This is a non-quilting post. Don’t worry – I’ll write words about sewing tomorrow.
Last week my son’s history teacher sent home an essay assignment for me. We have made it to Sophomore year in high school, my son is in honors, and I thought I was finished. Wrong. Mr. Wishart wants an essay of 1,000,000 words or less about my son.
My first inclination was to write 1,000,000 words about my son. Unfortunately, I tap out around the 1,200 mark. I love him, but really, I have other stuff to do! I did illustrate it, though. And since I spent so much time writing, here it is. Enjoy!
James Wait-for-it Strauser
The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect on the glory that is James, whom I made from scratch, with a little help from my husband.
The details of James’ childhood are quite inconsequential.
Very well, where do I begin? His father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. His mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. His father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.
His childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When he was insolent he was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 he received his first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved his testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it’s breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
—–Thank you, Dr. Evil, for the inspiration.—-
James’ father is actually a video game producer. I am a quilter and general pain in the behind. James is our second child. Several years after making the first, we realized we are amazing at making children. We decided that two Strausers would be better than one – James arrived not long after.
He wasn’t completely finished when he was born. Baby making is a complicated job. He needed some speech therapy to learn how to nurse, then surgery, then more speech therapy, and some occupational therapy. He didn’t learn to talk until he was 3. His first word was “asshole.” Totally my fault. He has more than made up for lost time.
As a toddler James enjoyed jumping off of everything. His brother’s bunk bed, sofas, the jungle gym at the park. With a skull diameter in the 95th percentile, gravity caused him to frequently land on his face. He has had cat scans, x-rays, casts, and so many stitches. If you get close enough, you can see that James has many, many scars on his face. I’m sure I’m on a child abuse list somewhere.
Upon entering the school system, James demonstrated an eagerness to bite people other than his brother and touchy old ladies in the supermarket. (Don’t try to pinch his cheek.) We broke the biting habit in 1st grade, but only because he learned that punching doesn’t taste as bad.
The punching was typically a once a year occurrence. Someone would pick on James or one of his friends too long, and James would snap. It was never more than one blow, but it was enough to get the harassment to stop. That finally stopped in middle school.
One day in third grade, we were driving past a church. James noticed a playground. He asked me if a playground at a church is called a prayground. That was when we learned he has grandfather humor. He is also quite dry – he drops some great zingers with a completely straight face.
Academics have been relatively easy for James. He is an eager learner. He does have some trouble with handwriting. I believe it is written up in his IEP. He has dysgraphia, which means his writing is mostly illegible and very slow. Note taking can be a challenge for him. I do think it is getting better, but the computer has been very helpful. The only times he has really struggled with school have been we relocated. Unfortunately, that has happened a lot.
James was born in Florida, and thrived there through third grade. We relocated to California for my husband’s job for fourth grade. That was a little bumpy, but James figured it out after a quarter. We spent a year exploring the San Francisco Bay area and learning about Spanish missions.
One year in California was enough, so then it was on to Austin, Texas. James did very well there. He studied trampoline, won some medals. He was perfecting his back flip when he broke his ankle, thus ending his competitive trampoline career.
We moved to New Jersey at the start of 8th grade. Academic standards in Texas are significantly different than in New Jersey. His 8th grade English teacher got him enrolled in a special needs program. He caught up quickly and is doing fine now.
James is initially a quiet guy. New people get one word answers or grunts. Once you get to know him, watch out, because he is a talker. He is quite clever and loves to use creative logic to win arguments. I’m sorry about that – I tried to always win arguments with him, but rather than teaching him to be submissive, he is just fricken amazing at arguing. He is happy to keep going until you just surrender from sheer exhaustion. His argument stamina is no joke.
Homework can be a challenge with James. He likes the idea of being organized, but is a natural procrastinator. He is impervious to nagging. He does well with checkpoints on large projects. The larger the project, the more likely he is to do it the night before.
Justice is very important to James. He loves knowing rules and what is expected of him. If you establish rules, please enforce them universally. His kindergarten teacher called him “her little soldier.” If he gets busted for something that other people get away with he will be outraged.
James is growing very quickly recently. He is all long bones and hair. I believe the hair is his rebellious phase. I’m happy to deal with this level of rebellion. Also, with no daughters, I’m enjoying finally being able to play beauty parlor.
After school James enjoys video gaming, playing with his wiener, and parkour. (I have been instructed to inform you that his wiener is a miniature dachshund named Oscar. James doesn’t always appreciate my constant wiener jokes.) He can jump onto and/or over just about anything thanks to parkour classes.
James moved up to all honors classes this year, so he may initially struggle with the assignments. He was frustrated with the caliber of his peers last year. He is hoping for a year with classmates who are more focused on doing well in school. It is entirely possible that he might not understand what you are looking for in initial assignments if they are significantly different than what he was doing last year. He will get there, though.
I am happy to help with homework assignments when needed, although, obviously, I’m not thrilled with the concept. I did high school once already, and I’m on to other things now. James is a lot of fun to spend time with, but homework is mostly dull. History was never my strongest suit, although I have come to appreciate it more as an adult. I have tried to express to him my newfound understanding of why history matters. I’m not sure if it was necessary – he is definitely smarter than I was at his age.
Enjoy your year with my precious boy!