Original, mixed-media art by Ruth Powell
One aspect of home schooling – for better or for worse – is that the student as immersed in the peer pressure cooker. My son is independent in lots of ways, but that fact remains that he and I are together a whole lot of the time. It doesn’t seem to bother him, for which I am grateful, but I do worry that he’s going to be lost when he goes off to college.
But then, on Thursday, we had one of those milestone days. For example: the first day the kid pulls themselves upright and toddles across to your outstretched arms. They day they figured out they could dress themselves, or when they squiggle their hand out of yours as you’re walking them to school. Thursday was one of those days.
He got up and did his school work. He studied for the SAT math test. He did a lesson in Arabic, and one lesson in graphic arts. We had a discussion about the history of film, and talking about how readers add meaning to texts.
Then, he had a bagel with peanut butter and brown sugar and an apple for lunch, took a shower and gathered his things and drove himself to Nashville for a meeting with a college recruiter from a small liberal arts college in Ohio (Almost all small literal arts colleges are in Ohio, I’ve discovered.) He met her at Bongo Java in east Nashville. He wasn’t sure which one she was. All the grown-ups had laptops and notebooks, he said. She recognized him; he was the tall skinny kid in a hat. They had a good meeting by all accounts. Then, he drove to an apartment complex across town to teach aikido to a group of middle school refugee students.
On the way, he stopped at Church’s Fried chicken and got a box of chicken legs because he was hungry. Now, this may not sound like much, but for some reason it struck me as momentous. This is the kid who expect mom to fix him breakfast, lunch and dinner to order whenever he’s ready. And, he used his own money.
He brought his own mats for the class and he and his sensei set up on the tennis court where all the children in the apartment complex gathered to watch and try to copy the moves of the seven lucky kids who’d signed up for the class.
My son drove home – thirty miles or so on a winding two-lane highway in the truck he bought for $100.00 before he could even drive. My husband and I were relieved, as always, to hear that rumbling engine pull into the drive.
At dinner last night, my husband asked me if, a year ago, he’d told me that my son would drive himself to Nashville, meet with a college recruiter, drive across Nashville, picking up and paying for his own dinner, then teaching martial arts to refugee children, if I would have believed him. No, absolutely not. Not in a million years. It’s the small things, those little milestones that remind us that nothing stays the same.