Every year about this time I give thanks that the idea of learning at home came into our lives. ( I actually give thanks quite often for this blessing but it always seems more top-of-mind at this time of year) The other night I was thinking that this year W would have started attending the local middle school (middle school!!! when did he get so big?) and I felt it was important to be extra grateful that he was not. I do feel that he would have been forever changed by the things he would experience at middle school and I don't think most of those changes would have been positive. It isn't that I think he isn't changing all the time now anyway, he is, of course, but the changes are gradual, they are more internal, they are all a part of him and his needs, not based on peers and their expectations. I am so happy to be a part of his growing and pleased that I get to witness the ways in which he is changing and learning more about himself. I love that he is able to do this in such a natural way without any of these changes happening based only on peers or popular culture. I can't actually remember a sort of "aha" moment when I knew that my kids wouldn't go to school, they just never did. It felt very natural for them to continue learning at home, just as they always had, and to never go to school. I feel as though we are on a new part of our journey now, or that W is and so I am a part of it. Rather like watching seeds that you have planted and you've known that they pushed down roots. You thrilled watching while their stems poked up with some seed leaves on, and watched them unfurl with pride. Then stepped back a little and watched the subsequent leaves appear, noting that perhaps they were a little different from the seed leaves. Now I feel as though these roots and leaves are in place, a sturdy little plant, and I can step back even more to wait and watch and see how the flower bud appears and grows, knowing that very soon there will be even more, perhaps fruit or a stunning flower or...who knows? It is an exciting time, I think. I feel as though my boys are incredibly lucky to have this time to know themselves in this way, especially in that they have no idea how lucky they are.
I remember reading something, and I don't recall who but I think perhaps it was Emerson or Thoreau, speaking about their education and saying how they thought of it as a tree, and that they had been taught all the limbs of the tree but none of the roots. None of the roots!? I feel as though that is a good analogy to the way my guys are learning. They really are learning the roots. They are learning the roots of themselves too, I think, and then they are given the time and the freedom to figure out where and how their limbs will grow, with a lot of support from me. I like it, I like it very much. And so I count my blessings...for my wonderful boys, for a husband who supports what we are doing, for living in a place where this is so easy, for parents who understand, and for an incredible community of people who "get" us and what we are about. We are very lucky indeed.