Monday, 8 April 2013

Wide Horizons

Boscombe Pier, Wednesday
There have been some pretty amazing skies in Dorset lately. On Sunday morning Max and I drove to the airport and the sunrise colours changed every minute. Pink, golden; the mist rose in the New Forest; trees were silhouetted against the backdrop; golden, orange, silver. We kept saying, "Look, look!"

And then I kissed my youngest son goodbye, and he went off with the cabin crew, with his waterproof backpack and his journal and his knife (safely stowed in checked luggage) for A MONTH off. He is going to have an adventure, and my only instruction to him (apart from "You are the most valuable thing in my life. It's okay if you lose your shoes, drop your backpack in the river, and let your expensive tablet sink to the bottom of the sea. As long as YOU are safe and well") was to forget everything he thought he knew.

Max has been accepted to the same great school as his brothers, to start in September, which means I am the mother of three officially very intelligent children. I am not sure how this happened. I have spent most of their lives letting them skyve off school whenever they faked sick, taking them to work with me, reading them pointless and un-educational stories, learning nonsense poems by heart and teaching them to cook and do yoga. Max didn't know all of his letters when he started primary school, and was way behind other kids. At one point, Sam announced that Tuesdays were the worst day ever because of stupid Comprehension, his most hated subject. My solution was to just not send him to school on Tuesdays for the rest of the school year - instead we went plein aire painting with an artists' group. It was great for me, I sold several of my paintings as a result and had a lovely time with great artists and friends. I don't know what it did for Sam as we mostly handed him more paper and ignored him while he climbed a lot of trees, but he still got an 'A' in Comprehension so that was ok. Then I took them all out of school completely for a while, and much fun was had learning to jump rope with a pogo stick and such, and spending time with wise friends and family who taught things you don't learn at school.

Discussing the meaning of life at a riverbank
Schools in the UK are way more fussy about missed days than our much loved and very tolerant Trini school was. So I applied to the correct authorities for Max to have a lot of time off, and hooray, they said yes. His headmistress laughed merrily when I defiantly said he would be thoroughly un-educated.

It occurred to me the other day that teenagers generally rebel against their parents, so perhaps my older boys' love for school, their strong ambition, their choosing of a huge workload of many hard subjects and their sensible talk of future plans for becoming settled millionaires, is sort of a rebellion against their semi-schooled upbringing and my cries that they should not sell out to the highest bidder. I say they should be free, be themselves, be creative! They patiently explain that physics and engineering and a good pension plan are the keys to happiness. It's their version of rebellion.

Or maybe, they saw me struggling with the realities of life in the bush, struggling to pay the bills, giving my time for free to good causes, flexible-ish to head to into the rainforest at the drop of a hat. Now that I've settled into a very stable English life with a steady income and hot water and other modern conveniences, maybe they think I'm happier? Happiness is not where you are or what you are doing. I am in this place, in this time, so that the boys can do this education thing. I'm giving them options, to be whatever they want to be. Of course I am happy. And I love to see the boys blossoming into young men, exploring all of their worlds and widening all their horizons. May they use their gifts well.

'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' - Nelson Mandela
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Reading over my ramblings above, I think I have a lot more to say on the topic of education, but I'll stop for now and think about it a bit. What do you think about education? Meanwhile, back on the home front, Sam has just learned how to clean up coconut milk from the carpet. Tomorrow our Riverford delivery will arrive, local organic free range produce and things. Including MEAT because the towering and muscly Sam says he needs meat. He has taken over most of the cooking for the Easter holiday. I've gone all vegetarian again after the sausages-wrapped-in-bacon experience of last week, so I'll stick with beans! Also, my sister has just sent me a link for the handbag of awesome! But it's expensive. Hmm.

2 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You did well. Such marvelous, accomplished and delightful sons. Great work, Nan!
Congratulations on all of it--living the life YOU wanted and giving them unparallelled experiences and an education.

Nan Sheppard said...

Thank you! I've often doubted myself... I still do! When I see smiles I think it's okay :)