laugh a little more, find the humor in life. He and Ruby have some goofy times together. He also has great empathy for littler kids. It’s a beautiful thing. He helps Ruby with her video game gaffes and sometimes even plays alongside her. Does he do art with her? No. Let’s be realistic. He’s still a boy.
In addition, Zac really shines at debate. From his earliest conversations, when he wasn’t asking why the sky was blue and who everyone’s name was everywhere we went (Zac: Who is that? Me: I don’t know. Zac: Why don’t you know? Don’t you know everybody? Me: Uh…) He has a curious mind. But he also loves to argue. Loves it! I don’t. It frustrates me. I have learned to agree to disagree, but that’s not the same thing.
Yesterday, he didn’t feel well. At least once a week I hear he’s got an upset stomach or a sore throat or possibly running a fever. I take it in stride, humor him a little and we take his temperature. He took it himself yesterday. He was fine.
As we got into the car on the way to school, he sighed.
“Guess I have to give my presentation today, ” he said resignedly.
I asked him what it was about. Turns out they were debating a court case in his history class. He said there is a man in Texas named Theodore (not the infamous northwest native Ted Bundy, but another, less heinous Theodore) who is appealing his life without parole sentence. Ted is arguing that it’s unconstitutional. Two of classmates think Teddy is right. Zac was the lone opposition.
We talked about it. The thing with Zac is that you forget you’re talking to a thirteen-year-old. He has an extensive vocabulary and a sure grasp of the political system and some of how lawmaking works. It interests him, the machinery. He doesn’t think the Texas “three strikes” law is bad. He doesn’t think it’s a states’ rights issue, either. He cited other cases where the law was upheld. Zac has a strong sense of justice and if you do the crime, you should do the time.
“Did Ted show any remorse? Did he ever admit that he assaulted and killed that man?” Ted, at the time, was only fourteen years old. He was tried as an adult. You can mature a lot during a life sentence, I would think. I thought this might tip the jury in his favor.
“Not to my knowledge”, he said.
I figured Ted didn’t have a prayer. And neither did Zac’s opponents, it turns out. He won!
I am proud of him. He has a great future, and I look forward to seeing it manifest.