I hardly know how to talk about this without dragging out overused clichés and maudlin meanderings of the mind. “What’s a mother to do?!” My baby is graduating from college tomorrow. Never mind that “my baby” is actually a happily married man with an adorable baby of his own and a home and a good job. He’s only 23 and I still want to know how the years passed so quickly!
The first time I felt like this was when Matthew, our oldest son, graduated from high school. I was stunned at the speed with which his school days had passed. That was a big part of the reason we decided to home-school Monica and David. If the time was going to pass that quickly I wanted to be in on more of the fun!
And what fun we had! Delight-directed education. We turned meal planning and grocery shopping into math lessons. Reading books aloud every time we were in the car… playing Scrabble and calling it “spelling”…and of course, we did a fair amount of “real” school work.
One of my favourite home school memories happened exactly ten years ago. One morning a Modesto city employee came to the door and asked us to move our cars because they were going to be trimming the trees on our street. Thirteen-year-old David asked if he could go out and watch them, but I said “No, we need to get started with school.”
“How about if I watch them and write a report about it?” (The kid was so sly!)
David went out and introduced himself to the tree trimmers and asked if he could interview them and take a few pictures. The men were very accommodating. David got their address and told them, “I’ll send you a copy of my report after my mom grades it.”
He did send a copy of his report to the Modesto Urban Forestry Department, and about two weeks later we got a call from the City Manager’s office. The report had been forwarded to them and they asked if David could come down to City Hall and speak with someone in that department. We were so excited! Apparently someone wanted to publish David’s paper!
Sitting down with the City Manager’s Assistant, she told us what she had in mind. They were looking for a young person to write a series of articles for “City Pride, Citywide” an insert that went into the Modesto utility bills every month. The articles were to be about all kinds of city issues from a “child’s” point of view. Would David be interested? Would he!!!!
That interview grew into an amazing opportunity for David. For the next three years he wrote an article every month. He wrote about a hamster that was rescued from a storm drain, and how storm drains work. He interviewed our friend Chuck Bergquist, a firefighter. He went on a police ride-along, visited a waste-to-energy plant, the water treatment facility and wrote about all kinds of parks and recreation issues. And much more. It was home-schooling at its best!
And tomorrow he graduates. “My baby” has grown up.
Even though John and I have technically been “empty nesters” for a few months now, this feels like some kind of rite of passage into that place. The last little bird is off in full flight.
Matthew, with his brilliant mind, and no love for school is a successful journeyman electrician. Monica graduated from Liberty University with honors, and has a great job and a bright future. And tomorrow my baby will walk across the stage and get his diploma from CSUS.
Mission accomplished! ( Now bring on the grandkids! )