Thursday, September 2, 2010

Navigating the strange new world of high school

I still have ridiculous dreams about high school. Or, maybe they should be considered nightmares (ones that I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with, but that's not the point here).

There's one dream I am in pink fuzzy slippers and told to go home and come back properly dressed. There's another where I can't remember my locker combination and I sit for hours missing every class just so I can open the blasted black metal compartment which in the end has nothing inside except a note from an old boyfriend. (Don't ask me what the note says, it's folded into a tiny, unmanageable triangle). Then there's the silliest dream of all, which is based on an actual student who stole my literature paper. In order to protect the innocent, suffice to say that the culprit ends up with a bunch of colored crepe paper wrapped about her body and mouth and is paraded about the school as punishment for her indiscretions.

One would think being a fairly sane woman, I would get over such pettiness. After all, it's been a quarter of a century since I left the hallowed halls of high school with a diploma in hand, extremely grateful to be moving on to the wonderfully wild college years. But my memories of being the 'queen of the geeks' die hard. And when your kid is now the same age you were when you got pigeon holed as 'Miss Goody Two Shoes' ala Adam Ant's song, it all comes back in a flooded mess.

As of Sept. 1, my Sam is technically a ninth grader. He's a high schooler in every sense of the word. He rolls his eyes when I ask for a hug. He pretends not to hear me when I call his name (until the third time when his name becomes a screechy -SAAAAAAMUUUUUEL!) He's not quite to the point where he thinks he knows more than I, but we're ONLY beginning high school.

And I use the plural WE because Sam and I are embarking on this thing called high school together. (No, I am not enrolling myself. That would be ANOTHER nightmare). We are homeschooling the high school years through an eclectic use of virtual school, other online courses and some really good books. I know what you're thinking, those dreams about high school have clouded my judgement. And maybe they have. But when your kid asks you point blank if he can stay home and focus on his studies for the next four years the choice to me is pretty evident.

What I love about my kid is he doesn't give a darn what other people think. (He's like his Daddy in that way). He wears what he wants (no stripes, logos or bright colors for him). He listens to the music he wants (1970s disco music ala KC and the Sunshine Band). He runs around the house like a banshee acting out his latest and greatest movie screenplay. He is his own man (if I dare say that).

His decision to stay home for high school has been a tough pill to swallow for all those involved. Friends and family have questioned the motives. Even my husband and I have wondered if it will stand the test of time, concerned we've let our child railroad us into what could end up regret.

As he sits across the room from me working on an economics course geared toward juniors and seniors in high school, I realize we're doing the right thing. We're letting him become the man he wants to be. The man he's meant to be.

And yes, he will have nightmares in the future of his high school years. They will probably entail his mother throwing a fit because he hasn't finished his geometry or left his 10-page paper on the intricacies of the supply/demand curve to the last minute.

Right now, though, I am smiling. I am thinking of this time together a gift. Watching him navigate his way into adulthood, choosing the courses, making a portfolio for his dream film school and giving him the time to do what he wants to try is intriguing.

It's going to be a bumpy path, as this is uncharted territory. It's a strange new world, this thing called high school. In the end, though, I know it will be quite an adventure. And this time around maybe I will actually enjoy the ride.