On the whole, it seems like most kids are remarkable primarily to the people who are genetically related to them. If you bother to get to know any child, however, you'll find that they're all pretty darned remarkable in their own ways. Sometimes it just takes something special to bring it out.
He loves baseball. He enjoys school. He's pretty good at math. He likes science. He's got a great group of friends. He plays football or wall ball every recess. Kids like him. Teachers like him. He's pretty bright. He's got a great sense of humor. He's also a stereotypical elder sibling. He's responsible, organized and on top of his own work. He's also responsible for beating on his little sister. At home, he probably watches too much TV. He likes the History Channel, the Weather Channel and the Discovery Channel. Admittedly, his favorite shows are still probably America's Funniest Home Videos and Wipeout!. He's almost 11, but he still smiles when I show up at school, wants to walk next to me on the way to the library and occasionally wants to hold my hand. I'm painfully aware that these sweet little gestures of affection are dwindling and I appreciate them as they're offered.
Despite all I know about my son, I didn't know he had any special knowledge of world geography. But every year, his elementary school hosts a school-level National Geographic Bee for the 4th, 5th and 6th graders. It's affectionately known as the GeoBee.
I was not there. Another mom who, uh, didn't have a hard-to-reschedule hair appointment, was kind enough to send me the photo.
Smunch apparently came second in this round. His friend, C must have come first. That meant the two of them faced off in the championship round yesterday. I had to work and I don't work close by, but I wasn't going to miss it, especially once Smunch said he'd like me to be there.
The GeoBee is a big deal, so I was surprised to learn that the championship round would be only three questions. The boys would listen to each question, write the answer on a piece of paper on a clipboard and then tell the moderator (a sixth grade teacher) what they had written.
The second question: What is the name of the chain of volcanic islands that extends 1,200 miles off the West coast of Alaska? I knew that one, but I was sure that Smunch didn't. And I had no clue what C. knew about Alaska. He's a smart kid. So, when the moderator asked Smunch what he'd written, you can imagine how blown away I was when he said "the Aleutians". Dang. C. made an educated guess and said "the Alaskan Islands".
The last question was about South America. The island of Tierra del Fuego is shared by Argentina and what other country? I've heard of Tierra del Fuego, but I didn't know anything about it. I never would have gotten that question right. Smunch said Brazil. C. said Peru. At least they both chose countries on the right continent! (The answer is Chile, in case you had a burning need to know.)
And just like that, the contest was over.
Apart from a nice certificate and his name on a plaque in the school office (if they ever update it...it's already missing the last two years),
The written test will determine if he qualifies to go to the state GeoBee contest in Sacramento in April. Not sure he'll make it to that level, but it sure would be a fun experience!