Report Card. How Do I Help?

But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike, and ’tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace.  ~Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1.2.1-3)

Kyle Christmas Eve 12-24-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle opening gifts on Christmas Eve 12/24/15

Kyle is such a stinker, and he’s driving me absolutely batty!  Granted his attitude has certainly taken a slightly uphill turn, but there are issues lurking in the shadows that everyone one seems to turn a blind eye to (except me), yet need addressed, immediately.  I am somewhat laughing over the details of the situation, even though it’s not really funny.  What now?  Kyle’s ninth grade second quarter report card.

Over the summer, we made a deal, if he brings up his math grade, then he wouldn’t need a tutor, one I paid for. A Dip in the Grades / Teenager vs. Aunt Heather – Part 1 Math Tutor.  Being the reasonable Aunt Heather that I am, I agreed, even though he moaned and complained about going, every time, and only gave half effort.  Whatever.

The moment of truth was revealed last Monday.  On a side note, I love how Kyle still tries to hide his report from me, like I can’t find out or perhaps I’m going to forget, not probable.  I don’t forget, and I won’t waiver when it comes to Kyle’s well-being.  The verdict?  His Geometry grade did come up slightly, as did his Biology.  Great!  That’s a step in the right direction.  It’s wasn’t by leaps and bounds, but I’m still happy and a deals a deal.

Now what’s the problem?  A few other subjects dropped.  When I told him to bring up those problematic subjects, I didn’t mean sacrifice the other subjects to do so.  My heart is truly broken.  Why?  The subjects that dropped, and I mean considerably, were US History II and Honors English I, two my favorite subjects.  First of all, history doesn’t change!  Read the material, memorize a few details and done.  It should be an easy grade.  Kyle loves reading, what could be so difficult?  When I asked Kyle about said subjects, he simply shrugged his shoulders.

How Kyle views his Aunt Heather Piper

Teenage years are a struggle for us all! Since I’m always fighting an uphill battle, this is what it feels like every time I need to discuss anything of importance with Kyle….

Honestly, I never took note that all of Kyle’s classes were honors classes, which I do give grace.  However, I will never accept below average.  I about fell out of my seat when I saw the English grade, especially when it originated from a solid B.

Even better, Kyle informed me he was getting a little extra help.  Obviously, that wasn’t working.  In a very calm yet confused voice I asked, “Kyle, why didn’t you call me for help?”  His response, “I don’t know.”  There was more to it than that, but my blog isn’t about pointing fingers and I don’t need additional family drama.  The gist of his explanation included a college degree, although not specialized in English or literature.  It’s true, I don’t have my masters degree, but I do have two undergrad degrees from Seton Hill University.  Not to mention, I write, that’s what I do.  I’m in marketing and I write, ad copy, television and radio scripts, press releases, articles, stories, testimonials, website copy, I ghost write blogs in addition to mine and the list goes on.  I’ve even written books!  Although, unbeknownst to Kyle (a surprise for later).  Wanting to find the root problem, Kyle informed me he’s required to write a lot of papers.  To prove my worthiness, I explained my qualifications and I even explained I was on the deans list.  I’m not just talking out my butt and making a claim I can’t back up.  If I don’t know something, I’ve always been honest with him, and I’ll gladly admit to it, hence the math tutor.   How frustrating!  What does that kid think I do all day?

With sincerity and confidence, I told Kyle I can help him get his grade back up by the next quarter.  I asked him to please call me with the next assignment.  Kyle’s response?  He shrugged his shoulders and clearly wasn’t about to ask me for help.  Why?  I have no idea.  Again, I believe there’s more issues lurking in those shadows that he’ll never admit, it’s called ego, pride and self-esteem, not on Kyle’s behalf.  Personally, if I was a teenager with an attitude, I’d want to see my aunt take the challenge, either to fall miserably to rub it in, or to assist me with my grade.  Either way, Kyle wins!  Not Kyle, he doesn’t want to succeed if it means I’m helping.  He should at least call my sister.  She may not be a creative writer, but she’s an excellent technical writer and elegant with the written word.

Kiski Band getting ready for Bands of America 2015 Aunt Heather Piper

This picture was online in the paper showing Kiski Band getting ready for Bands of America 2015

All his grades weren’t bad.  In fact, his Band and P.E. remained at an A+ status.  Times have changed, in elementary school, P.E. was Kyle’s only class he didn’t excel.  I even told him, “Kyle just look like you’re sweating and I bet you’ll get an A.  Run around and show a little effort.”  Since Kyle’s in the marching band, I would hope his Band grade would be nothing less than stellar.

I know all grades are important, especially keeping up his GPA for college, but I’m picking my battles with the Video Game Design I class.  It too dropped a letter grade.  I’ve asked Kyle what they’re working on, and he never did give me a real answer.  Perhaps, that’s why his grade dropped, due to a lack of attentiveness.  Moving on.

Now one class I’m in a little shock, yet I’m very proud of, a class his grade increased, Chinese I.  At one point in the conversation, I said something along the lines of, “Your English tanks, but your Chinese gets better?  How is that possible?”  I know I said it as a half joke.  I was a bit confused and yet astounded.  I’ll admit we both laughed over that revelation.  Come one, how can you not?  His native language is English, yet he’s improving in Chinese?  My guess?  He needs to work at it, and chose not to give up.

This past week I contacted his tutor, who is a great lady and I’d highly recommend her, to cancel our tutoring until the next report card.  She understood and was very kind about giving me requested advice.  She simply said Kyle has to want to bring up his grades and has to want to earn them.  She also stated the obvious, that he needs to mature.  Little does she know, we Piper’s mature late, ever.   She’s right on all accounts.  But how can I just sit back and accept this?  The answer.  I guess I need to do some heavy praying.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with who’s helping Kyle, as long as it’s working.  If not, then it’s time to consider another option.  It’s about what’s best for this young man.  I don’t care if Kyle chooses the family dog over my help, as long as it works.  I wish they’d give out grades for stubbornness and blasé behavior because Kyle would ace those every time.

Kyle during a band performance 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle getting ready for a Kiski Band performance on their home field. 10/23/15

I love Kyle so much, I want him to succeed at anything he does.  He’s already expressed an interest in going to Carnegie Mellon University for engineering and I want to see that come to fruition.  Perhaps the tutor is right, he needs to find his own path.  Of course, that doesn’t mean step back entirely, because he still needs guidance and help along the way.

Am I pushing too hard?  If you could see what I’ve seen, you wouldn’t think so.  When Kyle was around four or five, he could add up a few items at the store and figure out the tax before the register gave the total.  By that age, I got him a wooden puzzle of the United States.  He could tell the state by the shape, show where it was located, name the capital and give a fun fact about each.  No he’s really bright, he just needs encouraged by the right people.

This quote was not by happenstance.  Kyle was working on Romeo and Juliet this quarter during English class.  Basically, Lord Capulet comes to terms with his age and doesn’t want to be apart of the family feud any longer.  He remains a peacekeeper from here on out.  Not saying that I’m old, not in the slightest, but I’m saying perhaps I need to assist from the sidelines.

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

A Dip in the Grades

Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore,
And that’s what parents were created for.  ~Ogden Nash

Kyle-cousin-Cheyenne-2005-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with his cousin Cheyenne at Bethel Lutheran Church. This picture was taken for my Gram. 2005

Grades.  I remember report card time.  The stress of working your butt off to get the grade desired, or to be redeemed from a not-so-desirable past grade.  All the studying, and all the writing, and all the preparation, to be judged by The Report Card.  I do agree with this method of ranking a child in school.  It gives them good benchmarks and goals to work toward.  It’s also a way to see if a child is truly struggling and needs additional assistance, or if the teacher needs to be replaced.  Certainly, not a foolproof method, but one universally accepted.

I’m a little late on talking about Kyle’s grades, well considering he’s been hiding them from me, so I guess I’m not.  Kyle has been blowing me off when asked about his report card.  I should have known this was going to be a struggle, considering I never saw the second quarter grades.  Kyle’s response, “I don’t know what I did with it.”  I bugged him and bugged him, till I finally said, “Well, I’ll be looking for the next one.” meaning the third quarter.  I did manage to review that term, and yes the grades were already slowly slipping.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-Kunkle-Park-c.-2008

Me at Kunkle Park. My shirt says.. Don’t Mess With Me! Love that! c. 2008

Getting a hold of his third quarter report card, was a chore unto itself.  I remember my sister asking Kyle a very logical question, “Since you’re in advance math, maybe it’s getting too hard for you.”  Kyle’s response, “Umm, na, I was just slacking a little but I’m getting back on track.”  Keeping it real buddy!  I can work with that honesty, assuming he truly meant it.  However, I bet Kyle never realized that math is a subject that always builds upon itself, and continues to get harder and harder.  So if a critical step in the learning process is missed, putting it simply, you’re screwed.  The only way to catch up, is to go back and relearn or reiterate previous teachings to get back on track.

Apparently during this time, my sister called Kyle on the phone, and found out that he didn’t want to show me his report card because he dropped in two classes.  He knew I would ground him and get on his case to ensure his homework was done and done correctly.  Let me think on this… HECK YEAH!  Personally, it makes me happy to find out that Kyle is afraid to show me his slipped grades.  It proves that Kyle knows I mean business, and it also shows he’s aware of his wrongdoing.  He knows what’s expected.  He’s also treating me like an involved parent who cares.  I’m good with that!

Kyle-in-cave-in-West-Virginia-visiting-Casey-2007-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle in the Caverns of West Virginia, while visiting Casey. Kyle loves to learn! 2007

Good so far, except, this “fear” of me, which really means fear of not being able to play his video games.  It also means he basically lied to me, and then covered it up, AND tried to get sympathy from my parents, sister and other family members, like I’m wrong in this scenario.  Boy that kid is good, but I’m better!

Recently, I knew the final report card was out, and I had yet to see it.  Did I ask for it?  You bet I did!  And asked, and asked and asked.  Apparently, Kyle, “Didn’t know where it was.” and he “Wasn’t sure what his grades were.”  I heard it all.  I knew that was code for a slip in the grades, but to what extent, I had no idea.  Please keep in mind, I do give Kyle grace with respect to some classes, since he’s in advanced math and advance science.

Finally, I got my hands on his grades, not only the forth quarter but also the year long averages.   I now had an overview of all his grades and his progress during eighth grade.  I had two words, NOT HAPPY!  If he thinks he’s getting into Carnegie Mellon University for engineering with those grades, he has another thing coming.  He’d be lucky to get accepted to community college, and everyone gets into community college.

My-pap-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My pap. He only had a 5th grade education, only because he didn’t have the opportunity to reach his potential. Believe it or not, he was smart! He was also a very kind & goodhearted person.

What were his grades?  Let’s just say, he’s been playing way too many video games.  He went down in five classes, up in two, and maintained one-hundred percent in band.  The overall grades weren’t terrible, but not great either.  I won’t embarrass Kyle by calling anything out in particular, for the details are personal, just not acceptable.  I need to get a handle on this kid, and fast.  He’s way too smart to ruin his future because he’s being lazy.  And his manipulation toward adult figures in his life isn’t helping him out.  Sometimes I think I’m the only one seeing it.  Hence, why he’ll say he’s afraid of me.  He knows how to play the game to get everyone on his side and not be held accountable for his actions.  No joke, I think I’m the only one seeing the whole picture, and truly wanting to help this kid.  So, yes!  I will take away his video games and lazy time and replace it with homework and additional school work reinforcement.

How was Kyle punished?  I just found out he wasn’t.  He was talked to but really, NOTHING!  Literally nothing!  In fact, early this summer he went on a cruise with his Aunt Nikki, and now he’s on another vacation, and his birthday is this week.  He was never grounded, never had his video games taken away, nothing!  I don’t like to punish the kid either, but this is for his own future and for a good reason.  I care enough about Kyle to guide him in the right direction.  The last thing I want to see is Kyle trying to get into a college of his dreams, and be declined due to a lack of sufficient grades.  I think that’s just plain cruel and mean.  Especially, when this could have been avoided in the first place.

Kyle-bowling-2007-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle showing off his bowling skills… 2007

I want more for Kyle.  I want to see him succeed in life, and I’m not just talking about monetary value.  I’m talking about happiness, and being a good person with high moral standards, and basic intelligence.  I don’t want anyone to call him dumb or think he is, or worse, he thinks he is!  I don’t want him to have stress and disappointment, even though I know it’s inevitable.  I want him to fulfill his dreams and reach his goals.  Not guiding the kid in the right direction now, and not encouraging and holding him accountable for his actions, is not helping meet any of these.  In fact, it’s the easy way to parent, or lack of parenting.

First things first, I’ve been praying for my little man.  He needs it.  Next, I need to devise a plan of action to get Kyle back into the game.  Not an easy task, but again Kyle’s totally worth it.  Anyone have any ideas to assist Kyle bring up his grades for next year, specially with Algebra II?  He’s going into the ninth grade.

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Another Milestone – 7th Grade

Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era.  But what they overlook is that in America, every day is a new beginning, and every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends.  For this is the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.  Emerson was right:  America is the land of tomorrow.  ~Ronald Reagan

Kyles-First-Birthday-Aunt-Heather-Piper-helping-2002

Kyle’s 1st Birthday. Great milestone with me & pappy! 2002

Watching Kyle grow up and being an integral part of his life has been a delight.  I mean that with all sincerity.  Some milestones have been easier to take over others.  Example, when Kyle graduated from diapers to the potty.  Score!  That was time to celebrate!  However, this most recent milestone is bittersweet, the seventh grade.

Kyle is in the junior high school!  He is twelve and he is a preteen.  Where has the time gone?  In conjunction with this milestone, we also hit another, independence.  Yes, for the last couple of years Kyle has been showing baby steps towards maturing and showing subtle hints of  independence, but this one threw me off guard.  Every year since Kyle was in kindergarten, actually I think preschool, I have watched him get on the bus.  So naturally I thought this year will be no different.  To be honest, I thought this might be the last year, of course I believe I’ve said that about the previous year too.  Regardless, I was planning on hanging out with him early in the morning and seeing him off to the seventh grade.

Boy was I wrong!  I asked Kyle what time the bus was picking him up and what time I should be there.  He just kind of gave me an awkward grunt, the kind you do when you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings yet you’re not backing down of your plan of action.  He said, “Umm that’s ok Aunt Heather, I’m good.”  What?  That’s what I say to someone when I don’t want to say ‘no’ yet say ‘no’!  It was just used on me?

Kyle-at-Planinsek-Pavilion-1-2003-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My little man, trying out his new walking technique at the Planinsek Pavilion. 2003

Well, that was early on this past weekend.  I thought, surely he would think this through and change his mind.  Naturally, not letting the topic go, I said, “You sure buddy you don’t want me to be there to watch you on your first day of school?”  Then, I went into a dissertation of how his Aunt Nikki, his Gigi and me all paid for him to go to preschool for two years.  And how I’ve been a driving force for him and his grades, as well as my family, for all these years.  I also stated that it’s been tradition for me to be there to see him off for his first day of school.  I even tried to assure him that I would stand a side and not be an embarrassment.  He probably didn’t believe that, even though I meant it to the best of my ability.

Nope, Kyle would not budge.  All he replied was, “Umm that’s ok, I’m good.”  Yep, Kyle made a decision and was sticking to it.   That I can respect.  How can I not, when he is showing that he is maturing and wants to be responsible for himsel?.  Ok, buddy I get it, kinda.

But again let’s be real, I’m his Aunt Heather and the understanding is in the details.  I went down the checklist, “Who’s getting you up?”  Himself.  “Who’s seeing you onto the bus?”  Himself.  “Who’s getting you breakfast?”  He said that he can get something at the school, which I advised him to grab a banana, apple or make himself at least cereal to ensure he has something in his tummy.  That is the last thing he needs, to be hungry all the way till lunch!  Everyone knows that wouldn’t fly with me!  Not a good way to start off the day, skipping out on fueling up the body.  Kyle, being Kyle, also had to work out the details as to not break any rules or get in trouble with the breakfast situation.  He commented, “Ya I guess I can eat on the bus to school, I don’t think the bus driver cares.  I can just toss my peel out the window.  Or I can eat some of pappy’s ribs!”  That gave me a chuckle!  Only Kyle worries about such small details.  Helping to put his mind at ease, I said “Just pitch your peel in a trash can in school.  If you choose to eat the ribs that will help you go till lunch, not a bad idea!”  He thought about that and was fine with my advice.  Then the ultimate question, “Who’s planning out your outfit?”  Himself!  Now that scares me more than anything.  As much as I pride myself on my ability to dress cute, stylish and couture, Kyle does not have that knack nor does he care.  Even dad, who is strictly a jeans, under shirt and plaid shirt type of guy, always has his top tucked in, belt on and never dresses sloppy.  Kyle on the other hand, has a different style to himself all together.  One I have yet to fathom!

Maybe that will be Kyle’s next milestone.  Seriously, I can’t wait for that one!

Regardless, Kyle has a full schedule already, going into advance math, taking a language, hope it’s French, and whatever else the day brings.  I’m sure Kyle will have a great first day of school, after all he is equipped with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King book to keep him entertained throughout the downtime.  I hope to see many more milestones from Kyle!  He is a bright and caring young man with a future of possibilities.

Milestones have their place in life.  Even if they appear to be initially bad, there is always something good in them, a lesson or a pathway made for more milestones.  I guess I just need to be here to help him through any rocky paths and guide him in the right direction.  Love you buddy!  Enjoy seventh grade!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Denied! No Dance For You!

There’s things that happen in a person’s life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there’s no forgetting them.  ~John Boyne

Kyle-Folk-Festival-6-3-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Yep, that’s Kyle among a sea of kids, dancing around at his school’s Folk Festival. He was hiding from me after I busted a move to YMCA. Sometimes you just have to get it out. 6/3/13

It’s true, sometimes there are events and situations that occur, which can never be forgotten.  For those pessimists out there, I don’t believe these episodes are all bad and I believe any situation we encounter in life shapes us one way or another.  Heck, sometimes they are even really funny and will be brought up around the dinner table or campfire from time to time, just for a good laugh.  This is one of those stories, witnessed by many, remembered by me.

Yesterday was Kyle’s folk festival.  His very last assemble of elementary school!  Yes it was a bittersweet event.  In fact, Kyle, knowing I would want to see him and knowing that I would come, called me to remind me of the shindig.  He called me while I was meeting on the Chad Delier Scanlon Memorial Golf Outing. The Chad Delier Scanlon Story.  While I was confirming the date and time with my little man, this crazy thought popped in my head. The Heel Toe dance!

The Heel Toe dance is a dance, done every year during their Folk Festival after the students perform their required practiced square dance or line dance.  When they announce the Heel Toe dance, the students go running into the audience to select a parent, sometimes a teacher or a friend to partner-up with.  It always looked like so much fun!  As the memories of this dance come rushing into my head, the excitement was already building.  I mentioned the dance to Kyle, to plant the seed, as I do every year.  He just ignored me.  When I asked him again if I could dance with him, he just sort of laughed and then moved off of the subject before getting off the phone.

Kyle-&-Logan-School-6-3-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with his other friend Logan. Logan danced beside me at the schools Folk Festival, while Kyle ran… Surely he wasn’t embarrassed? 6/3/13

On a side note, I new nothing about the Folk Festival until Kyle called to remind me.  Thanks buddy!  It’s a good thing I’m working for Thrill of the Hunt, a division of The Piper Corporation or I wouldn’t be able to take off work, on such short notice.  Although I’m glad he included me!

Mom and I made our appearance, armed and ready to take video and pictures and to clap and cheer him on.  It was a nice cloudy day and the Folk Festival was held out in the school yard.  All the parents and onlookers circled the kids in the lawn chairs.

Slowly, the show moved along until we got to the long anticipated for, sixth graders!  At this point it was nice to see the kids do their square dance and to pull their loved ones out of the audience to dance the Heel Toe Dance, but my patience and interest was fading with every grade.  That is until Kyle and his class took center stage among the trampled down blades of grass.

Instead of a typical square dance, they did a line dance, which didn’t seem to amuse Kyle, at all!  He was barely moving through the motions and seemed annoyed at the assembly.  Keep in mind this was a child who called me a few days prior, excited to tell me about the festival and wanting me to be there.  Kids!

Then came the big moment I was waiting for, the Heel Toe Dance!  Yes!  After coming to all his assemblies and watching years worth of Folk Festivals, I wanted to be the one picked to dance the Heel Toe dance with Kyle!  I will confess, I sort of practiced it prior to, only from watching others perform it and paying attention.  I’m ready!

Naturally, as the kids move around gathering up their partners, it was pretty noisy.  I stood on the sidelines waving my hands yelling to get Kyle’s attention to show him where I was standing.  (Just in case he didn’t see me.)  Then mom chimed in and said, “Go up to him so he can see where you are.”  At that point, we both thought Kyle would dance with me, and let’s face it, I was excited!  So like an idiot, I went running across the lawn, in front of parents, teachers and the entire school of kids, with my arms flailing around as I was yelling “Kyle! Kyle!”

Just as I reached Kyle, in-the-nick-of-time before he chose someone, I wrapped my arms around him, startling the little package.  Granted, I know better, hugging him in front of the entire school was not accepted, but I couldn’t help myself.  Beside shooting me a big surprised look, he did give me one of his ornery grins.  Admittingly, I was sporting a huge smile on my overly energetic body.  I said, “Kyle are you going to let me dance with you?”  Like an idiot, I had it all planned out in my head, mom was on standby to take the video, and my dreams have finally come true.

Until he looked me square in the eye and said as a matter of factually, “No.” then he elbowed me to get away from him!  What?  Denied!  Are you kidding?  I was instantly removed from my fluffy dream of running through the green fields toward Kyle, only to end up spiraling down a black pit!  Did I take the wrong road?  Pick the wrong kid?

Nope, it was all true and was witnessed by some.  One being Kyle’s friend Luke’s mom, Sue.  Kyle picked his friend Logan, right in front of me!  Not knowing what to do next, I walked away with my head held low, in utter shock.  As I got to my mom all I could say was, “He told me no!”  Just then Sue busted out laughing.  Not that I can blame her.  I mean I looked pretty ridiculous running out there among the kids yelling, to only get turned down.

After the shock wore off, I found the humor in the entire situation, that I incidentally created for myself.  After all, Kyle never agreed to dance with me and there wasn’t anything in the rule books on the subject.  So, excepting the situation for what it was, I join Sue in the laughter.  By then, she was really busting a gut.  Of course, so was I when I did a play-by-play account of the last few minutes of my life, adding in the part when he elbowed me.  We were both dying!

This was a good story for the books!  No matter, if he wasn’t going to dance with me, I was going to make him.  Just to pay him back, as the entire class danced in the grass to YMCA, I got up and ran behind Kyle to bust a move.  He had no idea I was there until his friend pointed to me and Kyle turned around, with a mix of humor and horror on his face.  He did get a little red in the cheeks, but he couldn’t help laughing at me dancing and throwing my arms in the YMCA letters.

Putting this silliness aside, I am very proud of Kyle.  He just receive a letter from the school stating that after an evaluation of his work and test scores, he was going to move into advanced math next year.  Yep, so he will be a seventh grader taking ninth grade math!  I guess those flashcards I got him and worked with him when he was two, paid off.  Although that may have been a start, he always had the interest and intelligence to do math.  He worked hard for that accomplishment and it is all his.  Way to go buddy!  God Speed to you in junior high!

Maybe one day, the Heel Toe Dance will be mine!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Last Weekend Before School – 6th Grade

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.  ~Victor Hugo

Kyle-first-day-of-6th-grade-Aunt-Heather-Piper

First day of 6th grade…his fashion sense hasn’t gotten any better… 8/27/12

Kyle is officially in the sixth grade!  Wow!  I know to expect these milestones, but every year I’m taken off guard and it’s still a surprise.  This past weekend I kept reminding Kyle about school on Monday and I kept teasing him of all the homework. He kept grunting and giving me the look of ‘O No!”.

On Friday night we just hung out, kicking back, relaxing.  Kyle went to the grocery store with me to pick up a few items for dinner.  We finally agreed on steak, since we were having corn on the cob, cooked on the grill.  While at the grocery store, we ran  into my cousin Karen, coincidentally the one who gave us the corn from her garden.  Yep, Friday set the stage for the rest of the weekend, the theme of laid back.  Usually Friday’s are all rush, rush, rush till bedtime.  Nice change of pace.

Saturday morning we loaded up the truck with the pistol, Kyle’s .22 rifle and a couple of dad’s rifles and headed out to the shooting range.  Which reminds me, I need to get a new set of headphones like the ones dad and Kyle wear.  I don’t like the foamy ones that are placed in the ear.  I’d rather have my ears engulfed in padded protection.  Anyway Kyle mostly shot his .22 rifle at a target about 50 feet away, while dad was shooting at 100 yards, testing out the different mixtures he loaded in the bullets and the accuracy of the rifles.

My job, to keep an eye on Kyle.  There was another group of guys there who were shooting clay pigeons.  I had to make sure Kyle didn’t get in their way, stayed out of his pappy’s danger zone, and didn’t put anyone in danger through the reinforcement of proper rifle handling.  Shooting is fun, but it’s certainly an activity of responsibility.  I gave Kyle all the shooting time he wanted.  Dad hooked us up with a full box of .22 bullets.  Every once in a while, I would sneak in a few shots.  Kyle like to share his rifle and time behind the trigger. I think he enjoyed the togetherness of the activity, not to mention I think Kyle liked to see who was the better shot.  Plus it gave him a break, he’s not really die hard with anything except his marathon of playing video games.  He didn’t do too bad at all.  He shot standing free hand and sitting, but his favorite was using the sticks and sitting on a bench.  He hit some dead on!  Way to go buddy!

After a few hits to the target, I could tell Kyle was getting bored, so I got out the .22 pistol.  It’s a neat little pistol that I’ve shot countless times, one that I’ve always favored since I was little.  As I loaded the clip I showed Kyle where the safety was, how to line up the sights and how to load the chamber.  As I handed the pistol to Kyle, he almost leaned away from me, as if saying ‘I don’t know’.  Picking up on his body language I said, “Did you want to shoot the pistol first?”  With the beginning of an inquisition, he said, “Does it have a kick?”  I simply stopped him from going down his list of questions and debunked his anxiety by saying, “How about I’ll shoot this clip first and then if you want to take a turn you can, but you don’t have to.”  Happily he nodded his head and presumed his position behind me.

How did I do?  Well not very good free hand.  Actually, very disappointing.  Shooting off of the sticks or a support I’m alright, but shooting free hand was nothing to brag about.  Kyle was the same.  I guess we need serious practice.  After I shot in a clip of about eight or nine rounds, I think Kyle felt a little more comfortable with this foreign firearm.  You know I always forget, I’ve grown up around guns so there was never a fear of them.  In fact, I don’t remember the first time I shot.  I was little, in fact, thinking about it, there was never a time where I didn’t know how to shoot a gun.  As a family, we would go up on the ridge and target shoot pretty frequently with other family members and friends.  During that time,  I was able to see what each firearm sounded like and how it handled with the shooter.  That’s knowledge that Kyle has not really been privy to, at least not consistently.  I don’t think he has ever seen my dad clean the guns either.  When we were little, I used to complain about the smell that accompanied that action.  Now don’t get me wrong, being a part of the Piper household, by default Kyle has been exposed to firearms since we was born, the result of a hunting family.  However, Kyle’s exposure was not in the same way that me, Ryan and Nicole were.  Actually, I was always a decent shot.  Even to this day, I still enjoy shooting.  I wish I would have kept it up over the years, frequency means accuracy, but alas life gets in the way.  From what dad has told me, mom used to be a dead on shot.  She doesn’t really shoot anymore, but Nicole is getting back into it again.

Kyle-&-Pap-at-shooting-range-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with his pappy at the shooting range. 8/25/12

After a few hours at the shooting range we headed back to the house for lunch.  It was a hot one on Saturday, so the desire to be outside was not there.  Instead, we decided to plug in a couple of movies, Hunger Games and I Am Number Four.  Mom and dad didn’t like Hunger Games.  What?  How can that be?  Maybe they should have read the books first and then they would have understood the movies better.  I took Kyle to see that movie in the theater when it first came out.  Eventually he wants to read the books.

Sometime during admission, I ran to the Dairy Queen (DQ) to pick up some cold treats before retreating back to the cool insides of the house and starting the second movie.  Now that was my idea of a near perfect day, eating DQ, hanging out with the family, spending time with Kyle and watching movies!

Alas, now the day was escaping us and we waited till the evening to take the dogs for their weekly hike.  The entire way, Kyle talked about the movie I Am Number Four.  He wanted to see if there was a sequel.  He said, “They have to have another movie, so they can finish the story.  They have to find number five and seven, eight and nine.  They just can’t end it, we have to know what happened.”  I was cracking up.  I told him, “I don’t know buddy, maybe they will.  But if they didn’t make enough money on the first movie, then they probably won’t make a second.”  A little concerned over that comment he said, “They have to finish the story!  Did they find number five?”  While I was laughing, I said, “Honey, I don’t know.  I don’t even know how old the movie is.”  Not accepting that answer he asked me how I know about up coming movies like Iron Man 3 and Avengers 2?  “I know that because I read it online, different articles and news feeds.”  He couldn’t stand it that he didn’t know anything about a part two of I Am Number Four.  He even started to name the sequel, saying “I Am Number Four, two”  Naturally I started laughing just as Kyle realized what he said.  He then decided that since Aunt Nikki was the one who suggested the movie, she would have the skinny on the sequel.  He said, “I’m going to ask Aunt Nikki about it, I’ll have her look it up.  She would know.”  Kyle is too much, very persistent!

Kyle-at-shooting-range-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle shooting in his .22 rifle, we also shot in the .22 pistol 8/25/12

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful.  Church on Sunday morning and a lot of loafing around for the majority of the day.  It was another hot one, so Kyle and played with Seven, Scooby and Storm inside.  I was actually going to take him to the movies, but the idea didn’t hit me until it was too late.  Sunday was a perfect “nothing” day before Kyle had to be back to the responsibility of school.

Did I mention that Kyle was gathering loose change and counting it all weekend?  That kid, if he doesn’t become a banker then he might be missing his calling.  He also talked nonstop about this Lego chess set he saw online.  I think he thought since I have no issue with him playing chess, either online or the actual physical board game, which I actually encourage, he feels that it’s a shoe in for him getting the game for Christmas.  Yep, Kyle is already prepping for Christmas!  He kept searching different sites for different Lego chess sets and different price points to give me options.  Oh, it’s never a day with Kyle without at least the mention of Lego’s.

Yesterday morning I saw Kyle off for his first day of school.  I kept that tradition ever since he was in kindergarten and this year will conclude it.  Watching him grow up has been fun and helpful to my own personal growth.  He is going to like sixth grade, I just know it.  I called him last night to see how his day went.  He didn’t seem enthused, but I was probably interrupting cartoon watching, since I’m sure he was going through withdrawal.  Sixth grade, his last hooray before junior high…I have a feeling this year will fly by FAST!

 

Kyles-target-.22-rifle-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyles target… he started hitting the center the more he shot… even though the rifle was not shooting accurate as we later found out. 8/25/12

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Pets,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Proud to be Second

Grades are almost completely relative, in effect ranking students relative to others in their class. Thus extra achievement by one student not only raises his position, but in effect lowers the position of others.  ~James S. Coleman

1st-day-of-5th-grade-8-2011-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle's friends Logan & Seth on the first day of 5th grade. 8/2011

Not to long ago Kyle was all excited to tell me about his PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) tests.  Basically these are the state wide tests to show the adopted academic standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening and mathematics.  Evidently the class was taking them all week, or for the better part of the week.  As Kyle jumped into the car he was spouting out about these tests results saying, “Aunt Heather I was the only one out of all the students who missed only two on my math.  The only one!  Everyone else was a lot lower than me, I was the second highest.”  Well, me being me, I had to ask who beat him out of the premier spot and he responded, “A girl in the gifted math classes.  She missed one question and I was right behind her only missing two.”  I was ecstatic over hearing this good news and the joy that was radiating from his face was truly priceless.  I couldn’t help but soak it up.

Kyle is too much!  He loves math and he especially loves comparing himself to the gifted students, which makes me very happy.  If that’s where he sets his bar, then I will completely encourage him one hundred percent and I couldn’t be more proud.  What’s funny about Kyle, is he knows he can be the top dog with grades, but he doesn’t want to work for it and remains content where he stands, not that he’s standing in a bad position.  But like a good coach, I am always pushing Kyle to reach his potential and achieve new levels of accomplishments.  Of course, I had to reiterate this to Kyle as he gave me a smile and a look like ‘I knew you were going to say that’ and finally he spoke saying, “Ya I know, but that’s still good Aunt Heather, I only missed two on the entire math test, beating out EVERYONE except for that girl in the GIFTED class.”  Too much!  I loved hearing the pride in his voice and seeing the excitement of telling me.  He knows I don’t take grades lightly.  I have been working with Kyle on his schoolwork even before he was in school.

Kyles-Report-Card-4-2012-Aunt-Heather-PiperMath has always been his favorite subject.  When he was three years old, I purchased addition and subtraction flash cards for him, which everyone told me he was too young.  Too young my foot!  Once I showed him how to add he was a maniac.  Not to mention when I started to hand Kyle money to pay the cashier for items, and we started to give him money for work around the house to buy whatever he wanted, math became his best friend, well I should say money but that’s another topic.  Now subtraction took a little bit more work, but he loved numbers!  To this day, he still brags about his love for math and how good he is at the subject.  I’m glad Kyle found his ‘thing’ and has a subject to excel in.

A week ago Kyle brought home his third quarter report card.  Again, I was greeted with the most elated little man wearing the biggest smile ever!  I said, “It must be good.” Kyle proceeded to rattle off his grades to me as I was driving.  Now everyone knows I can barely focus on driving let alone comprehend the grading structure, and more importantly comparing his grades from last quarter.  Once I was able to sit down and really do a fair assessment of his progress, I was really pleased.  He joined me in the run down of all the classes, pointing to the grades and picking out the A’s.  Then I saw him starting to add up money in his head.  Not from me mind you, my sister pays the kid off for A’s.  That’s their arrangement and I stay out of it.  There are a few items I will be addressing from his report card, but overall Kyle has impressed me.

O and did I forget to mention, he had perfect attendance.  Yep, something else he should be proud of, which he most certainly is.

I would like to say that grades are not the end all to a child’s abilities and learning processes.  I understand there are many other factors that play a role in school and determining grades.  Unfortunately, until someone discovers the perfect method to suit every child’s way of learning, standardized grades seem to be the way of benchmarking what is taught.  However, I am also aware that what’s taught and what’s learned are completely different.  Hence, why I like to pull out previously reviewed information and reiterate the contents.  Sometimes with my Mr. Math pro, it’s as basic as addition flash cards, bringing him back to his roots.

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Power of Reasoning

All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.  ~Blaise Pascal

Nicole Piper and Kyle - Aunt Heather Piper

Nicole helping Kyle with his newest toys

Sometimes Kyle has a way of justifying a situation for the better, or should I say with his best interest in mind.  I’ll give Kyle credit, he is always thinking and sometimes the justification of his logic is brilliant.  Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s just plain silly or far fetched, but every once in a while he throws good logic at me and my family and we can’t really combat his reasoning.

Ready for the examples?  There are those little comments, such as his desire to go to the store to pick up bananas because he wants to make pudding with bananas.  He’ll say, “Aunt Heather, you said bananas are good for me.”  Or when he really wants to play the Wii and he wants me to play with him, he’ll say, “Aunt Heather, you always want me to get exercise and you said playing the Wii is good exercise.  Don’t you want me to get exercise?”  Or my favorite, “Aunt Heather, you said building Legos is educational and good for my mind.  You want me to learn don’t you?”  I usually hear something along those lines when he wants a new Lego set.  So tell me, how can you argue with him?

We tend to make a lot of deals with Kyle, a.k.a. bribe him.  But as long as it’s for his well-being I don’t have a problem with the ‘deals’.  My sister told Kyle that for every ‘A’ and Outstanding he receives on his report card, she would give him money.  The money is his to spend as he desires.  This past Friday, Kyle received his quarterly report card.  I must say, not to shabby.

Kyles first quad - Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle on his 1st quad, running over what used to be his sandbox...

Let me set the stage.  Kyle was excited about his report card, not because of a sense of self accomplishment but for the shopping he gets to do. Either way, I’m proud of him for getting to this point.  When I had the opportunity to review the report card, I noticed he did go down in three grades.  Two were not bad, but his Science took quite a leap from 96 to 87.  That’s an entire letter grade, no matter what scale the school grades on, which the grade on the 100 – 92 is an ‘A’, that’s not good.  Now don’t get me wrong, he went up in three grades too.  So just when I was about to comment on the report card, ready to praise and to address, Kyle stopped me and said, “Ya Aunt Heather, I know a couple grades went down, but a couple went up too.”  I couldn’t help but point out his math grade, which has never been a disappointment, went from a 96 to 92.  Kyle’s response, “Ya but it’s still an ‘A’.” Little stinker, he’s right, but what really blew me away was Kyle’s over logic over the report card.

You see Kyle proceeded to tell me that on an average he only went down by seven points overall,  “Which is really good Aunt Heather.”  So basically Kyle added up all his points from the second quarter and added up the points from the first quarter and compared the two.  He’s right, it didn’t seem so bad, not that his report card was bad at all, but it seemed as if there was no major difference between quarters, as opposed to reviewing each letter individually.  Again I know he did all the calculations to help strengthen his story, but I had to admire his logic and thinking on the subject.

Now the best part of this report card logic: I scanned Kyle’s report card and emailed it to my sister with Kyle’s links to online items he wanted my sister to purchase for him.  Now mind you, the toys he chose added up to exactly how much he was expecting to get for his grades.  Well, when my sister reviewed the email and the cost of the toys, she called him to inform him he went over on his dollar amount.  Kyle was baffled!  He knew he added up the prices correctly, that is until his Aunt Nikki dropped a big bomb on his plans.  She was counting the shipping and handling and the taxes as part of the total.  Kyle was assuming she would pick up that part of the tab.  You see, we are always trying to keep Kyle within reality and taxes and such expenses are a part of life.

Kyle Piper on his 3rd birthday

Kyle's 3rd birthday

Now comes the reasoning and logic, again.  Kyle got on the phone with his Aunt Nikki and began to argue his case, saying it wasn’t fair that he had to pay the shipping and handling and the taxes.  I’m going to paraphrase, since I only heard Kyle’s side of the phone call, but I can imagine what my sister was saying.  He went on saying it was like he was being punished if she used his money for such expenses.  He was stomping around the house saying it wasn’t fair and what is he supposed to do?  He really stressed the idea of how good he did and how much he is being punished if he is expected to pick-up part of the bill with his earned money.

Well, needless to say, the conversation went on for a good 45 minutes or so.  Eventually the discussion came to a compromise.  He gave in saying he would forfeit Surge the Bionicle and his Aunt Nikki was going to mail him Black Phantom and Rocka.  Sure sounds reasonable.  I’m not sure how much Kyle really gave in, or should I say how much extra my sister was paying out.  But I’ve said it and I will always say it, Kyle owns us, but again we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Especially since he makes us so proud!

Kyle Piper's report card - Aunt Heather

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments
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