I found his first journal, at age seven. He talks about his best friend, Michael Kohan. Together we have fun, he writes on the 5th of November, 1987. For a second grader, he knew a great deal about writing conventions. He wrote clearly about his friendships, how he spent his time, how he made up games.
He talks about his emotions, the fact that they were reading Charlotte's Web in school, the disappointments he felt when another friend spent more time with someone else.
He loved to tinker, to take things apart, to see how everything worked.
When he was still a toddler, he unhinged a cupboard door with just a butter knife and then, spent hours putting it back together, insisting he could do it by himself.Of course, we encouraged him, bought him model cars to assemble and race, and allowed him to build small engines for more advanced models. For his fifth grade science project, he built a road with magnets, and cars moved with a specified command without the aid of the driver!
In the sixth grade, during his winter break of six weeks from Parkman Middle School, I enrolled him at Almondale Middle School, in the Antelope Valley, where I was principal. He took a wood shop class he came to love, in spite of not liking the teacher. (He had no time in his schedule at Parkman to take any shop classes, even if they offered them.)
We woke up at 5:00 and drove the 63 miles to the Antelope Valley to be at work at 7:00. We returned home after 7:00 most nights. We spent hours and hours talking. He saw the entire shift as an adventure; looked forward to the snow storms I had promised he'd encounter during that winter. He saw the work I did, the other side of teaching. That was the year he began to have more respect for the work teachers do.
His class work improved after that.