I just got back from conferences with John's teacher, where I learned that other people see in my son what I see -- and sometimes more.
John gets so excited during class, the teacher said, that he gets other kids excited, too. When she announces it's time for social studies, instead of a chorus of "awwwwwwww-WUH," she gets John saying, "Social studies? SOCIAL STUDIES? AW RIGHT!" and then the other kids get worked up and excited, too, and then she has a roomful of kids all energized and ready to learn. Because of John.
When two kids are arguing, John will come up to them and point out the reasons of why they shouldn't be arguing, and how they could solve their problem. "Maybe I shouldn't let him do it, but he IS very diplomatic," she said. Which is fine, as long as he stays the tallest kid in his peer group (he'll be taller than his teacher by the end of the school year, I think).
She said that he'll pipe up in class about Shakespeare or pirates or the Titanic (thank you, Magic Treehouse Books) and then 10 minutes later she'll find him rolling around on the floor giggling and pretending to be a monkey. "He IS a little boy, still," she said, echoing what Matt and I say all the time.
When asked to write a composition about someone special to him, he wrote about Maia, which blew her away:
My sister is special To me. Becuse she plays with me. Cheers me up when im down. And Just hangs out with me. She is fun. And she is cool. And he name is Maia.
I got all teary during the conference. Sometimes all I see is a kid who WILL NOT pick up his room, or even his coat; who gets all spacey when it's time to get something done; who tries to tell me something important to him when FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WE'RE LATE FOR SCHOOL AND WOULD YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH, PLEASE (and whose fault is it we're running late, hmmmm?); who gets the wiggles and the weird noises and funny smells of second-grade boys ("I like the way my armpit smells!"); who doesn't check his work and rushes through his worksheets; who calls me up on my cell phone and leaves voice-mails full of burps; and all it takes is a 15-minute conference with his teacher to remind me to just lighten up, already, just for a minute, and pay attention to who he is.