The last day

Amidst the swirl of a week chock full of end of year events, an almost unnoticed milestone is being celebrated at our house today; Mathaus is wrapping up his junior year of high school.

There won’t be any fanfare. Mathaus isn’t the kid who enjoys celebration, although he has been generous enough to tell me that if I need him to walk across a stage next spring to commemorate the end of the 12 years I’ve spent homeschooling him, he’ll do it. Because he loves me.  (Seriously, this kid is amazing.)

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On Monday, Mathaus will quietly begin his senior year. On Friday, he and his dad will quietly head off to the mountains to visit Milligan College, to try on the feel of another university. In the next few weeks, we’ll quietly celebrate his 17th birthday. And after that, I know that the days will quietly slip by, one after another, until suddenly it is May again and I am ordering another diploma and pressing it into the hands of the child who told me at the age of three that the clouds outside were “ominous.”

I love homeschooling high school. I’m a huge advocate of continuing the race to the end, of remembering your why and finishing well. And truly? This junior year with Mathaus has been everything that I love most about educating young men and women. We’ve had hard discussions, deep research, mathematical conundrums, and beautiful doctrinal debate. We’ve dug into Kafka, pondered Cubism, scratched our heads over Kennedy assassination theories, and wondered at the complexity of the Enigma Code. He’s written papers, produced science videos, and spent countless hours with his nose in books.

Along the way, I’ve mothered him a little too much in some moments, and had to come to the rescue in others. He’s vacillated between being utterly capable to floundering about for his sea legs. We’ve spoken love and encouragement over each other, given some well-timed rebukes, and pressed one another to keep going. It has not been perfect, these last 11 months… but it has been good.

This afternoon, as I print off the semester’s final grades and file them away, I’ll be closing the books on the only 11th grade year my son will ever have. I’ll be saying goodbye to his next-to-last year of homeschooling, and pushing my family to the next place, the one where everything sheds the “next-to” and is now, simply, “last.” I’ll probably need a cup of tea and a couple of squares of chocolate.

And Mathaus? He will quietly slip upstairs, pull out the bass guitar, and play for an hour or so. Around the dinner table tonight, we’ll ask everyone’s favorite part of the day, and he will talk about a random fact he learned about isotopes, or something about Carter’s handling of the hostage crisis in Iran. I won’t point out the accomplishment, because it is Mathaus, but inside, I’ll be sighing deep and drinking in the milestone.

One more year. I can already feel the joy and the sorrow of it. One more year. Here it comes.

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