Friday, April 19, 2013

Extra Chair

Life gives us very curious challenges. I'm sure you have noticed. There's no time of life, even in the womb, that does not deal out a fistful of challenges.

The latest challenge here at "The Gods Are Bored" has been sparked by Mr. Johnson's decision to take a small severance option from his company, which is basically the Titanic anyway. We don't want to downsize, however, because Mr. J needs our home property. He has a convenient and necessary home office within. Heir has a lair at the very top of the stair, where she lives without care. So there. We're trying to hold on, using creative financing.

In that regard, Fate threw us a boarder. She is an exchange student named Extra Chair. She moved in last Saturday.

Extra Chair has the cheerfulness and energy of Tigger. She does not walk. She bounces. She sings. Her happiness level is supernatural. And as an only child, she is absolutely smitten with Heir and Spare. Imagine suddenly having two sisters, just a little bit older than you!

Extra Chair attends the local parochial school, wearing her Buddhist bracelet with her Catholic girl uniform. She sets off every day through our yard full of lawn gnomes and faerie cairns.

Last night, Extra Chair asked me to look at her English essay. I was dismayed. It seemed way too short and under-developed. I queried her several times: Are you sure this is enough to satisfy your teacher? And she assured me it was. This is not a slacker student, so I am now intensely curious about the grade she will receive on this little theme.

If her grade is an "A" or a "B," it is total vindication of my Camden public school, where three-quarters of the students receive free breakfast and lunch, and all are learning trades. Because if she turned it in to me, I would fling it back in her lap and tell her to write more, much more ... and then I would show her how.

For a number of years, the students in my school have been passing the state-mandated standardized English tests with ease. Last year, 92 percent of our kids got proficient grades on the first crack at the exam, and the rest made it through in second rounds.

Extra Chair's theme might be a clue as to our students' abilities, because I'm here to tell you that it wouldn't pass muster in my public vocational school. Not for the grammar, which is easily fixed (her English is pretty good), but for the content.

You know that the move is on to privatize education, and the battle is being led by the parochial schools, which are clinging to solvency by their fingernails. But if conscientious student Extra Chair can be used as an example, I would say that we public school teachers are rockin'. Maybe we actually work harder than you would be led to believe.

Extra Chair is working on her pronunciation of "faerie." And she is learning quickly (and hopefully painlessly) to steer clear of Decibel the parrot.

For updates on the tragic explosion in West, Texas -- by our valient heroine on the scene -- hop on over to Yellowdog Granny. Have some tissue handy.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Extra Chair sounds delightful! And now you get to be a secret agent with access to the parochial school system . . . Johnson, Anne Johnson.


extra chair sounds adorable..and does she know how lucky she is to have your family be her family?