And after all these insinuations from his teacher about his maybe having ADD or something, I have to admit that even I was a little skeptical that he'd be able to sit there for an hour of instruction by a stranger (from Berkeley, no less) on a board game with non-animated, non-cartoony, non-physical pieces, in a room full of rowdy kids ranging from K-5th grade.
But he did. And thensome. And, in fact, they both did really really well.
He was raising his hands to answer questions we had no idea he knew the answer to. But he got called on several times, and even went up to the board once to attempt a move in response to a question -- and after standing there in front of the whole class, more than 75% of whom were already frequent chess players, he actually moved the piece to just the right spot, and never once looked uncertain or nervous or intimidated.
And I'm still not sure how he did it. But he did. And he seems to get it on a level that I know I'll never understand. And Saia really appears to enjoy it, too. Although, she's a game lover already, like me, so for her it's not so much that it's the game of chess itself, as it is that it's just another game to learn how to master. But for him...for him it was like opening a door onto a path that he always knew was there, but just couldn't see.
And as soon as we came home, he had Mommy install her own chess game on all the computers in the house. And it's all he's done since (well, when he earns computer time, of course). And, naturally, Amy's just beaming. Because she's been trying to turn them onto this for a while, developing their interest, laying the groundwork, building their excitement, and now to watch him take flight like this, it's all she can do to contain herself and not whip out the chess set the second they get home from school.
And, honestly, I don't know that this'll be his "thing." I don't know that he's suddenly maturing and learning to control his little body. I don't know that he won't decide tomorrow that he'd rather be a circus acrobat or a monkey trainer at the zoo. But I do know that he gets a gleam in his eye when he's getting ready to play. And that you can literally see his little gears churning in his head right through his voluminous black locks as he plans, and strategizes, and calculates his risks. And that even when he's losing, he's making every effort to not get upset, to understand what's happening, to try not to let the same thing happen the next time.
He seems stronger and more confident in a way we didn't know he was lacking. More sure of himself -- the way she is with karate. It's like a perfect storm of positive influence.
Check. And mate.