|Griffin and his daddy in front of Pioneer, or rather, in front of a giant inflatable bowl of Quaker Oats commemorating Lafayette's annual Oatmeal Festival, held at the school
For example, at the "language station," the evaluator showed Griffin individual pictures of common objects and asked him to identify them--for example, a feather. As he said the words, she took notes on a form. The only one Griffin couldn't identify was the tweezers, and I'm not surprised--I don't think he's ever had a splinter, so he's probably never seen tweezers used, and it's not as if tweezers appear in any of his favorite children's books. (Come to think of it, I don't even know how to say tweezers in French!) Then she showed him a page with pictures of all of the items from the previous task and asked him to point to the tweezers, which he did correctly.
When she asked him to chant the letters of the alphabet, on the other hand, he refused.
|It's not a surprise that he did well at the language station--Griffin has always loved books.
Another task at the language station left me a little confused. She showed Griffin a drawing of a family in a kitchen and led him through a series of questions (which I will do my best to transcribe a month later):
--Do you see anything that starts with the sound /f/?
--Do you see anything that doesn't look right?
--There's a banana peel on the floor.
--What should they do about that?
--Pick it up!
--What else isn't right in this room?
--There's a bug flying over the table.
--Why is there a bug in the kitchen?
--Because the kitchen door is open.
--What should they do about the bug?
--The daddy should hit it with the thing that makes it dead.
--What do you call the object that you use to kill a bug?
--The thing that makes it dead. [At this point, watching her take notes about his responses, I so wanted to say, "He does know the word 'fly swatter' in French! That counts!"]
|You see, Griffin and flyswatters go way back.
--I go ask my daddy to play something else with me.
--Do you ask your daddy to do anything else? [This was a leading question, clearly trying to get him to say something along the lines of "fix the toy," but Griffin wasn't going there. Later, I saw that she had credited him 0 out of 2 points for his response to the broken toy question.]
One thing really jumped out at me: how good my husband and I are at deciphering Griffin-talk. We're so used to his linguistic quirks--certain mispronounced sounds (/th/, /r/), certain charmingly garbled words (like "goofball" for "golf ball"), his French-isms (such as "put it at the trash" because of the influence of "a la poubelle")--and we know to what he's referring when he mentions things like his "honey car" (a yellow Matchbox race car emblazened with the Honey Nut Cheerios logo) or "sausage rolled over with pancake" (a breakfast treat from the freezer consisting of a turkey sausage on a stick which has been dipped in pancake batter).
Griffin (usually) is perfectly comprehensible to us--this evaluation process was a good reminder that not everyone else can follow everything he says.
We felt a little insulted at first, in fact, when the language evaluator asked his what his full name was and Griffin eagerly announced his first, middle, and last name.
--Hmmm, well, I guess that's close enough.
His dad and I shot glances at each other. Up to that point, we had done a pretty good job of not interrupting or prompting or even reacting to his responses so as not to influence his answers, but there, we had to butt in.
--What do you mean, "close enough"? That's exactly it!
--Oh, I guess I didn't understand him.
During this two-hour-long process, we filled out a long questionnaire about his behavior, social skills, and so forth (fortunately, none of the questions concerned his incessant, gleeful, very public nose-picking, or we might have been tempted to prevaricate). Griffin also did tasks for evaluating his gross motor skills (toss a bean bag at a target, hop on one foot, etc.) and fine motor skills (cut a dinosaur shape out of paper), plus had a health screening (height, weight, verify paperwork for vaccinations, etc.).
|Picking one's nose is an excellent demonstration of one's fine motor skills.
|Gross motor skills really aren't an issue for our constantly-in-motion boy.
|He even wields a mean snow shovel...
|...and plays a passable ragtime.
And here's a fun one:
--Griffin, how high can you count?
--Fifty-nine?! [to us] The form only goes up to twenty!
|Board game? Yoga? No, math!
After the concepts screening, the evaluator pulled us aside and said, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but these tasks are designed for three- to six-year-olds, and your son, who is barely four, has a perfect score on all of them."
|Beaming parents, with children and farm-fresh produce.
One other highlight of this station: we found out that Griffin can count backwards from ten to one! We'd never done that with him at home, so based on how quickly he spouted the numbers, I assumed that he had heard it at preschool and just memorized the sequence. But later, when I asked him to count backwards in French--which I know for sure that he had never done or heard before--he managed just fine.
Anyway, we're proud of him (and of us) and very much looking forward to seeing what develops when he enters the dual-language immersion preschool program and adds Spanish to the mix! And we're confident that one day soon he'll be counting to 100, whacking bugs with his own flyswatter, leaping tall buildings with a single bound, and picking his nose in private.
|While I don't have a photo of Griffin using a flyswatter, you can still check out his technique when whacking a pinata.