Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is There a Social Skills Fair?

Last night I went to a TAG (Talented and Gifted) Project Showcase with Claire. The kids brought big posters about the projects they had done and the parents were supposed to walk around and look at them and ask questions. Kind of like a science fair, but for a variety of enrichment projects.

It was totally weird.

First of all, they wanted me to walk around and talk to strangers about stuff. The fact that the strangers were children didn't really help. I mean, I'm not particularly fond of children unless I know them. Knowing the kids makes it tolerable. It's even better if they are MY children.

Look, I'm sure it's a great experience for the kids, but I'm not good at that stuff. I was super uncomfortable. But I was supposed to wander around some strange middle school's library and lobby to look at a bunch of posters. And then I was supposed to feign interest in totally lame and boring projects about things like how 17 different kids wish they had a hamster for a pet. I was even supposed to come up with relevant questions so I could get EVEN MORE information about something I didn't care about to begin with.

So after getting Claire all set up at her post WAY in the back corner (only place with space left) (where I'm sure hardly anyone came to talk to her), I wandered off to mill about and try to find something that actually looked interesting to me. I was walking along, trying hard to look up and off in the distance.

Don't make eye contact with the little kids...
Don't make eye contact...

But then I had to navigate my way around some chairs and I accidentally looked in the general direction of a couple of little boys.

Dang it!

One of the boys immediately asked (WAY too eagerly, I might add), "Do you want to hear about my project?"


But you can't actually say that, so of course I had to say yes. He started telling me about how his project was on windmills. He was SO over-eager and prissy and unnatural for a kid that it was driving me crazy. I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and yell, "Go play some video games or something!!!"

I could see they had some sort of demo they had built. So I asked him what they had powered with a windmill. Because silly me, I thought the point of windmills was to do work. But he explained that the demo was to show how the windmill had gears inside so that you could change the speed of rotation. The only work their windmill did was spin 2 paper clips at 2 different speeds. So actually their entire poster was apparently wrong and their project was really about gear ratios. But whatever...

Once I was free of the gear-ratios-mislabeled-windmills boys, I saw one or two reasonably normal projects. Then I had a little girl who was standing in front of a laptop ask me if I wanted to see her project.


But again I gave the expected yes. So she proceeded to start up a power point presentation. I didn't mind the power point so much as the fact that instead of the girl who was standing right there actually talking about her project, it started playing a recording of her voice. A bad recording that was much too quiet for the noisy room full of people that we were in. So I had to stand there and watch her slides go by and make up some presentation in my head to go along with them since I couldn't understand a word of the recording.

Again after that I got to see a few fairly normal projects. Then I was confronted with a little girl all dressed up in a fancy dress standing in front of a poster about Helen Keller. I said, "So you researched Helen Keller?"

She looked at me and then without saying a word, pointed at a little line of dominoes all standing in a row with a sign in front of them that said, "Push here." Slightly puzzled, I obliged her and pushed them over. Apparently that was the little girl's cue to launch into a memorized speech about the fairly mundane dates and figures of Helen Keller's life. It was like her aspiration in life was to be a recording in some museum that you activate by pushing a button. Or in this case dominoes. It was SO WEIRD.

Just then, I felt like climbing up on top of a table in the middle of the room and screaming, "All of you! Go outside and play. Now."

And then to top it all off, the second half of the evening was a presentation by someone from Mensa. I was pretty reluctant to go because my perception of Mensa is that it's full of people who are overly full of themselves. Everyone in it is either not THAT smart and are trying to prove something or they're smart in that obnoxious way that glories in lording over other people. I mean, if you have to join a club to prove to yourself that you're smart, you clearly have issues.

Anyway, I was really hoping that this lady who presented was going to be nice and humbly intelligent and prove all of my preconceived notions about Mensa people wrong.

She didn't.

No comments: