This fall I’ll be doing something I have never, ever done. I’m taking my eldest son, Tre, to a local high school, and I’m letting them take the educational reins. It’s not just the high school thing, understand. He’s never gone to a brick-and-mortar school, having been homeschooled since he was a tiny little boy who did his phonics lessons sitting on my lap, the puppy dog smelling top of his head nestled under my chin. He never even went to preschool. It’s been all us, all along.
Want to talk about outside your comfort zone? This past weekend Tre went to his new-to-be school and took a math placement exam. He’s really hoping to start 9th grade in Algebra II, but needs to show that he can hack it before they’ll let him. The morning of the test I was all sweaty-palmed about people judging him (me) and deciding if he (I) had done ANY of this school business right (or if I was an utter failure). He, on the other hand, was just a little annoyed at being awake so early on a Saturday.
In truth, the math exam is the least of my worries. During the school year they’ll be giving him multiple proficiency tests. They’re computer administrated, with a slick program that adjusts to the student’s responses to give a highly individualized picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. When we were talking to the school administrator about this, he said, with great enthusiasm, “It’s a fabulous tool for showing exactly where the gaps are in their education.”
In other words, it’s a fabulous tool for revealing every way I have failed him. At least educationally. The emotional failings will come to the fore when he starts dating, I’m sure.
When Tre got home from his math test, I asked with absolute studied casualness him how it went.
“Oh, fine,” he said, making a beeline for the fridge. “The algebra I stuff was easy. The algebra II stuff was hard, but I’ve never done it before, so it was supposed to be.”
Well. How did HE get so smart, all of a sudden? Some things, especially new things, are supposed to be hard.
What does this have to do with our challenge here? Well, the writing. I have been writing. What I haven’t been doing a very good job of is letting anyone else SEE what I’m writing. Because there are gaps, if you will. It seems I’m not perfect.
This week the possibility of a writing job presented itself. And although I said yes, please and I hope it works out, I’m petrefied. I’d be working with Real Writers, women I truly admire. I don’t think I’m in their league, not by a long shot. I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of them. I worry that I’m not capable enough.
But Tre is right. I’ve never done this before, and it’s supposed to be hard. And just like I know that the educational challenges before him next year are really a good thing, this cliff I’m on the edge of is also a good thing. There is no growth without discomfort.
So I’m going to strive to be like my 14-year-old son, and just go ahead and do it. I suppose that means now I have to go eat a sandwich the size of my head and then randomly punch another teenaged boy, but no one ever said the whole journey would make sense, am I right?