05 October 2012

school daze: gorilla in the midst

{herein lies the 3rd of a 4 part series on our schooling experience. if you would like to read the other two, kindly go here and here.}

how the natives best concentrate

studying more about sociology is something i would someday like to pursue. perhaps that is because i took an amazing sociology class as an undergraduate. the professor was compelling and kind. for some reason the most remembered aspect of her class was the story she told of her own daughter's wedding.

this sociology professor at this large midwestern college was quite literally shut out from her daughter's most important day, her wedding. because her daughter had decided to marry a man who was mormon and her mother was not, this sociology professor was not invited to the nuptials of her beloved daughter. the shock and confusion still pierce as i think how hurtful this must've been for this vulnerable mother who felt this part of her life was worth sharing with a classroom of kids who were her students. 

what does this have to do with my third post on homeschooling you might wonder. well, a lot actually. 

that story and that sociology class made me long to understand people. and my deep desire to understand people is another reason why i decided to try to understand my people, my children. the best way i found to understand them is by studying them, learning with them, and occasionally teaching them.

when my sociology professor mentioned the newly adopted religious beliefs of her daughter, i questioned exclusivity. what mores would one have to adopt and accept to make this seem reasonable? my own faith beliefs are of inclusion. including and inviting. this component of the mormon church still mystifies me. 

before i became a mother, i was an elementary school teacher. my third son is not unlike some of the students whom i taught when i was a free{educational}agent only they were female and named jennifer. he is my most emotional child with two settings: off and on. there is really no gray with harry. there is no revving up. he is on full throttle. or he is asleep.
still struggles with reading, but sweets help him persevere

when he turned 7 i realized his reading wasn't advancing like i thought it should so i asked a friend who happens to be a reading specialist to come hear him read. her assessment was that he just needed to have lots of repetition in his reading. "have him read and reread the same book." in addition she suggested, "have him take a new piece of literature and scan it for words that are unfamiliar. then have him decode the word." wow. okay. that is sort of what i have being doing with him all along. repetition, scanning for difficulty and then decoding {him}.

somedays i feel like dian fossey amongst the gorillas-waiting for this particular primate to make advances that can be recorded and examined. "is he making progress?" "does he know how to grasp this concept?" "is it developmental or laziness?" perhaps i am a sociologist{or primatologist} after all. 

this quirky boy of 9 sees and hears and feels things on a different plane than most. he modulates his mood to fit his observation. nothing gentles him like nature. and nothing impassions him like nature. recently we were sitting in our school room which happens to be a sun porch, a room that is literally all windows. how distracting this can be when the squirrels and birds are showing off, but how delightful too. this boy-who-claims-he-needs-glasses noticed the tiniest chrysalis hanging on the branch in our neighbor's yard. he kept trying to point it out, but my failing eyes could not make out the treasure. i strained. i tried, but it would not register in my view. i finally did the most despicable thing a parent can do. i lied. "o, yes. wow. how tiny. how magnificent you were able to spot that!" 

i still don't know if he saw an actual chrysalis. it seems out of season for that kind of metamorphosis. but what he saw or thought he saw is still telling. he saw magic and wanted to share it with me! 
with me! 

that is how i feel most days with this boy. magic. trying to see. trying to hear. trying to communicate with my gorilla in the mist who is in my midst. this boy who can spot the tiny magic in the neighbor's yard, but cannot see the box of cream cheese in our refrigerator. the one right in front of his eyes. he is a mystery to me.

and this mystery is teaching me: to hear, to see, to feel, to touch and enjoy.

truth be told it's my boys who have been schooling me at home. and this boy-our third son's lessons are on patience and laughter and grace. lots and lots of grace with a gracious amount of tomfoolery smeared on for good measure. 

learning to see-the chrysalis in the tree regardless if it's actually there. appreciating the birds of the air. and taking copious notes to keep up. i am still learning. there is so much more to learn.


{next friday i will be ending this 4 part series on our choice to school in our one room schoolhouse-the place i affectionately refer to as the cottage-on-the-hill. i hope you come back to read the finale.} 

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