I don't often think about it anymore, but tonight I did--remembered sitting in our driveway in Minnesota in one of a series of cars that Honda gave Chris to drive around his five-state district--we had just gotten back from a date night, or maybe we were just leaving to go on it, but the topic of conversation was the most recent traumatic conversation I'd had with Max's teacher. We decided then and there, it was just before Christmas, that we would finish out the school year--because the twins were barely one and because we believed that Max should finish what he started--but then we would homeschool him. Max couldn't seem to get a grip on his behavior at school, and the teachers--well it was just one crazy conversation after another. Max hadn't had a truly great teacher since preschool. We were tired of it. We felt "they" were creating a self-fullfilling prophecy with Max. They expected him to misbehave--and he did.
So we homeschooled, and while there was much that was wonderful about it--it was truly the most satisfying teaching I have ever done, and he learned a lot--our family is not ideally designed for homeschooling. There came a time when I felt that the damage had been undone, that Max was ready to give school another shot, and so we tried the Charter school. Since then, each year has been a little better than the one that came before it. And each parent-teacher conference season got a little easier than the one that came before it. At some point he stopped being the gifted chatty kid who couldn't stay in his seat and he started being the gifted outgoing leader who teachers missed when his seat was empty. (Ben and Milo are more like those wolf cubs on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Even when they're biting the teacher wolf's tail, she's still kind of bemused by them. I've never had a rough p/t conference for them. If you don't know the show I'm talking about, you're too young to be reading this blog anyway.)
Tonight was a choir concert at the high school. I've been to a lot of school choir concerts. I sang in them when I was in high school (in Mass, not in CA), and Max has been in choir in school since 5th grade. None of them prepared me for what I saw tonight. The choir director at State High is unbelievably professional. He is warm, he is brilliant, and he evokes from ordinary kids extraordinary sounds. Only 7 weeks into the school year, I heard the best choir concert of my life tonight. And my kid, my tall, funny, smart guy with the fabulous hair, was there loving it all.
I am so--words are inadequate to express the depth of my gratitude that Max HAS this. He wakes up and goes to morning seminary and rushes to school because when you are a bright kid and someone truly challenges you to learn more, do more, think in new ways, solve a problem worth solving, it's like the best cold spring water on a hot day down a parched throat. It's exciting.
I feel silly gushing like this. Adolescence has proved to me that it's a wild ride with big ups and big downs and there have been periods when I have thought maybe I'm not cut out for it (but, Chris is pretty good at the big-kid part, and he wouldn't let me give notice), and so I get that we've got a long way yet to go with this whole project.
But when you're building something as important as the mind, body, and soul of a young man, it's an incredible advantage to have good tools to do it with. I'm so grateful that he's at a place where when he chooses to stretch, to learn, to grow, that he has so many good options. Great options. I am so grateful.