Monday, June 27, 2011

Henrietta Szold, Revisited

A while ago, we spoke about how Ariella got to take a test from the Henrietta Szold Institute for Smart Kids. Basically, she had done well on part one of the test, in school, so she was invited to take part two. If she passed, she would get to take a Chug for Smart Kids next year.

A different institute, Machon Karni for Smart Kids, also wanted Ariella to take a test. She's in a chug this year, Eshkolot, that she got to take based on the recommendation from her previous year's teacher. But this year they changed the rules. Instead of accepting only kids who were recommended by the teacher, any kid could be considered, if they passed the test. And kids were already in the chug this year had to take the test as well if they wanted to continue the chugim next year.

Following so far? To make it even more complicated, the Eshkolot people said if she passed the Szold test that would count as well. Were Mr. Karni and Ms. Szold friends, back in the day?

Now, these Eshkolot chugim are a pain, timing-and-parking-wise, but Ariella really enjoyed them and wanted to continue next year. So we said we would take this second test, just to make really really sure she would get in and be able to take her chugim.

Well, just last week I received two letters. One from Machon Szold and one from Eshkolot. The contents:

Dear Parents of Ariella,
Your child is no longer smart.

She didn't pass either of these tests. Which means no more Chugim for Smart Kids for Ariella.

I was devastated. I figured the Szold test wouldn't upset Ariella so much, since we never really understood what it was for anyway. But I knew how much she wanted to take her chugim, and now I had to tell her she didn't pass her test.

The American parent in me despaired, "How do you give a test to an 8-year-old that they can't pass???? What is the matter with you people???? What a blow to her self-esteem this will be! Oh the tears, the tears!"

I worried all day about how to break the news to her. When I finally did, she was quiet for a minute. Then,

"It doesn't matter," she said nonchalantly. "It will be like when I was in kitah aleph and I didn't have these chugim!"

And she goes on to discuss which of the school chugim she wants to take next year.(Cooking and computers, in case you were wondering.)

What's that you say? I should stop projecting my own fears and insecurities onto my child, as per my own chapter in my book on child-rearing called, "Stop Projecting Your Own Fears and Insecurities Onto Your Child. You Twit."?

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you because I'm too busy crying that I - I mean Ariella - didn't pass my test. I mean her test. Hmmmm.

In other Ariella news, we had her mesibat siyum last night. Usually, Daddy gets picked to go, but this time Ariella wanted some girl time. So Daddy came home early and Mommy and Ariella went off. I was excited. The kids were told to bring their chumash, so I figured we would do some sort of parent-child learning. Much better than the usual "quality time" we spent together, consisting of: "Ariella brush your teeth."

The party was at a shul, instead of at school. We walked in, and there was a puppet show set up. I figured perhaps it was going to be a story in chumash they had learned. We sat down.

The show began.

It was about Jews in 15th century Toledo, Spain.

There was a magical diamond. And a talking lion.

It lasted 45 minutes.

Then, we all broke for "dinner" consisting of Osem cakes, rugelach and Sprite.

After dinner, we headed back inside shul. Okay, now we are going to do something meaningful, something substantial, something worthy of children who have completed the entire chumash Bereishit.

We played Bingo.

It was Bereishit Bingo, so poofahs for that. But basically the teachers asked riddle-y questions, and if you had the answer on your board, you crossed it off. Not sure what the purpose of bringing the chumash was, except as a surface on which to place your Bingo board.

After the game, we split into the 3 classes, where the teacher read a beautiful poem to the class (really, it was, no sarcasm there), and said something nice and personal about each kid in class. Each kid got a clock and we went home.

Now, I love Ariella's school. And I think her teacher is beyond amazing. I mean, she could be the president of Planet Awesome. So I was a little surprised at this rather meaningless end-of-year party.

But Ariella had fun.

Plus, I got to see an original song and dance! (Take that, Glee!) Starring Ariella! See, last Friday her class planned a surprise party for their teacher, complete with a choreographed song. And at the mesibat siyum, they got to perform it for the entire grade.

It was super cute. Waaaay better than the Talking Lions of Medieval Spain.


SaraK said...

Seriously, this belongs in a humor magazine for olim.

faith/emuna said...

ariella is brilliant, she did a siyum on the whole chumash, which shows individualism, idealism, persistence and determination. and yet not geeky (she asked for earings)
choose chugim with good parking, hope ariella enjoys them ( and you are allowed to spit when you pass the old chug place. )

Anonymous said...

We don't need no outside "expert" to tell us whether Ariella is smart. Heck with 'em. Their loss.

OneTiredEma said...

I can't decide if it's better/worse that she is not going to Eshkolot. Because ZOMG Reut. REUUUUUT! And kita bet and kita gimmel are different days of the week. No carpool! Gack!

I also take things way personally, even though Miss M and I COULD NOT BE MORE DIFFERENT. Because clearly she is a reflection of my parenting skillz. Which, of course not.

(And we had an equally irrelevant science-y show, with dry ice and vinegar and baking soda. And crafts. And the Torah aspect was...MIA.)

OneTiredEma said...

The Gift of the Magi! That was what I was trying to express...

Kathleen said...

seriously, you have a great sense of humor!
And just from what I read about Ariella, it's their loss.

Gila Rose said...

Tired - it's true, I will admit that part of me is doing a little dance that we don't have to do this evening shlep next year.

Thanks for saying all the nice things, you guys!

Eliana and Michael said...

OK--I can't stop laughing thinking abou the Chumash as a hard surface to put your bingo card.

Seriously, if your daughter who read the Chumash for her pleasure is not considered smart I don't know who would be.

Keep up the great writing!