Saturday, September 15, 2007

An Unschooler in School - Part II

So, here's the question for today... how did we get here?

The last few months have been totally consumed with the whole prep-for-school thing. I wavered between wanting to jam 8 years of schoolish stuff into Brady's poor brain before August and tossing all cares to the wind and saying "what will be, will be." I didn't want to send him unprepared and yet I didn't want to fill him with conjectures and predictions that may or may not come true and color his experience before he even began. I knew that all the things we most worried about would probably prove to be non-issues, and the things that we least expect to cause trouble, may.

It's all the soccer coach's fault, really. I mean, I have to blame someone so it might as well be him. He saw talent in my son and made the suggestion that Brady come play for him in high school. And that's where it all began.

This particular school was never on our radar before, and suddenly we were all raising our eyebrows, shrugging our shoulders, and saying, "Well... why not?" We talked about it off and on for many months, but Brady was unsure. And then - the night before the application was due - Brady said, quite out of the blue, "I think I might want to give it a try."

"Really?" I asked... "You do? Are you sure?" So I dug out the application information and one thing stood out - Submit a transcript along with... but the rest didn't matter. A transcript. A freakin' transcript. We didn't have anything that even remotely resembled a transcript unless you count the few-months-long record I'd kept during a particularly bad bout of unschoolers doubt when Brady was oh, about ten. Some good that would do.
I had about 15 hours to come up with a transcript.

I got on the horn and called Elizabeth - who's good for help under pressure - and she agreed to edit the narrative I was about to write off the cuff. 8 hours of compiling and translating and emailing ensued.

And we were off. He applied. He visited the school. He tested in. We went to information nights. He signed on for soccer. And we suddenly found our life facing a very different direction and it's like we just kept on driving even though we didn't know exactly why we'd made that last left turn off the interstate.....

So fast forward a few months and we're past the anxiety about starting, past the awkward introductions, past the honeymoon that all is well... and find ourselves in a foreign place, one ruled by serious time restrictions, stifling class requirements, an extremely busy soccer schedule, and pressures and requirements and restrictions and expectations hovering over us like a storm cloud about to burst...

I'm not sure how we got to this place where we've joined the chorus of complainers about school. Whenever we unschoolers would hear the school folk rant on and on about this or that wrong with school, we could offer support and then send waves of gratitude to the universe for not having to live in that space. And now I'm there. And worse, Brady's there too.

He's feeling pretty bad about himself tonight. The transition has proven harder than he expected, the workload is very difficult (it's a college-prep private school), and he said tonight, with agitation bordering on overflow, "I have NO TIME...."

I don't want him to feel bad about himself. He never felt bad about himself before. We've always known what his weaknesses were, but we've also known and celebrated his strengths. We've gone from a community that celebrates who-he-is and everything he does, to one that points out his failings in scratchy red marker. I walked with the soccer coach to the bus after the games today and he went on about how great Brady is doing (as a freshman playing varsity) and he's improving so much and he's quite pleased, and I about fell to my knees to thank him for giving us something *positive*.

But maybe this is just the low that must follow the high and if I wait a bit longer the pendulum will swing... and perhaps next week I can write about what a fab time he's having and how all these troubles were just minor glitches along the way and now he's deliriously happy and we're so glad we made this choice.

It could happen.

And I really REALLY don't want to be one of those people who complains all the time, so let's end this on a more positive note, shall we?

Let's see....
* We sat through two soccer games today on a most gorgeous, sunny, 70 degree day.
* I had a long lazy morning drinking coffee, watering plants, and reading blogs while the sun streamed in my window.
* All my boys are busy watching football, playing drums, laughing and enjoying a relaxing Saturday evening.
* I spent the day with my mom and we got some heavy-duty chatting time.
* I love my boys and they love me.

So Amen. Blessed Be. Namaste. Lord Let Things Get Better. And All That.


Barb said...

I'm convinced that no matter what we do, even if it's our best, that we will regret something. My older girl has been in public school since Kindergarten--when she had already mastered the curriculum for the forthcoming three years. I didn't think I could homeschool her or even UN-school her (certainly not and stay married.) So, we've muddled along. It's not ideal. Ideal would be Albert Einstien teaching my kid one-on-one. Since that ain't happening, we've muddled on. And the thing I keep coming back to is this: she's HAPPY. And honestly? I think that's the point of childhood.

Um. He looks pretty happy?

gemma said...

When I was doing the high school gig, I did just enough to get by. I had 8 years of practice though, so all I really had to do once I became a freshman, was hone my butt-kissing skills and thank my lucky stars that I was almost done! I can imagine just how fed up Brady must feel, but I have a feeling he will find his feet quickly. I used to comfort myself by thinking that none of the math homework that was making me weary was going to matter to me in 10 years--and it doesn't! But I am glad I have memories of hallways and lockers....and cafeterias and what it means to walk into the sunshine at 3:30....and onto a field with my teammates and my school's jersey on my back. That is a rich experience and you are going to be there with him to help him out...and it is going to be marvelous.

And varsity as a freshman! I am very impressed.

kelli said...

If he wants to leave school, can he still play on the team as a homeschooler?

I know there are kids who do that at other schools.

Roxanne said...

Laura-I can sooo relate- our oldest (now 21) choose to go to school and it was so hard watching him stress out over homework, grades, etc. How's he doing now? Post an update when you can.