Last weekend, we drove to Iowa to celebrate my nephew Graham's high school graduation. I want to share some photos of Graham's artwork. He is a talented ceramicist with an affinity for science. Or is he a talented scientist with an affinity for art? It doesn't matter. His future is bright and time will tell which direction he takes.
But it is worth delving into his earlier days. This boy, born with mad dexterity, struggled in grade school to sit still at his desk. He couldn't always control his impulses. He was the type of student who could have fallen through the cracks in a standardized system that sometimes fails kids who don't fit the mold. But he didn't.
My sister is a former teacher with a master's degree in Special Education and even with her training, she parented her son in the most basic way -- by getting to know him. He learned differently so she put him in unusual classrooms. He took ceramics classes at the local museum. He joined robotics teams, attended explosions classes, learned to roll sushi. He volunteered as a blacksmith at an open-air museum. At summer camp, his woodcarving and weaving ruled the craft house.
There were special educators too, like the fifth grade teacher who let him fold origami during her lessons. She understood that when his hands were busy, his mind was engaged.
Graham blossomed. His artwork won awards. And he branched out. In the same way that he applied a laser focus to his artistic pursuits, he learned to channel that concentration towards academics.
Now he has graduated and is off to college. I am eager to watch his trajectory. Which room will exert the greater pull, the science lab or the art studio? A very wise college counselor once told me that only two kinds of students come into her office with dead certainty about what they want to study: artists and engineers. They are hardwired from the beginning. I think Graham is both.
I suppose this is a safe post. I don't touch on some of the harder aspects of parenting that my sister and her husband experienced. I don't mention that a graduation is a watershed event, perhaps most of all for a stay-at-home mother. And I certainly don't mean to offer any guarantees that a child's future success is in direct proportion to a child's talent. But Graduation Day is a moment not to be denied, when parents can look back, see the distance that has been covered, take a deep breath and admire the view.
I send out a post or two and some extra goodies every Friday morning. People like it! And by people, I mean people -- not just my mother. Subscribe below: