For 21/2 years I have worried about The Boy. He spent the longest time in structured schooling: 6 years. He has been the last child to return to a life of learning.
It’s not that I haven’t seen glimpses of it. It’s just that when he has a choice between going outside to explore and staying inside to veg, he choses inside.
So I’ve worried.
You see, my son, he HAD an insatiable appetite to learn. From the moment he figured out that his hands were made for exploring, he explored. Once his feet started moving his lean little body, I was left in the dust trying to keep up with him.
Always something to see, to do, to learn.
I remember days where my bright-eyed little wonder would proclaim, “Mommy, see?” “Mommy, did you know that the dog licks his bottom?” (Uh no, bud, I didn’t know that. And can you PLEASE not say that so loud in the grocery store! ) Mommy, Mommy LOOK. LOOK. SEE?
Then we moved to the Why stage. “Why does it rain?” (I ask my self that too!) “Mommy, if Jesus lives in my heart, who lives in Jesus heart?” “If I have a mommy, doesn’t Jesus have a mommy?” “How come God doesn’t have a wife?” Questions. Always asking me questions that would be answered with, “Well honey, let’s ask your daddy.”
The thing is, my boy, he talked to me. All the time. At times I’m ashamed that I said, “Can you please be quiet for a minute buddy?” And then one day…he was silent.
It happened somewhere between Pre-Reader (we didn’t call it Kindergarten for some reason) and 1st grade. Driving home we’d talk about our day (it was a LONG drive home), what he learned, what he did. This day, he didn’t respond. “Nothing Mom. I learned nothing.”
Suddenly, I went from Mommy to Mom. A piece of my heart broke. He spent 4 hours away from me, and he learned nothing? Nothing he wanted to share with me? I wept.
I mourned as I watched him stop seeing the little things in life: the snail crawling across the grass, the sound the Woodpecker made while it beat on our chimney, the simple joy of the sun beaming through his window. His world became consumed with video games, music and talk of war. It broke my heart, but I kept telling myself that he was just a boy. I needed to let him go, so he could grow into a man.
We moved into Middle School. I know he was learning; his grades showed an excellent student. But he didn’t share what he learned, and I quit trying to make him. Life became about the American Dream and something inside of me died.
Then my husband made a decision. Suddenly, we were a homeschool family. We spent a summer traveling. Seeing the beauty of the world. My children were not as interested as I wanted them to be. Even seeing the majestic beauty of the Yellowstone did not wake them up.
It wasn’t until someone told me about de-schooling that our experience began to make sense. And so we slowly began “Operation Deprogram”. Still concerned about providing an equal, if not better, education for our children it took us longer than it could have.
One day I discovered Bear was interested in learning. Because she wanted to learn. Because something had sparked her interest. She became our biggest advocate of homeschooling.
Missy took a little longer. Partly because she was older (although only by a year) and partly because she was more interested in the social aspect of school. Still one day I discovered her doing Math, on her own, at 10:00 at night. And we haven’t looked back.
The Boy. We entered 9th grade. I kept waiting for him to become engaged. Interested. Crickets. He’d occasionally talk about what he read, but I never SAW that spark that burned so brightly 10 years earlier. Until today.
Today my son awoke.