The Test

We homeschool. We have always homeschooled. I can’t remember a time when we weren’t in a learning mode. I will admit I have overdone it at times. I read to him in utero, as a baby I read to him poetry, and as a toddler we read the Greek myths and Tales of the Arabian Nights.

“That’s not so bad.” You say.

When he was in his “repeat everything you say” phase, I took this as a teachable moment.

“It’s not polite to mimicking people.” I’d say when I’d had enough.

“Not polite to mimin people.” He’d repeat.

“Okay, that’s enough.”

“Kay tats enough”

“Seriously, stop.”

“Seriousy stop.”

“You asked for it.”

(He’d giggle.) “You ask for it.”

“The quality of mercy is not strained;”

“Quality mercy not strain”

“it dropeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

“Drop et gentle rain from heaven”

“…upon the place beneath.”

“pond place be neath”

By the time he was four he knew a few poems and bits of Shakespeare. Granted, encouraging my child to remain in the “repeat me” phase by having him recite from The Merchant of Venice is a bit sneaky and self serving, but looking back, he didn’t suffer horribly from it.

Think I go overboard yet? How’s about a poster of the Periodic Table in the guest bath? Large cards with random dots from 1 to 100 that I’d name one by one to a 3 month old? Every aspect of his life thus far has been filled with learning opportunities. Placemats, t-shirts, posters, learning cards in the car…all subliminally feeding his little mind.

As he matured, I added Chinese Language magnets to the refrigerator, educational treasure hunts that even his friends loved; everything I could think of to stuff that growing brain full of knowledge in a fun way. A goldfish named Galileo, trips to the opera, (and sitting through the libretto), and through it all he never complained. When he didn’t feel like school, we’d do something else. This usually brought criticism from family and friends. “Shouldn’t he be in school? It’s not right..not normal.”  But I stuck to my weird way of unschooling. (Noting that people were more interested in my kid’s education than I was about their’s.)

Now it is time for my method to be put to the test. His first Parent-Teacher Conference as a big boy in a new, and very competative, school. He now goes almost full time and studies at home part time. I was a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. What if I did it wrong? What if I forgot something he should know at this age? What if he is not socially mature? What if I just plain blow chunks at being a teacher?

As I pulled up to the school, I looked in the mirror to make sure my hair was neat. I sat in the van for a while; trying to muster the courage to go in. Will they tell me he doesn’t fit in? Not making friends? Being bullied?

He rides his mobility scooter at school, I was sure he’d get some teasing from the other kids.

A thousand things ran through my head.

Finally, I got out and walked toward the school. A group of giggling, long legged cheerleaders ran in ahead of me.

“Jax probably comes up to their elbows….what have I done?”

Inside this gigantic school was a choice of four hallways. I looked for signs to guide me.– Leave it to me to park at the wrong entrance. I asked some boys in basketball uniforms for directions. All of the kids are so tall….and there are so many of them.

I found my way to the smaller gym where rows of teachers chattered to hoards of parents. I walked to the main table.

“You’re Jax’s mom!”

“That’s me.”

“He was caught charging kids for rides on his scooter.”

“We’ve had this problem before, I’ll talk to him.” I smiled nervously.

Each teacher I encountered, along with a janitor, a security guard, and a teacher’s aid, had a story to tell about my boy. The Language Arts teacher and History teacher talked to me about advanced classes.

“He’s way ahead. He’s already read the books we are reading.” Said Mrs. Beaumen, his English teacher.

“There’s no problems?” I asked sheepishly.

She touched my arm, “You did good mom.”

The words I dreamed of hearing.

Next was math.

“We are always concerned when a home schooled student enters our school. It is normal for them to not be socialized, to be awkward around the other students.” She began as my excitement dwindled. “Your son is … well…how to I put this…a social butterfly.”

Huh?

“He has blended right in with everyone else. I am surprised that he is so out going.” She said. “I would not have guessed he was homeschooled.”

“Not immature, and not shy, like we expect from homeschool students.” Said the science teacher. “Everybody likes him. He’s just one of the guys.”

“He does this thing, where he pulls out a box of Tic-Tacs and shoots them to his classmates,” one teacher reported, “and to me.”

“I am so sorry…” I started.

“No! It’s hillarious…keep him in Tic-Tacs, mom.”

“One day, he didn’t finish the assignment and asked to have more time,” started another teacher, “I couldn’t say no:  he had his phone out and ‘sad violin music’ was playing when he asked.” He’d laughed. “How can you say no to that?”

“He has a way with people. It’s hard to explain.” Said the principal. “He’s very outgoing, everybody likes him.”

As I listened to each story, I was taken aback, just soaking it all in. I came with the expectation of surfacing problems to be solved.

But everything is fine.

I left with a feeling of pride and excitement. I couldn’t wait to get home. I told Jax everything I had heard, and the compliments I’d received. “They said I was a good teacher!” I exclaimed.

Jax gave me a sly look, “So this is really about stroking your ego…”, then he laughed.

“Okay, I’m a little pumped, I just wasn’t expecting it.” I answered. “Jax, I was so proud. This wasn’t me, it is all you- you did all of it. I couldn’t be more proud of you.”

“I DID teach you Algebra.” He’d said with a smile.

“You did. I think I learned as much from you as you did from me.”

“Can we take down the times tables poster above my bed now? I think I’ve proven that I’ve mastered that.”

“Sure, baby.”

I already ordered a cell structure poster to put in its place.