PROBE: August 3, 2001

August 03, 2001

QUESTION: My daughter was promoted from first to second grade by the skin of her teeth. This year the teacher almost held her back but finally passed her to third grade. With school just around the corner, I am trying to decide what will be best for my daughter.

Should I let her go on or should I hold her back so she can catch up and continue in school at a more comfortable level? I would like to discuss this with her teachers but they are not available now.

What do you think, PROBE? — Shaky Mom, Brawley

We don't know, although we have been in your situation. Thirty years later, we still don't know if we made the right decision.

In our case, our daughter's teacher confided she was thinking about holding her back in second grade. We reacted as if we had been slapped.


We knew that holding her back may have been the right move but we feared it would hurt her self-esteem. At the time, that seemed an important factor.

On the other hand, if we insisted that she be promoted, we feared she would be treading water for years. We didn't make a decision. We just went to work trying to bring our little girl up to par.

We listened to her read every night. We would read a paragraph and she would read the next one. We made a set of math flash cards so she reviewed her number combinations.

We would surprise her with a sudden: "What's 6 plus 4? Quick, tell me, 6 plus 5 — now 7 minus 2." The upshot was our daughter passed to third grade.

Although spared the stigma of failure, she never became a scholar. Had she repeated second grade, we doubt she would have become a scholar. Potential scholars are seldom in that dilemma. We do what we can.

Perhaps PROBE readers will have some ideas.

SIMMERING, SIMMERING TUMBLEWEEDS — Speaking of edible weeds, tumbleweeds taste good if picked when small, tender and green. Rinse, place in a pan and cook like spinach. Don't add extra water. The water left on the plant after rinsing is enough. It takes only three to five minutes to cook. It doesn't have leaves. It looks stringy but tastes good, like any other green. —Brawley Native, Durango, Co.

We could live off the land here if times get hard. Dibs on the mesquite trees east of Holtville. You can make tortillas from the flour of mesquite beans.

BACK TO DIET SOUP — Do you have the recipe for the diet soup, the one with all the vegetables to clean out the system? — Tubby, Brawley

We do remember the diet soup. It was mostly cabbage. For a time, everybody in Holtville was making diet soup and losing weight. We don't have the recipe but we expect somebody will send it to us. You didn't give us a phone number so if we get it, we'll put it in PROBE.

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