Will Jupiter Be On The Test?

A week or so back, Sean and I were driving home from somewhere just as the sun was setting and the moon was as big and orange as I have ever seen in my entire life.  It was such a wondrous sight, that I pulled the car over to gaze upon it.

“Wowee Sean!” I exclaimed. “Look at the moon!  That is awesome!”

We rolled back the moon roof and looked up at this giant golden orb that seemed to hang just above our heads and threatened to drop right into the car.

Sean, although impressed, was not as astonished at its magnificence in the same ignorantly blissful manner as I.

“Mom,” he said, “The reason the moon is so orange right now is because of Jupiter.”


“Yes. The moon, as you know, does not generate light on its own but reflects it off nearby planets.  Jupiter is orange and it is close to the moon right now, and that is why the moon looks so big and orange.”

“Yeah.  Sure.  Of course I knew that. Who doesn’t know THAT?”

“How old are you anyway?  Aren’t you supposed to be, like, seven?”

So then, yesterday, when the school sent home a letter saying that if Sean missed any more school this semester a “review” committee might determine that he can’t graduate 1st grade, I laughed out loud.

Yes,  I laughed loud and long.  Right after I smoothed all my ruffled feathers back into place.

28 thoughts on “Will Jupiter Be On The Test?

  1. We received that same type of letter when my son attended 6th grade. He had massive health issues and was spending days at UCLA being tested. I explained all of this to his four teachers and the principal. A note was placed in his file. The letter still arrived but it did not come from the school. It came from the DA office and included all the penal codes of which we, the parents, could be charged! It was ridiculous. My son eventually had surgery that year and the district took him out of school and put him in their ‘hospital’ school program – which was a joke! He didn’t learn anything! But, the school district got their money so no letter was sent again. I wanted to write them to notify the school district that their ‘hospital’ school should be penalized!

    * * *
    Crikey, what a lot of grief. On top of everything else you were going through. Hope your boy is all better now.


  2. my son and I sat on the couch and listened to the robo call together. He missed three days this week, I notified teacher each time, and it did feel pretty accusatory. If nothing else, I think the moment will stick with him and reduce skipping – his eyes were like saucers LOL

    I’m glad you’re writing more. We take the same approach to our home/school times. Our greatest concerns have followed from inequities, the well-supported kids seeming to get all the good opportunities. Will be watching to see how Sean is making sense of our world 🙂


  3. I have to agree with you. I truly was impressed that he knew those two facts and by his synthesis of them into an original thought. My 9-year-old, given the same facts, didn’t come up with anything so plausible. I know exactly how you feel in your enjoyment of your son’s curiosity and determination to figure out the world. Whenever my son comes up with a whimsical explantion for the workings of the world around him(though they are often wrong)I feel a bittersweet delight knowing a day will come when he figures out that most of his “discoveries” have already been made and the true explanations are a lot duller than his own.


  4. That kind of letter is just so exasperating that I can’t even think of a comment.

    Do you also have surveys to fill in, so that the District can be ‘parent-oriented’, on subjects that you have no way of knowing anything about? I had to fill in a form all about the Principal’s management style. Did he give the teachers clear objectives? Did he give them guidance on how to reach those objectives?

    It’s part of the same obsession with testing, grading, giving everything a number. If you and I were in school, we wouldn’t be free just to write a blog and leave it open to people to comment on it. We’d have to have a checklist, and a number, and be assessed, and we’d probably end up in front of the review committee too.


  5. You go girl, I’m proud to know you!!
    Thanks for correcting my o on my to that I sent you. I had already hit submit, and it was gone.
    Hope you three are doing fine on this “no school” and icy day…..it’s time for some snow pictures. How about a red cardinal with a snowy background. Maybe the Sean throwing a snowball?


  6. You have an adorable boy there. I love that you used the moon roof to gaze at the moon.

    We’ve received two robot calls late in the evening saying my son was absent from class that day. Truth was that he was sitting right there and it was a notation mistake on the part of the teachers both times. But he still had to do paperwork (this is high school) and visit the office a few times to have it corrected. …It’s startling to get one of those automatic absentee notifications. Makes you feel a bit accused.


  7. Had to add another comment re: homeschooling on the table. Homeschooling is also on the table at our house, along with a variety of private school options. However, this is our dilemma that I would love for you, Antique Mommy, to opine upon – if all the good, Christian, involved parents pull their children out of public school, what hope is there for the public school system? On the other hand, of course, is trying to provide the best for our children. Please share your thoughts sometime.

    * * *
    Choice of school is a personal matter, best made by parents who understand all the implications thereof, regardless if they are “good Christians”, so-so Christians, or not Christians at all. I’m glad I live in a country, and especially a state, that is friendly towards that choice. While I have some (many) concerns regarding the state of the public school system as it relates to the larger population, it is unlikely that I would use my son to make a point. Selfishly, I will do what is best for him.


  8. Don’t let the letter from the school turn you totally against the school system. While Sean flourishes with some days off at home in a stimulating environment, so many children are at home far too often in an environment that is not encouraging learning. The schools have to try discourage those absenses and, they cannot really pick and choose whom they contact. Just keep making that 3:15 to 4:15 time cherished and memorable.

    * * *
    I’m not turned against the school system. I’m not even really all that upset over the letter, it’s more of a “makes me sigh with exasperation” kind of deal. I knew what I was signing up for when we chose public school and for the most part, we like it. It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal, nothing is, so we fill in the gaps at home.

    However. Having said all that…

    I think they can pick and choose to whom they send those semi-threatening letters. I have to believe that in the computer right along with Sean’s absences is his testing data (testing data of which the state is so fond as all teaching seems to pivot off those tests) — all that info is easily compared, a simple if/then computation. At the very least, the letter could go to the teacher first who would then say – yes, this kid needs intervention or no, this kid has the flu and is no danger of failing, I’ve sent his work home. And then they could send a different letter, a letter that would generate better PR, a letter that says – hey, we’re sorry you are sick – is there anything we can do to help you stay current with your school work?

    I understand these common sense things are a challenge in a “system”.


  9. Yay!!! Finally, someone else mentioned the homeschool option…Sean would NEVER find a better teacher! Love all your posts and am still waiting for the BOOK!


  10. I don’t want to shake your faith in your son’s intelligence, because making up something that sounds true is often more difficult than memorizing a true fact, but your son’s explanation of the moon’s color was not correct. The moon appears orange for the same reason that the sky sometimes appears orange at sunset. The blue light from the moon is more scattered by particles in the atmosphere than the red light, thus making the moon appear red. Perhaps your son is even more intelligent than you thought and already knew this and was testing you to see what you’d believe. If so, you’d better be careful!

    * * *
    He may have not gotten the explanation for the color of the moon exactly right; loess, or floating dust particles, does indeed provide the brilliant color for our southwestern sunsets. But he was correct in that during the January Wolf Moon, Jupiter was as near to the moon as it has been for “many moons” and the moon does not generate it’s own light. So I give him partial credit, but then again, I’m not much of a picker of nits. An incorrect fact here and there does not shake my faith in Sean’s intelligence. He’s not a genius but he is extremely creative and curious and is gleefully in search of how the world works. This brings much joy to our house.


  11. When I read your Sept 2010 post “The School Vibe” I was quietly waiting to see how long it would take before you would question your next to last paragraph of that post.

    I will also wait to see how long before you take up the Home School option. We have been there, and done that with the kid, and the grandkids.

    Call it what you want…bureaucracy—-politics—-political correctness (I hate that terminology)….it is getting to be too much !!!

    * * *
    As I’ve said many times here on this blog, the home schooling option is always on the table. And in fact we DO home school. Every day from 3:15 – 4:15. They do whatever they do there at school from 8-3 and then when he gets home we play with multiplication and division and geology and history and the fun stuff.


  12. Don’t you love our school system. Hubs teaches in the same school as my kids and my sweet kindergarten angel was sent to the office and we got a letter home about his visit. Really??? It was Hubs and I that requested he visit the principal. Go figure. Now save that letter because when Sean graduates at the top of his class you can really have a good laugh!


  13. Really? Up here students are not held back for any reason. Even parental request. And no, you do not want to get me started on that particular hobby horse.
    Anywhoo, I did not know that about Jupiter either. Thanks Sean, for the lesson.


  14. Read you all the time…first time commenting…When my youngest was in 4th grade, I routinely called him in sick almost every Wednesday…My Father would drive my Mother to my office to help me with bookkeeping and my Father and son would spend the day together. His grades never suffered. And I figured those memories would last a lifetime for my son and they have. He’s now 25, gainfully employed and a son any Mother would be proud of…so Jupiter is the reason!!! Amazing!


  15. Oh I dread that part of public school. My mother did push back when my brothers and I were in school, just as fern suggested. “If my kids are all at the top of their class and all have too many absences, doesn’t that indicate a problem with the school rather than a problem with my children?” Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was on the school board. It also made the warning that much more hilarious. Bureaucracy. Yep, dreading dealing with that.


  16. Typically, those letters are auto-generated based on the absenses recorded in some computer system and hooked to the legal system of requirements.

    For many parents – they don’t care about the education of their children as they themselves are asleep when school starts and they don’t get their kids dressed nor fed – much less to the door of their classroom.

    Yes – I was a public school teacher – my husband a public school teacher at an alternative (discipline) campus. The neglect is rampant.

    Sorry you were caught in the backfire.


  17. Those letters are just silly. I think the administration just sees a number regarding absences and acts on it without checking to see the reason for each absence.
    We got a letter like that when our son was a senior. It stated that he would not graduate if he missed one more day.
    So we had to go through each abence and let them know what they were and how they were excused per the handbook – doctor’s appt (with note) miitary obligations for his upcoming enlistment (which we insisted should be viewed the same as a college day and they caved to that). By the time we were done he had 2 absences instead of 9. But having to go through it was just ridiculous.

    Regarding Jupiter: do you think Sean could explain to all of us why Pluto is no longer a planet? I still don’t get it.


  18. Sigh. I am so done with school. By the time all of our kids finish, it will have lasted 29 straight years of K-12. But when it’s all over — I won’t have any kids left! 😦


  19. Maybe the review board ought to spend some time evaluating the criteria under which and to whom they will send semi-threatening letters. I found the letter to be laughable, offensive and really bad PR. And typical of of government mandated protocol.


  20. The schools have to send out these letters to keep on top of truant parents, but sometimes they make me laugh. We got one when my daughter was a jr in high school because she had missed too many of her 1st period classes (which is an optional period-and all of her absences were with my permission and some were religious observances)and they might drop her from it. The class was honors spanish and she had the highest grade in the class(and is ranked #1 in her class). If they had tried to drop her I was going to ask “If she has the highest grade in the class with these absences just what is it that she is missing?”

    This year when she began to have too many absences (again-with my permission and most were religious holidays), the dean said to her “Because of the absences I am required to tell you that we could drop your from the classes. But don’t worry about it.”


  21. Look at it this way, at least your school has a review board. Where I teach it’s simply excused or unexcused. Period. I have seen the DA (District Attorney) come and chew out parents and children over their attendance. Granted, I teach in a *very* poor neighborhood at a so called “underachieving” school. So attendance is our only hope of the kids learning most things. Still, there are lots of good reasons to miss school. I like the idea of a review board because it implies that each case will be looked at on a case by case basis. I think most of childhood should be looked at on a case by case basis. Spotty attendance can mean two things either a family is super tight or they are coming unraveled. It deserves review…and dismissal in Sean’s case.


  22. I just love your kid. As for the ‘review’ committee – what a joke! When I was a kid, I remember my mom pulling me out of school for 4 -6 weeks one year when I was in 5th grade to travel from Texas to Idaho – my teacher gave her some books for me to read and told me to collect soil samples and write a report about every state we went through. And then she told me to have a blast. I miss school being like that. 🙂

    * * *
    I know. I went to a small private school and the only time you got a letter was if your tuition was late.


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