Austin is the handsome lad in the red tie.
For most, graduating from junior high school is not that big of a deal. You show up every day (in the kitchen for homeschoolers like mine) and you do the work. Then BAM! You graduate. Austin told me in January that he “didn’t want to do that stupid graduation thing.” “Fine,” I replied. And thought that it would be painful to force him… and relieved that we didn’t have to go through it either. THEN, Rick and I were accepted on the AFHE Board (AZ Families for Home Education) … and our tune changed. We found out that AFHE puts on a junior high graduate recognition ceremony at the Phx. Civic Center…. and being board members, we thought we should give it a go. So we signed up Austin and didn’t tell him for more than two months. We didn’t want to torture him for more than seven days.
Yes, that’s the rat face. As it happened, the graduation was on Friday night so we told Austin that he would be participating on the Sunday night right before the ceremony. I was a little surprised by his nonchalant response. I suspect that he was secretly disappointed that we didn’t do any of that stupid graduation stuff. The ceremony was first class with over 60 grads. Even the speaker was good! Then we had an open house for Austin and invited all those who have participated in his life. A great time was had by all.
The little trophy on the right is from Austin dominating in a marshmallow eating contest. Makes a mama proud. Speaking of being a mama, when my first homeschool child graduated from junior high, I felt like I had succeeded. I had successfully guided a child through elementary and junior high school and most of my hair had not been pulled out of my head by my own hands. I distinctly remember congratulating the other moms in the crowd. We did it! This time, however, it was much more an example of God’s mercy and love …. getting THIS child through eight years of home instruction. Austin didn’t learn to read until he was eight years old and the only reason he even started THEN was because his younger brother started before him. It wasn’t for my lack of trying either. In his kindergarten year, I checked back through my daily plans and I had shown him the letter F 67 days in a row… and there was no recognition AT ALL. My husband, the principal of our homeschool, was called in at that time and I handed in my resignation. He refused to accept it and I had to have a parent-teacher conference in the bathroom mirror. I prayed like all good homeschooling moms pray, “Dear God, Don’t let me wreck this kid. Please.”
An amazing occurence transpired in spite of a tragedy. When Austin was in third grade (and doing grade 5 math with me reading aloud all the word problems to him) my husband, the principal of our homeschool, separated his Achille’s tendon and was off work for three months. Being homeschoolers with no strings attached, we went on a “21 National Parks“ field trip of the western side of the U.S.A. from April to June. We did take a bit of math with us. We did listen to multiple audio books. We did chart the moon’s cycles. We did see AWESOME sights that God had made for us to behold. But no teaching was forthcoming for three months. Just like God to show that Austin’s learning had NOTHING to do with me…. it was on that trip that Austin learned to read.
As homeschool parents, we chose this path for training our kids in Godliness and character development. Those were more important to us than learning how to line up, raise your hand, ask to go to the bathroom, and grammar, quite frankly. We have been rewarded by God filling in the gaps where we have fallen short. God gave us these kids to impact for eternity and it’s a pleasure and challenge to spend most of their early years with them.
Congratulations, Austin. We are so proud of you, dude.