Jack was never a fan of school. Worksheets were busy work with math questions he’d get right but marked down because he didn’t show-his-work. He’d get scolded for not taking enough time as evidenced in his handwriting but in my opinion there was never enough practice with simple penmanship to make writing by hand comfortable and connected to thought. They had a ‘unit’ on cursive which flew by in a couple of weeks just before moving to computers. But thank God ‘kids these days’ are at least taught how to type with fingers in the right place and using both thumbs for spacing so they can fly fly fly. Of course the thumbs get trained enough with QWERTY from texting.
I remember the dark rainy day I was driving Jack to school when he said from the back seat: ‘So, the deal is we go to school for a lot of years, five days a week, we have some weeks off in the summer, then go to more school at college, then go to work?’ Well, yeah, I guess he nailed it. But what he really nailed was his in-the-gut feeling of loss of freedom, but I’m guessing. I probably replied with something like “later on you get to choose your own classes” or somesuch and I know I was always preaching to Jack and Cora to “find work you love”. But I’m pretty sure my answers were kind of like ‘don’t worry, there will be three meals a day in solitary’. He also got the lecture about how fortunate he is to even be able to go to school, yadayadayada, but true…
He’s a science guy, in college now studying chemical engineering and in honors college, but he also knows his gut. Back when he noticed that the week of school was going to last into years he must have not only put thought into this but also feeling. Around then he told me too that the days had colors. Monday was dark dark red-purple, Tuesday blue, Wednesday was yellow-orange, Thursday was dark brown, Friday green and the weekends not an important color, but something light. I told him that all I wanted for Christmas was a painting of those colored days.
The trick for him, for me, is always trying to do that listening, whether it turns into synesthesia of any sort; one sense giving form to another like his days of the weeks turning into colors, or whether it just helps to name a gut-feeling that translates into new words. Then maybe it’s possible to climb out and look around, move onto the next question, shape it and color it.