Oh, I know. I am a few days late. But I get a pass because I am recovering from a busy, crazy week previously. I finally completed a grant application (for me) and my 14-year-old had several band obligations and two concerts the last two weeks of school.
The biggest event was my second-to-last son’s graduation from high school last week after being sick with Lyme encephalopathy his sophomore year and then severe radial neuropathy in his left arm during his junior year. Other than some difficulties with reading comprehension he has completely recovered, made up 10 missing credits in his senior year, and graduated from high school. I fully support his desire to take a year off to just work, save money, and enjoy life, because this son of mine is physically and emotionally exhausted. There is no doubt that he will go to college, as will his older brother, but he needs to be invested in the process before choosing a school, a major, and a new life journey. There is no rush.
What is our summer looking like? It is precarious in many ways.
I am taking a communication course that ends the first week in August. I am hoping to fly to Texas in the middle of August to see my family there. And I have my vegetable garden.
For my youngest son, the one who starts 8th grade in a couple of months, I am requiring that he practice trombone several times a week. There are reading and writing skills to keep fresh over the summer, too.
Yesterday, after listening to radio reports on what is going on in Iraq on the way to my son’s orthodontist appointment (my son now knows who Secretary of State John Kerry is), I asked him what he thought his life would be like if he had been born a Syrian boy or Iraqi boy, what it would be like for him if he had already been forced to pick up arms and fight with some faction or other. He had a difficult time even considering what that would mean. He finally replied after a couple minutes of thinking about my question: “I would be a different person.” I mused that it would be a great project for someone my son’s age to write a series of short stories based on the lives of teenagers from some of the most politically unstable areas in our world. My son replied, “Sounds like you want to write those stories.” I chuckled and asked him what he would like to write about this summer (he loves to write). He admitted that he would like to work on one of his two novels. I smiled. It’s a plan.
On the way home from that appointment, we stopped at our favorite public library. My son had read all of the books on his bookshelf and he didn’t feel like digging through boxes of books stored downstairs. He was thrilled to visit the library because they have a great collection of Brian Jacques’ Redwall books. He chose The Long Patrol, we chatted with the children’s librarian for a few minutes, and then we headed home. Along with some daily chores, this son’s summer was somewhat structured.
I must share something that my son told me yesterday. We were walking out of the library his book in hand, and my son said that he craved good writing like Jacques after reading several classroom books, popular fiction that his language arts teacher provided for the kids apart from the school library. He said that the quality of writing was so far below Jacques that he was craving some good writing. He said he never had to look up any words from the classroom books, but did when he read books from the Redwall series. We talked about the difference between popular fiction and more classic fiction, and the differences in style and quality. I am proud of my son, that he is able to discern between easy reads, popular works that are like junk food, and more substantial, meaty works that make one think and learn.
Side note: I just read that Brian Jacques started the Redwall series to read aloud to blind students. Apparently, the writing is full of sensory information about what the characters see, hear, feel and even taste. It makes so much sense that these stories would appeal to this son of mine. So much sense.
Melting snowdrifts with grassy knolls poking through made a patchwork of the far east lands as winter surrendered its icy grip of the earth to oncoming spring. Snowdrop, chickweed, and shepherd’s purse nodded gratefully beneath a bright mid-morning sun, which beamed through small islands of breeze-chased clouds. Carrying half-melted icicles along, a tinkling, chuckling stream bounded from rocky cliff ledges, meandering around fir and pine groves toward broad open plains.
– The Long Patrol, Chapter 1 by Brian Jacques
If I was a 14-year-old teenager who loved words, I would enjoy Jacques’ books, too. As a matter of fact, I might just read Redwall myself.