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High Note

"I was focused today," Quinn proudly told me as he walked out of the Tae Kwon Do studio. I was late, as I usually am on the days I attempt to make it to his classes. Bryce's hour-long class was to follow, and so I scooped Quinn's hand into mine and ushered him to the car so we could have some one-on-one time. On the way home he volunteered information about his experience at his school's summer day camp today: "At first I was pouting in a corner when dad dropped me off, saying, 'I don't want to be here' but then I started doing stuff, and then did more stuff, and BAM! it was over, and I was glad I went!"

"Wow, that's the best possible way the day could have gone!" I said, enthusiastically enough to be genuine, but not so enthusiastic that he would react with the embarrassed, self-conscious, teenager-like pouting he wields like a weapon. "I know," he said cheerily, looking out the window from his booster seat, the milestone seat that the kids begged me for while I waited for their small frames to hit 40 pounds for so much longer than they felt was reasonable. I non-chalantly broached the subject of his classmates; the week before, in fact what became the very reason for his pouting in the corner this morning, some of his classmates engaged in playground pettiness and I wanted to address it without upsetting him. "Mason was there, and Olivia was there, and Olivia found an egg with a chick inside, and I painted a shark, and I told Mrs. S that I didn't want to do the math because it would pass all my time, and she said, 'that's for tomorrow' which was really funny!" He didn't mention the playground girls that had knocked over his sand castle the week before, so I could only assume they're not in his class this week.

When we got home I suggested we walk the dog until John got home, and Quinn wanted to ride his bike, the activity that can practically guarantee red-faced grunting and frustration within a maximum of four minutes. I didn't let on that I thought it would be a problem, and he maneuvered it outside and managed to ride several wobbly feet, several wobbly times. It was hot, and we were tired, so we ended on a high note and came inside, where he promptly told Truman to sit, and Truman did. "WOW, Quinn," I said, "you really ARE having a good day!" He was beaming, and therefore happily took a bath and picked out stories, which he read to me, pronouncing Hound "Holgund" and Something "Smurgen" only repeating patiently when when I offered the correct pronunciations, and at the end, saying triumphantly, "Wow, I'm really good at this!" From a kid who has recently told us we don't like him, we like Bryce better, and he's not good at anything, this was a huge relief to hear. I came home intending to spend time with him and carve out a conversation about his recent negative self-sabotaging statements because it's become enough of a concern that I didn't want to ignore it any longer. But look at that, he found his groove, at least for today.

During our walk / attempt at a bike ride, I did actually touch on the subject I'd been thining about, and I told him I loved him because of who HE was, and nobody else was like him. I brought it back up before his bath while he sat next to me as I ate a quick dinner, and he finished my thought for me, saying, "and you also love Bryce for who HE is, and I love YOU for anybody else!" which was his Quinnglish version of "I love you for who YOU are because you're not like anybody else," his mistaken vocabulary summing up one of the very things I do love about that kid -- the way he sees and says the world. He gets it. He's getting it. He's getting math, and reading, and art, and friendship, and life, despite my neverending concerns. In fact, his statements, incorrectly worded or not, so often contain profound layers. I mean, is this not what I'll be saying when I'm 80? "At first I stood in a corner and said, 'I don't want to be here' and then I started doing stuff and BAM! it was over, and I was glad I went."