While Michael and Jake fussed over a fire for grilling burgers I made a dandelion salad (soft, giant, organic commercial dandelion leaves purchased at a boutique market in Ashland) and smashed potatoes (were still eating Serge’s beautiful pink and yellow produce). I used a bit of butter and olive oil and a softened cube of veggie bullion with a tad of milk. It turned out very well. (Jake reserved them for lunch the next day.) Before he dressed, to my surprise, Jake said, “Well, better get going with school,” and he announced that he would start with his essay on Hannibal. Today he focused on writing 150 words about his achievements. Then he filled out a science worksheet on converting pounds to kg, and noting your diet. He said, “I’m going to start watching what I eat more. Can I have an apple for breakfast?”
I agreed as long as he had 12 oz. of either milk or almond milk. Jake and I biked along the Rogue River on a terrific paved trail while Michael ran. When we got back I had time for yoga on top of a picnic table.
“I really like our routine,” said Michael. “Especially with Jake initiating his own schoolwork.” Indeed. We are no longer hovering or sitting with him as he works. He mostly asks about spelling and proceeds through his science and history worksheets, his math text and his PE and Fine Arts charts (noting what he is working on and for how long each day). He seems to be thriving with the independence. He has more confidence and interest in his work and because we’re not telling him what to do as much, he’s less argumentative than when we started a month ago. Basically, he’s learning the way most adults like learning or working. I’m just surprised that its possible with him and at his age. Maybe he has suffered from being over estimated and underestimated and just plain evaluated (and tested) too much in school. He wants so much to be good at something, especially sports.
“So what do you think are my strengths, mom? Drama and...writing?” He looks unconvinced. As we walked around the campus of Southern Oregon University I talked about how much it had impressed me as a kid. Since then, they’ve built a beautiful new art museum and studios. “Do you think I could get into this school?” he asked.
Its been interesting managing a road trip with two sports junkies during the World Series and the pro football season. Mike and Jake pause a lot at bar windows, staring at the screens and running statistics. I almost lost my patience last night – or Mike did, when I declined to have dinner at a dark Irish pub so they could watch SF Giants vs Detriot Tigers. “Ashland is a foodie town. I want to find something nicer,” I said. Dejected, the boys trudged a few blocks closer to the theater where we had tickets for an 8 pm show. The solution was The Black Sheep, an English inn-style restaurant which I remembered adoringly from my Ashland summers. Michael had a Farmer’s Dinner (cheese, salad, pickled veg, meat pie). Jake and I had shepherd’s pie. And we sat near a crackling fire, the final game of the World Series 2012 plainly visible on a new mantel-top monitor. But without sound.
Ironically, the only unsatisfying experience we had in Ashland was the theater. We had a choice between Triolus and Cressida or Medea/MacBeth/Cinderella. T&C is set in modern day Afghanistan, and would have been the better choice. But it sounded too dark. I think Jake was intrigued by the element of Greek drama in M/M/C, because he choose it, so we agreed. It turned out to be the three plays at once, on one very vertical stage. All stories were staged at once, with a musical element to boot. The idea was to promote the parallels and ironic juxtapositions of gender roles in each of the stories, and I’m sure it would have been a heyday for thespians with PhDs, but it was a veritable three-ring circus, a torture for us. We could hardly follow it. Everytime I snatched a look at Jake he had a dark, angry expression. Not wanting to push him too far, at intermission Michael and I agreed we should step out.
“The thing is you guys,” Jake opened a critical discussion as we walked back to our bandwagon, “I do like drama but I despise melo-drama, and I can’t stand musicals. Its just so UNrealistic! And when people go back and forth across the stage wagging their fingers and shouting ‘And furthermore!’ I really can’t take it.”
His pronouncement was interrupted by a lanky street urchin who performed a spontaneous caricuture of our discussion, sauntering and gesticulating wildly behind us. We laughed. He continued. Michael thanked him most graciously. He continued. Jake and I stopped turning to look at either of them. “In a town like this its hard to say whether he’s crazy or just looking for work, “ said Michael.