Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Boy in the Body


Merrick still cannot read.

The Matron has chewed on this cud before.

Around the house, her joke has been "Merrick can't read but he can slide down the stairs in his footie pajamas." She should really film that. On his belly, a straight shot down some pretty steep (carpeted) stairs. Hy-ster-i-cal!

Yesterday, the Matron had this heady intellectual exchange with her son, who had spent the morning playing with a stick. You know, the kind that fall off trees.

Matron: "Merrick, would you like a friend to come over and do something really fun, like going to the playground or ice cream shop?"

Merrick: "No thank you. I'm playing with my stick."

And he did. For hours to the tune of the Matron's lament: "He can't read but he's playing with a stick."

You see, the Matron would want young Merrick to be arranging his sticks into some kind of algebraic equation or roman numeral outline for the novel he might be intuiting. But the Matron has recently come to understand just how fully BODY is her boy.

History Lesson 101

Merrick is 3 and Uncle Norm--father to two accomplished athletes-- visits and throws Merrick a ball. Half an hour of drills later, Norm says: "You should pick a sport and hire a personal trainer. This is like raw genius, that boy."

Merrick is 3 and takes like a fish to water. Swimming instructor: "You should really get him involved in a team or something. He's just good in the water."

Merrick is 4 and takes to T-Ball. Only he never needs the T and the coaches pitch to him. Coach: "You should really start training him as a pitcher. Set up a target and let him start hitting."

Merrick is 5 and shoots hoops with a neighbor. Neighbor: "Where is Merrick learning to shoot hoops? Is there a team or training? That kid can dribble."

Merrick is 6 and plays hockey in a Kindergarten League. Hockey Instructor: "Merrick basically put on those skate and pelted out there to score. You must've taught him to skate before, right? At least he's been practicing with a puck?"

Merrick is 6 and takes tennis lessons. Teacher: "I have never seen hand-eye coordination like that in 25 years of teaching. Tennis and golf. Get him swinging."

History Lesson, Complete

The Matron? Slow learner.

Thanks to a friend's wise counsel, the Matron finally fully appreciates how Merrick's gifts (and brains!) are in his body. It only took her three years to see this because she is of the sort who strikes out right before falling off the balance beam and hitting herself on the face with the tennis racket.

Not only did she assume that her offspring would follow in her disembodied direction, so unaccostumed to the realm of All Things Athletic is she, that she honestly did quite know this Realm for the Athlete existed until -- oh, about two days ago.

This is where her youngest child lives.

She needs to learn its rules--the way the athletically inclined think, read, play, compete, grow, etc. She plans to toss her child in and let him go. She'll follow in whatever sport he lands (if he even picks one or two or twenty).

At the wildly enthusiastic invitation of his tennis instructor, Merrick plays in his first competition next Saturday. He picked up a racket for the first time in June.

The prodigy is currently occupied and unable to entertain guests or questions. He is busy with a rock and a big pile of dirt (thankfully outside with Satan's Familiar). That should take him straight through Friday.


kmkat said...

I remember my husband, the psych nurse, telling me there are something like six kinds of intelligence, only one of which is what we traditionally think of as intelligence. The only others I remember are physical (what Merrick has in spades) and musical. So what I am saying is that your boy is probably a genius in his own way, the way that Olympic athletes are.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't seen this one already it's worth a look (and sticking through to the end.)

- SL, frequent reader, first time commenter

Memarie Lane said...

Max is six and still doesn't read either. He knows how, he just won't do it. I almost wept with joy today when he pointed at a sign and said, "Mommy, that says 'ice'!" My three year old however reads and is a mathematical genius. But Max has different strong points too. Merrick is an athlete, Max is an artist. I just wish that artistry extended to language.

As per the previous anonymous poster, FYI, my son is homeschooled, has never seen the inside of a classroom. School can be plenty bad, which is why we don't utilize it, but with some kids -probably gifted ones especially- it can be really tough to find the right approach. I've tried about a thousand approaches with my son. But if he was in school, just imagine: he'd be getting shuffled through the system and left behind, because the teacher has the other 29 kids to think about too.

Minnesota Matron said...

Wow -- thank you for that link, anonymous! I had chills and was overcome by fear. Every time I see something like this, I think I should be homeschooling. And school is rough on Merrick -- I love the story of the dancer!!! I had goose bumps.

Miss Grace said...

Merrick is lovely. But you know that.

Lynda said...

Good lesson for us all, Mom :)

Wenderina said...

Gifts are unique. And after just LOVING the Wimbledon men's finals...ain't such a bad thing to aim for an athletic child, is it?

Suburban Correspondent said...

You'll also find that the more you let him move and use that body, the sooner the other parts of his brain will click into place. Somehow the physical movement teaches them how to read, no joke!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

The words will come when they come. I bet he'll be terrific--most athletically gifted folks have gifts in those areas, too.

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday —

Daisy said...

Merrick is a highly kinesthetic learner. Wow. Does he dance? He and Scarlett could tour together.

Heather said...

It's lovely how we all have our special talents. I can't wait to hear how he blossoms with his talents.

justhay said...

I'd rather hang out with sticks than people most of the time too.

~annie said...

My daughter was about 8 before reading really clicked for her. I remember a little boy in her Kindergarten class. He could not seem to "write" his letters. Until you gave him some chalk and sent him to the playground. He needed SPACE and ROOM TO MOVE and there they were! Merrick will read eventually.