Monday, March 3, 2014

The Good Old Days

Last Saturday Harrison and I got together to discuss our February picks for our Mommy and Me Book Club.
This month I chose Wonder by R.J. Palacio for Harrison to read.  I loved this book about a young boy with a severely deformed face beginning middle school.  The story is told from the perspectives of the boy (August), his sister, and his friends.  It's touching, funny, and well-written.  Harrison said he was surprised by how much he liked it.  It was interesting to hear which parts made a big impression on him.  This is a fantastic book to read together with your fifth grader.

Harrison chose The Giver by Lois Lowry for me to read.  This was Harrison's favorite book he read last year and he couldn't wait to talk about it.  It's a Newbery Medal winner and one of those classic books that they make you read in school that somehow I never got around to reading.  It's the story of a young boy in a dystopian world where everything is perfect and everything is under control.  No one has any choices or feels any real pain or joy.  (You know, Satan's plan.)  Everyone in the community is assigned a role when they turn 12 and the main character, Jonas, is given the role of "Receiver."  He is to be the receiver of all of the memories of the community before "sameness" was implemented.  Guess who gives the memories to Jonas?  That's right: The Giver.

I thought this book was fantastic.  There were a few intense and disturbing scenes and if Harrison had not already read it, I would have been hesitant to recommend it to him until he turned 12.  So, use your best judgment, parents.

What I loved about both of these books is that they dealt with that bittersweet age right between childhood and the teenage years.  Harrison is in 5th grade and all his friends will be moving on to middle school next year.  (In Arizona, sixth grade is elementary school.)  He's at the age when the boys and girls are starting to pair off and playing with lightsabers is no longer awesome.  He's eager to grow up and enjoy more freedom, but has no idea what responsibilities lie ahead.  I loved reading about that time of life that I have worked so hard to forget.  I'm hoping it will help me be more empathetic as Harrison's world keeps changing.

Harrison has been playing basketball with the local Catholic league for the past three years.  We've had so much fun watching these boys grow up and cheering them on.  Harrison, especially, has shown incredible improvement.  The first thing he does when he gets home from school is go shoot hoops.

[It went in!]  His first year on the team, he didn't score once.  The second year, he scored once.  This year, he's scored multiple points in most of his games.  Growing a few inches probably helped, but Jeff likes to give credit to the NBA video game they play together.  Whatevs.  The season ended last week and I'm already sad that we won't get to watch these boys grow up.

Last week Harrison participated in a cup stacking tournament.  Yes, that's a thing.  It's harder than it looks, but not so hard that we ought to be having tournaments and giving kids medals for it.  Oh, the sad, sad state of our physical education system!  Harrison didn't win any medals, but he took it well.  There were a lot of sad kindergartners who went home disappointed.  It was funny to watch them and realize that Harrison totally would have cried about it if he had gone home empty handed as a kindergartner.  I love that he's growing older and wiser.  And it's probably okay if he's not an amazing cup stacker.  He's got plenty of other things going for him.

4 Wisecracks:

Amy Maxwell said...

Great post, Melissa! I can't believe he'll be 11 this year. I always want to give my middle school self a huge hug and tell her it will all be ok and she will be/is amazing when I read my journals from that time. I'd never thought about having to relive that period with my own kids. The book club is a great idea! I'm sure you'll be a great guide for him through any tough adolescent times.

Amy Maxwell said...

PS I love Harrison! Jeff does too :)

Chelsea Dyreng said...

Wow, that is a blessing that 6th grade is still part of elementary school in AZ. I feel like I am sending S & S to the wolves next year in middle school. It sure would be nice to have one extra year of innocence.

Patti said...

One of the best parts of parenting is seeing the growth in my children, and now my grandchildren. I'm really happy that Harrison is doing so well. The Giver is one of my favorite books. I'll have to read Wonder now.