Linchpins

None of us stands alone. Not in childrearing or otherwise. There are positive and negative influences, and then there are our Linchpins, “the ones we’ll miss.” Thank you, Seth, for the words and inspiration.

I don’t raise Linchpins alone. My Husband breaks more notions of gender bias with regards to who does what and when than any man I know.  Gifted with the mind of a nuclear physicist, but faster to the kitchen than I care to be, Sean redefines what it means to be a Dad and a Husband.  Soleil commented just today that not every family has his ridiculously complex and made with love meals on school nights.  No, Soleil, I’m fairly certain none of them eat this well.  I may have married you for your linguini with red clam sauce, but you give us so much more. Thank you. Sushi

Thank you to the all day, every day friends and family, Papa Pony, DebDeb, Penny Lane, PaPaul, and Kathie.  Our world would pale without you.

Thank you to our public school teachers who continue to break the mold, reach further, contribute more, and SEE children. For me: Ms. Hixon, Ms. McGuffee, Mr. Woods, Mr. Linam, and Ms. Harrold. When a child is truly lost, but then found by a teacher, you save lives, quite literally.

For The Kids: Ms. Diaz, Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Linholm, Ms. Weathers, Mrs. Lyles, Ms. McGuffee (yes, again, SAME AWESOME ONE), Mrs. Coffett, and Mrs. Brasner.

Thank you to Marcia and The Law Girls.  Having a baby in law school was tough, but having your support made it so much easier.  Thank you to Margaret and Lea, for allowing me the luxury of bringing my babies to work, knowing that I could do that hand-off without missing a beat and they would be loved.

Thank you, Michael, for always encouraging me to be a Linchpin, even when it made me snarky. And thank you Ryan, for making this happen.

And a special thanks to my long-time friend and PR Manager, Richard Cross, who is forever pushing me to do more. Gaga’s got nothing on me.

Press Contact:
Richard Cross
PR Consultant
rcrossiii@aol.com
443.844.5461
http://rjc-crosspurposes.blogspot.com/

 

Their Terms: Soleil Style Part III

Congrats!The crazy excitement of applying to college on Sunday, October 7th gave way to our standard busy week.  While we thought of our far-fetched plan and continued to discuss it, Chorus, StuCo, school plays and performances occupied far more mindshare.  When we received back to back emails October 16th and 17th outlining a multitude of policies and procedures for incoming students, we were fairly certain the letter would follow.  Indeed it was right behind.

While the technology tools available to college students have become more readily accessible, college procedures  are no simpler than my own Freshman experience.  Determining what hour of what day Soleil would qualify to register in the hierarchal puzzle, what pre-requisites were required, which classes were available to non-majors, what supplies were necessary for the classes and what would remain available left me frustrated.  Despite our advances in technology, the software used is archaic.  There wasn’t a drop down menu in sight.  Regardless, we muddled through and determined several classes of interest, should they be available by the time open enrollment allowed registration.

The day of open enrollment I was nearly as tense as the day my bar results were released.  Soleil had her heart set on a couple of classes that almost fit reasonably into our family schedule and I was loathe to find them full.  When the hour was upon us, we logged in and in mere moments registered her for her most preferred class.  It was almost too easy. My eleven-year-old was an admitted and enrolled college student.

Their Terms: Soleil Style Part II

NapkinWhen I say our research began immediately, I mean on the back of a napkin in the car in the parking lot of Petco.  It was October, and time was of the essence.  While I wasn’t sure whether there was a possibility she could attend a University given her age and education, we were swept by the idea.  On the back of the napkin we plotted a course to have her graduate high school and college at the same time, enabling her to enter law school at 18.

After spending that seven minutes riling ourselves up, we were unstoppable.  The next hours at home were spent on the computer, researching local universities’ policies on admission.  The closest university was that which I’d attended concurrently in high school, concurrently meaning I was released from high school for a comparable number of hours to that which I was taking at the university.  This was not an option, as one was required to be at least a Junior in high school.

Undeterred, we explored special student status, for none of which she qualified.  We explored the entirety of the website for what seemed like forever, and then it occurred to me.  There were no age restrictions on part-time students, nor were they required to have ACT scores if matriculating only part-time.  We weren’t looking for a degree in four years. We were just looking for a class or two. We hoped we’d found our in.

We filled out the application online, and paid the application fee.  We balked for a minute when asked for Soleil’s birthdate, wondering if it would make the difference between admission and the lack thereof.  We submitted immunization records, education experience, and answered pages upon pages of questions, hit “send,” and held our breath.

First Day of College @ Age Mom

Soleil DrawingI love how nonchalant Soleil is in retrospect.

She was a little nervous. I was shaking like a leaf.

My internal prayer: Please let the professor be open-minded. Please let the students be understanding. Please let the syllabus be reasonable.  Please let the building be intuitive. Please let us have the right supplies for tonight. Please let us thaw before we meet anyone. The list was endless.

I caught the professor headed to the supply closet and explained ever so briefly that I was there with Soleil, and she was not accompanying me.  It wasn’t bring your daughter to school day and you missed a memo, Professor.  I asked if I could sit in the first two classes, and, perhaps still in shock, she acquiesced.

She introduced herself and asked the class to do the same including a brief history of experience drawing.  “My name is Mary and I’m a Junior.  I haven’t taken an art class before. “  “My name is Karen and I drew in middle school,” etc. Soleil was second to last. “Hi, my name is Soleil, and yeah, I’m eleven,” she said with heartbreaking poise and charm and a shrug.  “I uhm, drew in middle school, too, ‘cause I’m in middle school now.” If she’d thrown in a wink, I’d have been worried, but she was genuinely connecting with the other students.  “I’ve been drawing pretty seriously for three years, concentrating on Manga.”

And that was it.  Just like that, she had introduced herself to her college peers. No bumps, no bruises, and no bad vibes. She’s just another student in a challenging art course, determined to draw better. I finally remembered to breathe.

Their Terms: Soleil Style Part I

Felicite & SoleilMy eldest daughter starts college tomorrow.  I say this three times fast. It doesn’t settle better.

Soleil (my eldest daughter, not the Cirque show) is eleven. And while I suggested college as a joke, this is largely her idea. And I approve.

We were having a conversation about all of the things Soleil would like to do and try: art, history, law, biology, chemistry, advanced mathematics, gymnastics, kung-fu, more art, chorus, volleyball, orchestra, literature, writing…the list was endless and I completely related.  I worked full-time through high school and college and regrettably missed so many things I would have liked to “try.”  Alas, public education required hours upon hours of unchallenging and unnecessary requirements, while negating our passions for all but two elective hours a day.

We determined there weren’t enough electives in Soleil’s day, nor would there ever be.  We also determined that, given her level of sophistication and maturity, the extracurricular classes for which we could pay dearly (yes, more dearly than state college), would be full of children who lack her level of intensity and dedication, and generally frustrate her to no end, an experience she’d suffered repeatedly.

Here I suggested college classes so she could earn credit for all her exuberance, an idea to which she immediately glommed.  Her passion for the variety of study available was fantastic but foreseeable.  Our research began immediately.

Here to Assist

The word “linchpin” isn’t new. Merriam-Webster’s states a linchpin is one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit. More importantly in my mental evolution, Seth Godin defines a Linchpin, and I paraphrase his brilliance, as one who is indispensable, or “the one they’ll miss.”  He’s written an entire book entitled Linchpin Are You Indispendable?, and it clearly illuminates what many adults I know are feeling.

Our world is shifting.  We must embrace the global economy and recognize that we will no longer prosper as cogs in manufacturing machines.  The US industrial revolution is over, and we can sit around and resent those countries experiencing theirs (and taking those loathsome cog jobs), or we can find what we are meant to do in our own time and space and create new dreams.  We are built as humans to stand out, not fit in.  But we are trained sorely otherwise.

Linchpin

This was my gut instinct. This is what I felt when I hit a round hole as a square peg in my career. And while it caused me to shift my own direction, the more important effect was a change in my parenting, my conversations with my children, and how we think about the system of education that was created to produce a labor force of factory workers one hundred years ago.

I have home-schooled my kids. I have been an active public school parent. I have considered private school. But we have yet to find our fit. How can I engage a system to meet the needs of children I am dedicated to raising, not to fit the notions of education creators so long ago, but as Linchpins, prepared to engage daily in a way that challenges societal expectations, questions the “musts,” and eliminates the “shoulds?”

No status quo. No “good enough.” No publicly funded babysitting.  No overpriced private education determined to indoctrinate them into a higher education system equally questionable in its necessity in our future. These alone will not suffice.

These three humans will rock the world in powerful, wonderful ways, and do so on THEIR terms. I’m just here to assist.

This is our journey.

Seth Godin TEDx

Seth tells it like it is:

What if instead of homework at home, we had the lecture on our own time (at home), and our teachers actually did the work with us? See the Khan Academy video.

What is worth memorizing anymore? How about we spend our time connecting meaningful ideas instead of memorizing. Open note, open book, all the time?

What if we weren’t limited by the eight hours at school? What if we could access any course, anywhere, and anytime?

What if education was precise and focused for each student? Like buying a car?

What if we end multiple choice? Computers are smart enough to handle it.

What if we end standardized testing all together?

What if we teach students to problem solve in teams, like in the real world? What if we end isolated education?

What if instead of teaching students to collect dots (memorize, and standardize), we teach them to connect dots (advocacy, and meaningful work)?