Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I just got an email from Michael's science tutor that contained the following sentence:
I enjoy working one on one with him as he is motivated to learn and so polite! He is making progress and building confidence with physics concepts.

Polite? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he's mostly smart-alecky! Then, coincidentally, I got another email today from his math tutor that says:
He is very attentive and has a great work ethic during our time together. It is wonderful to see his progress, and his enthusiasm for learning is admirable.

Very attentive? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he mostly turns a blank look at us and/or loosens a dufus-ish "Whaaa...?" when we say something.

I'm particularly proud of his math progress as I had to home-school him innit when he first arrived. Believe Moi, I am not the logical candidate for teaching anyone about math (she says with deep apologies breathed out to the universe for all the waiters and cab drivers she under-tipped in the past due to the inability to multiply whole numbers with percentages; that she over-tipped others for the same reason is undoubtedly not a consolation). Anyway, here's Michael's latest math test result--a solid B+ did all on his own!

Oh, last but not least, I then got an email from his English/Humanities tutor with the following:
He has a great attitude and seems to be enjoying the topic. Onward and upward!

Great attitude? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he's been engaging in that ye olde Classic teen irritant known as ... rolling one's eyes.

We as parents are happy to spring for tutoring for Michael, and so far the results have been worthwhile. But the one class for which I'd love for Michael to get tutoring isn't available -- that'd be the class for how to engage one's parents in a way where said parents don't feel


Sigh. I suppose I should be pleased Michael doesn't treat his teachers the way he treats us. Anyway, here's the happy Michael with family friend and soccer-pal Yorum on left and hubby on right.

I am learning that to be a teen parent means not only at times getting the left-overs of your kid's attention but making the "Rabbit Ears" hand motion frequently in display of childish humor as we descend to his level. Already, the last few conversations the hubby and I had with each other, we both responded the same way to each other's shared gems of wisdom: with blank looks and a "Whaaaa...?"


You never really know the full history of an older child you might adopt. You can learn things over time, but you may never know the full story. Over time, we are learning more bits & pieces about Michael's past. For example, for a high school application he had to write an essay about something that inspired him. What did he choose? He chose the story of Colombian-born American cardiovascular surgeon Harold Fernandez.

Michael had read the NYTimes article about Dr. Fernandez who had come to the U.S. illegally as an 13-year-old to join his family. Like Michael, he arrived without knowing English. Reading Michael's essay, I learned how Dr. Fernandez had to struggle long and hard to be able to attend Princeton and later Harvard Medical School. And I read how much Michael took his story to heart -- how, despite the difficulties, he never gave up on his studies or his goals.

And I also read how Michael apparently had always wanted to get an education. How, unlike many who were around him in his early past, he desperately wanted to learn. It's interesting that, for now, he doesn't actually have a career aspiration -- but he just wants to be schooled. Once, his ambition was to attend a four-year-college. When he learned that I and the hubby both have Masters' Degrees, he immediately said he wants one too. He doesn't have a job in mind -- he just seems to feel this deep hunger for education for education's sake.

That's fine and delightful for us. We certainly see no need for him to choose a career this early. But we do feel lucky that he has his priorities correct about education. For this blessing that he presents to us, we are more than willing (well, usually more than willing) to ignore his rolling eyes. It helps that I've learned to respond to his smart-aleckiness with a blank look and a "Whaaaa...?"

That's the secret to successful teen parenting: ye olde blank look! No tutoring required here! I master it more and more each day.

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