I was a pretty normal kid. During my younger years I developed a sense of identity that a key event then turned on its ear. For me, I was a “smart kid” who went to college and quickly realized just how average I was. Now I know that I was not alone. A wake-up call of sorts happens to everybody – the trick is what you do after you’ve been schooled.
And never forget that parenting is a good chance to be schooled, over and over again.
For nearly 10 years, my oldest son has been schooling me in what matters most. I can remember seeing a film before becoming a mom and not even noticing what netted the movie an “R” rating. Nowdays, you can believe I notice that kind of stuff. I especially notice the scary things – things that will keep my son up at night replaying scenes in his head. Except that scary for my son may not be scary for your son or anybody else’s for that matter. Because he is the kind of boy who begs to understand the “but why?” factors that some other kids don’t even notice.
For us, entering our son into the “real world” has been a long, slow process with lots of tears for all of us. We are in that tug-of-war between protecting him and trying to expose him to things in ways we can control.
Take Harry Potter for instance. My son loved that series but got interested in it before he was confident enough to read such a thick book, so I read the series to him. And I edited out the deaths of kids or manipulated bits of the action to change a death into an injury. I figured J.K. Rowling would understand. But I forgot one important thing about my son: it isn’t always the obvious that really upsets him. So in book seven, I read a line verbatium and a “minor character’s” death just about sent him over the edge.
“Why did Ms. Rowling have to kill him? He was just a little kid. And I liked him.”
It seems my son has been schooled already. He lets the characters come alive in his heart and mind and identifies with their feelings. He feels for them.
All this is to explain why I just finished reading my son’s book club selection, Schooled by Gordon Korman. My son finished it last night and announced, “I really like it Mom, it’s good” but I noticed his eyes were more shiny than usual. So this morning I reheated the rest of the pot of coffee and read it. And my eyes were shiny by the end as well.
Sometimes, it is important to allow yourself to be schooled by the unexpected teachable moments and things. Some events shouldn’t be edited or cast in a new light. Some should just be what they are. And the important part of the schooling is to feel – for that is what will unite us all – little, big, smart, not-so-smart.
Thank you Isaac for schooling me so well for all these years. You are one of my favorite teachers.