Another Fine Line

Nate has his first biology test tomorrow. He’s been studying on his own and strongly denying my help. That’s OK. It’s difficult to balance Nate doing his best and doing his own work.

The year before we moved to Cooperstown, when Nate was in sixth grade, he had a huge end of the term bio test. We worked on it tirelessly: at home, in the car, wherever we were at the moment. Every day we covered that thick loose-leaf binder, reading notes over and over, scanning the diagrams of each bodily system. He nailed that test with a 96, I think. Whatever the number, it was high and we were all proud of him. He took it in stride. How he did mattered less to him than anyone.

Now he’s preparing for Monday’s test on his own. It’s impossible to know how he’ll do, but it ends up being a worthwhile tradeoff, a possible failing test grade in return for becoming a stronger adult. His continual movement towards independence means more than any single grade.

However, I told him if he did poorly we would be working together next time.

“I’ll study cautiously,” he replied. Nate chooses words that sort of fit. No one uses “cautiously” in that context, but it works, in a funny, uncommon sort of way. 

I’d rather him get a 65 independently, than an 85 with my help. We’ll see how it turns out.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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