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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cranium Challenge

A few nights ago, the three boys from across the street came over for some chili and a game of Cranium. They had never played it before, but they were game to give it a go. Our contestants were:

Junior: now in 6th grade, a sweetie pie of a kid who had some kind of health problem as a young child and is in special education. He's made a lot of progress in math in the last year--I remember him strugging with his times tables and addition/subtraction facts, but now he's doing simple long division problems pretty successfully.

Omar: Junior's little brother, who was in kindergarten when I met him, which means he's in second grade now. He is one of those kids who will say or ask you whatever pops in their heads, which can be funny, and he has more of a temper than his big brother does.

Martin: now in 7th grade. He's very smart--we read most of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime together when I first moved here. He shot up like a weed over the summer and has a hint of a mustache. He and Junior are good buddies, which I find charming.

If you've ever played Cranium, you know that its pop culture references are not likely to register with the under 18 set. I tried to sing like Barbara Steisand, but since they didn't know the song "People," it was to no effect. "She's an old white lady--even older than me!" I told them. Tina Turner was no better, and the only songs of hers I could remember were "Proud Mary" and "Private Dancer." Not wanting to sing the latter for a bunch of preteen boys, I took off my glasses and shook my hair frantically while singing "Proud Mary keep on burning...Rolling..Rolling...Rolling on the river!" This made them laugh but they thought maybe she was related to Timmy Turner of The Fairly Odd Parents, which I had never seen.

Junior had better luck than Martin when trying to spell the word "Bazooka" backwards. Martin got him to guess Radiohead by drawing a radio and a head faster than Omar could draw them for me (and his head looked like a flower with eyes, so I was pretty confused.)

I suspect playing this game might be good for their standardized test scores. This is a big year for Martin, because his test scores this spring will decide whether he's eligible to take the selective enrollment exam. "I wanted to go to Whitney Young, but then I found out their mascot is a dolphin," he informed me. "Aren't there any high schools around here I could go to?"

"Stick with Whitney Young," I advised him. "Don't sweat the mascot, and no, there aren't any high schools around here I want you to go to."

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