My 14 year old son is graduating from 8th grade this Saturday, from The Khabele School here in Austin. Khabele is a brilliant, funky, cool school where my brilliant and cool son has found a home, although he doesn’t think so. He is a musician. That is his passion, his love, and where his extreme talent and focus lie. He’s really good and I’m really jealous that he found his passion at 12 and I’m 49 and I’m still not sure who I want to be when I grow up.
School for the boy is a nuisance. He has fleeting interest in going to school, mostly for the social scene and fun times. He doesn’t understand why he has to learn, for example, algebra. Or history. Only because he loves Led Zeppelin and Jack White and he wants to be able to write music with lyrics, does he enjoy English class. Plus, he is a good–sometimes great–writer. But he doesn’t even like to read.
I don’t understand this thinking. I loved school: I loved studying and learning and new notebooks and pens. I still do. If I could do anything, I would read all day long. I read at least two novels a week, and that’s only because I can only read in passing or before bed–which is hard because usually I have a lot of television to catch up on. Learning, reading, knowing, doing. I love all of these.
If “he” was a “she”, I think we would have been shopping for an outfit to wear on Saturday. There would be a discussion about hair, makeup, nails. I understand all of this, because I’m a girl. For girls, these are the distractions for “moments”. The fussing helps us quell our nerves about an event, our place in the world, and how to handle ourselves. I wish I knew what boys did–they seem to have only three gears, ecstatic, comatose or angry–and most of the emotions are lumped under “angry”.
So now it’s graduation time for the boy. Just as he is growing taller and stronger of body, he is growing stronger and surer of mind and moving to the final phase of his school career. He is completely unconcerned and unaffected by the pageantry of this time. He doesn’t even want to go to the graduation and award ceremony–his exact words were, “what will they give me an award for–being the most sarcastic kid in class?” Maybe. That should be an award, because behind sarcasm is wit and humor. A friend whose child also goes to Khabele but is older said that each child has something said about them as they pass across the stage, because each child is unique and has their own gift to give the world. We’ll see.