I’m back in school. Middle school, that is. But without the acne breakouts and the angst of unrequited love. I’m going with my oldest son. Isn’t that what every 8th grade boy secretly desires? His mom coming to school with him?
Actually, he doesn’t mind. One of the benefits of home schooling is that generally, kids are just as comfortable around their peers as they are around grownups. I’m so proud of the way he can approach grownups (even strangers!) and just start conversations, when many other 13 ½ year olds would recoil at the mere thought. Like any wise grownup, however, I have to know when to back off. Did I mention he invited a girl over for dinner tonight? His first “She’s just my friend, Mom”. Backing off now…
About school, though…I’m taking my second year of Latin at our home school co-op. I started auditing the class (yay, no tests!) last October, as Nathan was having a bit of trouble (standard middle-school boy protocol) organizing himself, and I wanted to know what was happening in class so I could help him.
Oh what fun! Seriously, Latin is fun. (Especially when there are no tests.) Unfortunately, with everything else I do (don’t make me list it – I’ll probably collapse from exhaustion), I don’t have much (really, any) free time. So this past summer I made a very serious attempt to get my noun declensions, verb conjugations, principle parts memorized.
I was horrified to discover that they don’t stick in my brain very well. When I was in high school and college, I was a good student. I even graduated with honors. I didn’t have to study that hard. Things I put into my head just stayed there without a lot of coaxing or threatening. Now I feel like I’ve got Swiss cheese inside my skull instead of grey matter.
I was concerned enough to speak to my doctor about it at my last appointment. He just looked at me and said, “But Analiisa, you’re 43.” Of course, he mentioned that I do carry around a lot more information and responsibilities now than when I was just a student, but I got stuck on the now-that-I’m-43-my-brain’s-not-working-as-well-as-23 idea.
But then on the way home, I got to thinking about my other home school co-op class – band. And how I picked up my Euphonium after 20 years (now that was a useful degree!) and played like it had been just 20 days. And how earlier this year I was instructing the beginning trombones on how to put their instruments together and make a sound and find positions and I remembered the whole process without any effort.
All that stuff I had put in my brain when I was young and used a lot when I was young has stayed there, and came back to me when I needed it. Which goes along with everything I’ve ever told you about why early introduction to music is important.
Because after about age 8, the neural pathways that aren’t used much begin to be pruned away. I’ve been exposed to music from the womb. And although knowing Latin at 16 would have been helpful on my SAT’s, when I get old and gray(er), I want music to be the thing I forget last. It brings me such deep, abiding joy. Latin won’t really matter anymore. Neither will calculus. Or chemistry.
So I ask you, what are you gifting your children with now? It’ll be the thing they can return to for pleasure and comfort when they are 43 and 83. Choose wisely.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who is off to prepare the menu hand-picked by Nathan: Fresh-caught Alaskan Halibut, Autumn Harvest salad, artisan bread with Dubliner cheese, and homemade brownie sundaes. He has such good taste! (In girls and food.)