My Son, the Next David Plouffe

– Posted in: Autism Recovery, Bright Side of Life, Elfie, Homework, Nevada, Newt, Newt's Story, Personal Insanity, School

One thing I love about our kids’ school is that because they’re a charter, they can do crazy assignments whenever something interesting comes up. The other day, my son, Newt, came home looking like he’d won the lottery because his teacher had signed him up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you’re an adult, you try to write a novel, 50,000 words, in one month. For kids, the amount is flexible. Newt is already in the middle of his novel (I won’t, you know, give the story completely away, but it involves aliens, ninjas, zombies, and monsters of various sorts), and his teacher — instead of squashing him by forcing him to do the normal class writing — is encouraging the whole project.

Seriously, how cool is that?

Anyway, every year, the the kids do a Nevada Day report. Last year, Elfie dressed up as Sarah Winnemucca and Newt dressed like a Hoover Dam worker. This year, because of the elections, the teachers had the older kids do a “Best Nevadan” project. Apparently the kids were doing a lot of arguing over the presidential race and almost coming to blows, so they decided to channel their energy elsewhere (which cracks me up because when I was nine, I didn’t give a damn who the president was).

The kids could create a campaign, make a fan club, or write a debate-type speech. Newt chose Kit Carson and put a campaign together. I’m not going to lie. The boy is a pain-in-the-ass, but once he gets going on something, he’s amazing. Getting him going is the hard part…

I think I discussed the nuts and bolts of a campaign once? Twice? Thrice? On the last try he finally “heard” me and started working on it. Clearly something sank in because the boy absolutely kicked ass.

He came up with bright, easy to read posters with a funny cartoon drawing of Kit Carson that played to his base. He took advantage of the western vernacular: “Vote Fer Kit Carson.” He had a slogan that wrapped up the message: “The Best Explorer in the West.” And then he made enough stickers for every person in the class.

On the day of his presentation, he dressed in his suit jacket and tie. He delivered his speech — which was chock full of exciting and amusing anecdotes about Kit, including how his feet were as tough as a Hobbit’s and how he could shoot stuff from one-and-a-half football fields away (again, playing to the base). And he waited until AFTER he had everyone hooked and excited to hand out his stickers instead of trying to push them on them before his spiel.

The boy blows my mind. Apparently he was a little fireball during his presentation. And when he came home, we analyzed the tactics of a bunch of the other kids. It was like I was working…

I just need to mention here that this is a kid who we were afraid would never speak to people. Who would maybe be able to function in normal society if we were lucky. Who we assumed would be some computer dude who collected comic books and rare lizards (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).

Anyway, low and behold, Kit Carson won. He won the “primary election” in his class. Now he has to go up against the winners from two other classes in the general (on Tuesday — election day, of course). The whole class is now dedicated to creating a publicity campaign, making a commercial, and doing research (which, get this, includes mud slinging).

And maybe I’m biased (of course I’m biased), but I don’t think anyone will be a better campaign manager for Kit than Newt was. When the “national party” takes over, things always get screwed up. I’m sure this will be no different.

But I couldn’t be prouder. And more frightened. As happy as I am that the kids love watching John Stewart (and even occassionally Lawrence O’Donnell), the last place I’d ever want either of them to end up would be in politics (she said, as she got ready to go off and bust her ass on the Obama campaign).

Fighting the good fight is important. And noble. And necessary.

But I wouldn’t wish that life on the people I like least in the world, let alone the ones I love the most.


10 Comments… add one

carol the long winded November 3, 2012, 11:19 pm

In p’s class they did most important person in the world. P was of course Tesla. He came in 2nd to….MOTHER JONES!

Tammy November 3, 2012, 11:33 pm

I don’t know who did the presentation for Mother Jones, but how awesome is it that she won?

Ginger November 4, 2012, 6:01 am

How awesome he is! When I taught middle school, I had a mock election between King Thutmose III and Nefertiti…The kids are amazing in their creativity when you give them the bones and allow them to explore. Of course you should def. pat yourself on the back too for being a fantastic Mom.
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Tammy November 7, 2012, 10:47 pm

Of course YOU would do something cool like that in your class. Because you’re the bomb.

Kelly DeBie November 4, 2012, 11:53 am

What an awesome school!!! Are you just completely blown away by how stinking adorable he is??? I know I am.
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Tammy November 7, 2012, 10:47 pm

He is pretty stinking adorable. But like I said, I’m biased.

Rebecca Grace November 4, 2012, 12:06 pm

How exciting for Newt! Will you consider sharing his “novel” when he finishes it? Based on what you told us about his story, I know I have two little boys who would be VERY eager readers. 😉 My kids are twice exceptional and we’ve been very pleased with their charter school as well. It’s so refreshing for a school to try to meet the CHILD’S needs, instead of trying to force all the children to march along to the same drummer!
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Tammy November 7, 2012, 10:51 pm

Knowing him, we’ll at least have to make multiple printings. Were you around for the Valentine’s Day fiasco? Anyway, it’s so easy now with all the different self-publishing stuff. At least I think it is. I still have to try that…

I’m glad you guys have found a good school. It’s so hard to find the right fit.

Judy November 5, 2012, 6:49 am

I am so proud of him and his school. Isn’t it wonderful for children to have the chance to explore their interests and learn so much at the same time? How is the novel coming? You may have a famous writer or genius on your hands! Of course you know how much I love charter schools–keep us posted on the next competition with the other classes. Judy

Tammy November 7, 2012, 10:53 pm

I know how much you love charter schools. And Montessori! I’m sure if Newt ends up famous, you’ll be one of the first to know.;)

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