Friday, July 01, 2011

And the Growing Keeps Going

It was a long day after traveling once again to Colorado Springs to fetch Joshie from camp.  I left yesterday with two other mom buddies and we had a bit of a Thelma and Louise style road trip during which we all yacked up a storm, ate dinner at an overpriced Mexican roadside diner, and arrived in Springs late in the evening.  The two other moms were "newbies" to camp for their kids, and we awoke at 5:00 AM as all of us were a bit anxious to see our little guys.  After a leisurely Cracker Barrel breakfast, we were off to La Foret where we were greeted by shy smiles as the kids all performed at their closing ceremony.  Josh came up to me and gave me a big hug, then we were off to his cabin to collect his goods where he placed a cross necklace over my head and grabbed his bag to go.  He had a wonderful time, admitting later to having cried just a little the first night due to a little homesickness.  Luckily, he had his Crew with him, and that helped a lot.  He said that after that, he was fine and never felt homesick the remainder of his time there. 

What a great experience this was for him, to succeed on his own, to handle his fears with the help of others, to learn he was stronger than he may have originally thought.  I asked him this evening about our parting, and why he didn't give me a normal hug and instead chose to  present his back to me to hug.  This raised concerns in me as it would for any parent of an attachment disordered kiddo.  He looked up at me and asked "I did???" and I told him that yes, he had.  He didn't remember doing it at first, then I reminded him that I had told him to turn around and give me a real hug, and then he smiled a little and said "Oh, yea."  I asked him what that was all about and he said it was because he was uncomfortable saying goodbye and thought he might cry.  I told him I understood and we would work on that next time.

Having camera battery issues and can't load pics tonight or I'd share a couple. He definitely came back a changed young man, and we were very proud of him.  Overnight camp was something we would have thought impossible a mere 2 years or so ago, so this was huge for him.

Arriving home tonight around 5:30, I rushed home to get something to eat quickly then grab Matthew and take him to visit our local Civil Air Patrol group, where they were having an information night.  We had talked about investigating this as an activity for him, and were very interested to see what it was all about.

For those of you who may not know it, Matthew's dream has long been to be a pilot.  Since he was the tiniest little boy, he has ate, slept, drank and thought of nothing but airplanes.  Oh yea, and Legos, which he uses to make more airplanes.  For the past 4 years or so, he has spoken mainly of a more specific dream of being a pilot for Lufthansa...for the Frankfurt to Almaty route...and to be the first Kazakh-American pilot to do so.  Seriously, he has asked to study German, and then plans on taking Russian as well.  Crazy, but ever since flying Lufthansa for our adoption trips, he has grabbed hold of that and never forgotten it.  He is also in love with the Air Force Academy, and all things military.  He is not a lover of war, but of strategy and equipment, and of course of flight. 

Interestingly, as we sat next to each other listening to the various cadets explain the program, I whispered to Matthew about 3 or 4 of the young people that I'd bet him that they were homeschooled.  I don't know what it was about them, but there was an obvious difference in their confidence and the way they carried themselves.  Two of them were siblings and their father was there, and I watched them interact with him and each other, and I just saw something familiar in the way all 4 of these young people acted.  Matthew asked "Why do you think that?" and I said "I just know, wait and see."  Upon speaking with someone in charge I learned without asking that indeed I was right about each one.  These young people were very impressive, very respectful and attentive, and came across as so capable, it was interesting to watch them in contrast with their public schooled peers in this setting, where one would assume all of the cadets would be similar due to their cadet training.  Not so, and that was surprising to me. 

Matthew, however, also appeared to be more "homeschoolish" than some of the others, some of whom he had even been in school with 2 years ago.  One big thing I have observed that is different is that many homeschoolers tend not to have such disdain for their parents when they reach these pre-teen and teen years.  They are not embarrassed to be seen in public with their moms and dads, and in general appear to actually enjoy being with their parents.  Matthew and I sat together throughout the evening, visiting and whispering comments back and forth.  When a break occurred and pizza was served, he went off and chatted with some of the boys, including a couple of older boys who approached him to talk about the program, but then he went over and brought me some pizza on a plate where I was visiting with a friend whom I hadn't expected to see there.  The fact that he even thought of me was very sweet...that he was thoughtful of his mother in the midst of this large group of boys and was totally comfortable showing it was even sweeter.

It was also nice to have one young man, perhaps a couple years older than Matthew, come up to us immediately upon sitting down and say hello and remind us that he had met Matt at the homeschool track group the kids all participated in.  He spent a good deal of time visiting with Matthew, making him feel warm and welcomed, and was very nice.  We are struggling to find friendships for the kids and make connections within the homeschool community, so perhaps this will be a place where at least Matthew can do so.

So tonight was a big night for him, as in all reality it was perhaps the first real step towards his adult future.  It was one of the neatest parenting moments thus far to sit next to him and watch him bouncing up and down in his seat with excitement as he perused the aerospace learning module texts, listened to the cadets share stories about a week long camp every summer at the Air Force Academy, and watched as drills were performed.  His passion was so obvious, and our usually stoic son grinned from ear to ear throughout the entire evening, and kept leaning over to point at various things in the text books.

He has to attend 3 meetings, then apply after going through an interview to be accepted.  Starting at the minimum age of 12 years old allows him the opportunity to perhaps achieve the highest rank someday, reached only by 1% of all cadets.  The program provides him with an official set of dress blues, and we will have to purchase a set of fatigues.  The opportunities within the Civil Air Patrol are just astounding, and he can attend camps to learn about everything aerospace, including even visiting a Boeing plant for a week and learning about aircraft assembly, taking glider flights and powered flights, and learning many skills that would help should he decide to pursue obtaining his pilot's license...a cost that right now I can't begin to wrap my mind around but will worry about later. 

When we got home and were talking with everyone about what had happened at the meeting, I asked Matthew what he had liked best.  His reply?  "Everything...every single thing!"

He had planned on adding beginning German to his learning plan this year, but looking at the Civil Air Patrol materials and the amount of study required, I thought that might be a little too much.  He vehemently denied it and said "Mom, I practice my piano without being told to do it, and I get all my school work done all the time.  I can handle this, and I want to do it all."  I looked at him, put my hand out for a handshake and said "You know what, you are right.  You have been extremely responsible and have proven yourself.  You always work hard at all you do without me having to 'babysit' you.  You've earned the right to try it."

So, I guess I have a new category to add to his learning plan this year, and he is going to be one very busy young man.  He can do it, I know he can.

How wonderful it is to see our children begin to blossom and pursuit their passions!  Even if only in 7th grade, Matthew just might be working toward his future in a very concrete way.  At the very least, he will be exploring something he is interested in and finding out early on if it is indeed something he wants to do as a career or not.  For him, this is not about having just any old activity to participate in.  This is not something to do for fun, although I think it will be.  For him, this is tip toeing into manhood and taking the first step towards reaching for a dream. 

What I loved even more was as the kids were saying good night and getting ready for bed, Angela was up in her loft bed leaning over the side when Matthew stepped in the room to say goodnight to me.  She said with a broad grin "I'm so happy for Matthew!  He will love this and I glad he find it."  I told her I was too and it would be cool to see him in his uniform standing near a plane someday and then with a look of great pride on her face she said "Yup!  That's my brother!!" and then she told he and I goodnight.  With sibling support like that, Matthew will no doubt succeed and indeed make his sister very proud of him.

Oh, how hard it is to watch them grow up and ever so gradually away!  It is something I think every loving parent struggles with, and yet inevitably our children do what they were made to do...become adults. 


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4texans said...

This reminds me of Nicholas. He is also very interested in airplanes and military (maybe a little too interested in guns though). At 5 though, I'm sure his interests will broaden. Your children all seem so special!

Anonymous said...

Such a joy to read about your family! Since we only have dial-up right now, I'm WAY behind (just read what I happen to hit at the right time).

Two comments: having a good homeschool support group is a real blessing for both children and parents -- will be praying that you find one!

I am fluent in German (raising our daughter bilingually) -- if Matthew has any questions about German (and has no other direct contacts), he / you can feel free to contact me! :-)

PS I think you may have my e-mail address -- but I'll try to e-mail you again sometime soon just in case.