Friday, 27 June 2014

Class Act

School's almost over. I've managed to pull myself together from crying and shivering in the corner, in order to write this entry. Who knows when I'll have time again? September? This is like the moment when the Campbellian Hero is about to cross the threshold, descend into the underworld, brave the jungle, go down the river, step into the Cantina on Tatooine etc. to test himself with madness and see how he comes out the other end.

As it is almost the end of the school year, the kids are not apparently doing much learning and so I thought I'd drop by my eldest (almost 12 year's old) son's class to give a little talk. I arranged with his teacher to talk about comic books/graphic novels since I have written a few of those and the subject matter was one that had a slight chance of keeping their interest for a half hour. There was also a (not) small part of me that thought this might increase his status in his peer's eyes ("What? Your dad makes comics? Cool!), not to mention, my own in his eyes.

I prepared a rudimentary Power Point presentation and ran it by my son. He sniffed, "It's OK  - too much text." My middle son (9) looked on and suggested I add a snazzy design. My youngest one (7) talked excitedly about the one he had created in class this week (which did sound more sophisticated than the one I had just prepared) and he offered to show me how to import some clip art to jazz it up. Humpf. So far my attempts at impressing anyone were not going so well.

I showed up in the classroom yesterday while the kids were in the library and set up while chatting with the teacher. The sound of stampeding tweens let me know that they approached. As they barrelled through the door a number of them surprisingly asked/demanded:

"Can you really do a one-armed pushup?"

"Uh... I can. That's not why I'm here."

"Come on, show us!"

I looked in the teacher - WTF? He returned my look of bafflement.

At this point a number of them dropped to the floor and tried it. They ended up on their faces. I made some positional suggestions.

The teacher tried to regain control. "Alright, settle down, you guys."

"Maybe if the presentation doesn't go well, I could always drop and do one."

I didn't end up needing to do the push up as things went reasonably well. The highlight (for me) was when one of the kids asked if I have ever worked with my son (referred to as "Sweeney" by his classmate, classic) who is a gifted artist. I replied that we had talked about collaborating some day. My son grinned, pleased and embarrassed as an appreciative murmur of "cool!" circulated. That was pretty awesome.

Trying to revisit that moment later that day, when we were coming back from buying ice cream, I asked him about what he thought of the presentation.

"Yeah, it was OK, good." - Yeesh

He told me that the other kids had to research me before I showed up. Suddenly things clicked. I remembered I had mischievously put under my LinkedIn Skills profile - "Can juggle and do one-armed push-ups, but not simultaneously".

He said kids had shouted out in class, "Sweeney, can your dad really do a one-armed push-up?"

"Uh, I don't know..."

"It says here he can."

"Well, I guess you know more about my dad than I do."

I laughed. Then he asked me, deliberately in an off-hand manner, "Can you?"

"What? Yes!" I responded surprised/offended.

Shortly after we got home I proved my stuff with a respectable series of one-armed push-ups as he and my other boys gathered around (with a slight misgiving I might end up on my face in the dirt).

That impressed them a lot more than my power pint presentation, I can tell you.

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