“I think it’s cool that you give her time to explore her creativity - she’s incredibly prolific,” the piano teacher says about my fifteen-year-old when I step in to listen to her new song.
I hadn’t really thought about it that way exactly - that I give her time.
Alexandra has taken this time and filled it with what she wants to learn - what she’s passionate about. Thinking back, I can see where so much of what might look like wasted time and random interests (like the hours of watching South Park and weeks of reading Harry Potter) has led her to be a capable, curious, passionate teenager.
This morning, I’m making the breakfast she likes as I hear her alarm clock blaring Metallica. The song, Enter Sandman, drowns out my podcast of an unschooling interview with Dayna Martin and the last sentence I hear from my computer is a statement about Dayna’s teenage son. She says, “no matter what he is interested in, I value it.” Such a simple sentence, but the meaning of it has made a huge impact on our unschooling lives. When I’m finding it difficult to accept a choice that one of my kids has made, I like to look at my own thoughts and see just why I have a problem with it.
Today is Monday and I think about what Alexandra’s day looks like. She wants to go to medical school to be a forensic pathologist and she’s mapped out how to make that happen. She starts by working on her homework for the chemistry and geometry classes she takes at a homeschool academy one day a week. She also works on a section of her Cousera human physiology class and later this evening I’ll take her to her community college English-comp class. She created this schedule for herself after a three-month foray into public high school which helped her see how much she liked the structure and the course material, but detested everything else.
Today, she also spends time playing and singing through the songs she’s composing for an original musical. It will be premiering in the fall with the theater company she interns with twice a week. She’s on her phone a little, talking to a couple of friends about beginning to perform at some local teen music events. She doesn’t like “chit-chat”, but loves to talk about her projects. She’s often silently thinking and planning and I’ve learned not to interrupt her too much - I wait for those gratifying conversations that come mostly at night or on long stints in the car when she’s coming up for air.
My hair dresser says, “oh… you have a 15-year-old daughter - teenagers are so hard”. I hear this a lot. And, so far, I don’t really think of it as any harder than other ages. It’s an age when so much is brewing and Alexandra’s excited about what she sees for her future. She needs me to give her time like her piano teacher mentioned and to value all of her interests like Dayna Martin said. With time to pursue whatever she’s interested in, I hope that she will continue to enjoy the moment, to explore, and to really know herself. I know she’s always learning.