Nectarine is one of those kids that just captures your heart. He did mine, at least, in a relatively short amount of time. He is smart and sweet and shy and I'm going to say it, I'm just going to say it -- despite the fact that I think there are great schools out there and wonderful teachers out there -- he's the kind of kid that schools can eat alive. He doesn't fit any molds. He is not the boy that teachers expect, like the ones with attitude and an air of toughness, snottiness even, about them. Mind you, this is not my stereotype -- but one I have heard all too often as people bandy about impressions of Junior High School-aged students.
Poor Junior-High School-aged students. First of all, somebody went and made up the term ''tween" for them, completely obliterating any hope they might have of acquiring their own identity, separate from those of "little kids" and "teenagers". Secondly, the only term left then, the one I previously used, describes them solely as they are cattle-pronged into schools: Junior-High Schoolers (which isn't even altogether true, considering the age range represented in junior high and middle schools).
I interrupt this paragraph to announce that heretofore, I shall refer to those children in the age range of 10 through 12 as "fantasticals".
I return to our regularly scheduled paragraph.
Finally, fantasticals, despite their brand new, extra-special, perfectly descriptive moniker, get such a bad rap. When I was a pastor I absolutely adored teaching confirmation to fantasticals. I was repeatedly and ruthlessly chided for this -- by my colleagues, by parishioners, sometimes even by their own parents (Shame on them!). Many told me that I would change my tune when I had fantasticals of my own.
Well, I do. I have one full-fledged fantastical and one who is quickly approaching the station and, I have to say, I absolutely love having my very own fantasticals. They are conversant and funny and smart and independent and we really enjoy each other (Don't tell all those baby lovers out there, but I am enjoying this age even more than the so-called "cute" baby age -- and yes -- that might be because all three of mine showed up within 11 months of each other and I was perpetually exhausted and covered in somebody else's bodily fluids -- but I think it has more to do with the fact that fantasticals exude awesomeness).
But I digress.
We are hoping Nectarine will join us this summer, two days a week, and then we'll consider whether or not fall is an option. While this is certain to alter our dynamic, it will also shake things up in a good way (Did I mention how fantastic this particular fantastical is?). Sure, it will mean more work for me, but I appreciate a little shake in my step. I can predict with a fair amount of certainty that we will all share some struggles, but I tend to think we all learn from adversity.
Of course, you can check with me again in the fall to see how we all feel. Nectarine might be ready to jump ship. I might write a whole new manifesto, replacing fantasticals with some seedy new word fecund with acerbity. Or I might be ready to bottle their very essence -- minus the inevitable odor (I love fantasticals, but I am realistic about their potential pungency) -- in an effort to keep them at these ages forever.
We'll just have to wait and see.
|clipart from sportscaption.com|