That’s A Wrap… And One Last Lesson…

I’ve lost count how many years have passed.

It seems like a blur.

I feel like I am standing still in the middle of crowd as people walked passed me – not brushing or bumping – but just passing by me.

I feel tired and drained, but relieved and joyous. I am not feeling nostalgic or sad – but I do feel scared. I look haggard.

My son graduates on Saturday. That is, note dear reader, tomorrow.

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Our journey began when we when middle school wasn’t working for us. In 2011, my son didn’t “bounce” well at our local middle school. Of course, he had just survived a divorce (2010) and a surprise “Mom has met someone” in 2011, where I blended a family in five months. So, sixth grade wasn’t a good start. We decided on private school – a very small one – and he was happy there. It was a good situation – where I am still good friends with the headmistress to this day. She had mentioned “homeschool” once to me and I commented that during in the spring, summer, and fall of 1988, I had been homeschooled due to the Georgia Basic Skills Test. I had failed the math twice – and I had a possible learning disability. Homeschool gave me the one on one ability to get help and members of our church provided my public school teaching parents the idea. My parents, note, taught public school during that time – but I was at home, with my grandmother, tutor, and the local public library to do my school work. We used Abeka.

Little did I know, that day I left Romy Strickland’s office, would I end up spending four years of my life as a full-time homeschool educator. My background is a PreK-12 grade certified, experienced school library media specialist. With the years in public school being at year #17, I had never been a stay at home mother – but a working one. I am an excellent educator: but I never knew my hardest student – and hardest years – would be educating my Ian.

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Ever try to educate your mini-me at ages 14-17? I would quickly learn why my mother was frustrated in 1988 – and said I was her hardest student. Her words? “You are getting it back – I’m enjoying this…” Not all days were bad or hard – but I look back and I could do some choices better or chosen some things different.  I should have been more patient. I should have allowed him more say so in his literature. We should have done more Move On When Ready than we did. Excuse me, note I say “we,” well, in homeschool, it is a “we” because the parent is the teacher, principal, coach, school counselor, librarian, etc. But life is 20/20 anyway. Ian’s pensive face in this picture may agree.

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In one day, my son graduates from homeschool – we will forget his middle school years of “ping pong” of homeschool to public to online K12 school – but his high school years. My son did a traditional ninth grade homeschool year (all books) to a hybid double year of online classes for 10th and 11th grade. It was a cool year that year: the English and Social Studies classes were uniquely combined in a specialized way: for example, when he learned about American History in the area of the Industrial Revolution, we read Chicago by Carl Sandburg and wrote about the rise of American unions. A social studies rich curriculum were our tickets to get two years of World History/World Literature and American Literature/ American History completed in a positive year. It was probably the most unique curriculum I have ever came up with. We did our homeschool when we traveled too. Chemistry, Trig, Biology, etc were done with Time4Learning and Ian had a tutor with Time4Writing to work with his compositions.  His foreign language was done with Rosetta Stone and other resources.

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Besides the National History Bee, Ian is wrapping up his Eagle Scout, learned Krav Maga, enjoyed pursuing his musical ability, did dual enrollment for a year of Criminal Justice, and did dual enrollment in a semester of carpentry skills. He learned to ride a scooter and spent a year driving me around to learn how to drive. We must have driven Oak Hill Cemetery in Griffin for months, daily. Ian loved his scooter. He earned his driver’s license in June, 2016 the same week he started his first job as an usher in a movie theatre.

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He apprenticed in a first professional job as a control burner with Hill Forestry Management. He will return to his job in August after enjoying his summer off. Ian is doing a “gap year” before deciding on college or technical school. This is an example of the work he does as a control burner. He enjoys forestry – so it will be interesting Ian will decided to do after his gap year.

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Ian has maintained a 3.6 GPA with a technical and college prep diploma from George D. Carlin Memorial. He named his homeschooling high school “George D. Carlin Memorial” after this guy.

He traveled a good bit over the years, especially seeing Merle Haggard in his last concert, enjoyed Weird Al, and he also took a huge Eastern Kentucky tour to see where his people are from at Boonesborough. Here, he is at Brothers Again where his great great great grandfather is honored as a Confederate soldier who got galvanized, Sgt. Henry Combs.

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So many people are part of our journey:

Ian’s Krav Maga teacher, Tony Brown… I cannot thank him enough.

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Us – especially his stepfather for Math and Science Fair project (of which he came first place – it wasn’t publicized, but oh, the little email confirmed: it won – he decided not to go to Regionals, which upset me in my quest to show homeschool kids can kick butt. This was Ian at his State History Bee Competition that got him qualified for Nationals (the first time).

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Scouts – his friends gained Eagle and although he is a year younger, he will follow them very soon. He has Family Life to complete, his Scout project, and BOR. We hope Ian will be done by Christmas (and get his library card in September too… Note the reminder…).

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We won’t forget his mascots, Blau (now Juno and living in South Georgia) and of course, Teddy.

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We blended a family in these years.

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Now for the mini-lesson!

British Literature was calm waters this year – and I held back my favorite poem for my son until this blog. He skipped John Donne in British Literature because I treasure this poem above all others. What is it? Ian, please read it in Elizabethan English:

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Man nor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.t, let’s get it in the proper reading of Donne’s time. From: MEDITATION XVII Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne


John Donne was the opposite of us: he was reared Catholic but became an Anglican. I encourage you to read more on his life to see what caused his conversion during Elizabeth I and James I. He was married to the love of his life, but her constant childbearing killed her – with their last child. His early poetry tended to be a bit… naughty… but the older he got, the more proper he became and religiously bent. Yes, Ian, more of that stodgy British poetry you hated, but take this one in, like a breath of fresh air on a beautiful morning… (I’m working on little sleep, okay?): 

Now, try it in Modern English:

 No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

I am hoping my you remember the Hemingway usage in the second to the last line, but it is what this verse is saying to us. I always believed Donne was pointing out our earthly mortality – and other people’s mortality – and when we hear a funeral bell “toil” it is a reminder we are nearer to dying, each day. It can also mean that we should not be isolated from other people, but be active participants in one another’s lives – and that when someone dies physically, part of our own soul dies. My college professor, the great James Cook, was amused at my reference to the below commercial – because the goal is the same: everyone be part of something and not alone… I used the old Coke commercial of my youth. He laughed – it stuck with me.  Hey, it’s the last English lesson you will ever get from.

Think about the old Coke commercial I showed you a few years ago: care about your fellow man – and what his and your place in the world is about – and why you should care.

That is my last British Literature lesson to you, Ian,  and I wish you to be a “part of the main” for the rest of your life. Care about people. Love them. Accept people. Have patience. Practice kindness. Role-model. Have expectations – with a high tolerance for ambiguity too. Be happy – find your passions – do your passions. Marry someone you can talk to and kiss forever. In short, be happy, my son. When you have a bad day, open two Cokes and share with a friend – continue to be the friend you are.

Congratulations on your big day, Ian. I am very proud of you – and guess what?

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YOU did it!

Now, finish your Eagle!

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