A little over a year ago I wrote about my amazement at how well my awkward homeschooled boy fit in with his fellow Boy Scouts. Now I've come to a new checkpoint on the way to his adulthood: seeing that my boy has a life completely separate from mine; a life in which I have no part.
Through his association with Scouts he was invited to join a robotics club, part of the First Tech Challenge league. This is a high-school level group, but the individual teams have flexibility and can recruit younger guys. So, my 6th/7th grader* happily joined. There are some other middle-schoolers in the group as well, so it's not like he's a baby compared to everyone else. He is the only homeschooler, so far.
Still, I wondered how he would do. And I don't know for sure, because I'm not involved. (Except to the extent that the team leader asked me for help in recruiting more homeschoolers for the team.) I figure he must be doing OK because he's still going, and because his team leader wants to find more homeschool kids to join. Oh, I get little snips of information that lead us to the conclusion that he's a useful member of the team. But I really don't know much about it. It's his life, and I'm just not a part of it. I am stunned to hear that he is teaching newer kids programming. I didn't know he could program well enough to teach someone else. How did that happen?
It's a weird experience for me. I don't think of myself as a helicopter parent though I know I have those tendencies and have to work to keep them in check. When he left for a Scout campout this weekend I had to have his dad drop him at the carpool meeting place; I knew if I went I wouldn't be able to resist one last reminder or lecture or question in front of the guys. I witnessed another Scout mom do that once and I never, ever want my kid to roll his eyes at me the way that boy did at his mother.
It's not so much that I worry about his safety; no, I worry about potential (and minor) troubles. He had to cook breakfast for his patrol this morning. What if his carton of eggs broke on the way? Were they packed properly? Would the cooler keep them cold enough? When my husband pointed out that the expected high was 48 and the low 21, I wondered if the eggs would freeze overnight. My husband is a very patient man. He just looks at me and smiles in that kind way that we smile at... well, never mind. If I thought the kid would have checked his phone for messages, I would have texted him numerous reminders. But I know that the phone stays packed away, to be used only if really necessary. Which is as it should be. Scout camp is not for texting, even it's to reassure Mommy that the eggs are fine. And what if they weren't, anyway? The boys would eat more sausage, scavenge other patrols' food, and come home hungry. And he would learn how to pack eggs properly next time.
So he'll be home in a little while and I'll ask how camp went. And he won't purposely withhold information but he won't find it necessary to fill me in on every little detail. I won't be satisfied that I know what he was doing every minute, and that he was doing it well. I know this is just a little taste of the future. I'm really glad it happens gradually.
*Homeschool note: I am the type of homeschooler who doesn't pay too much attention to grade levels. My boy would be in 7th grade if he had gone to school with his age peers in kindergarten. But in Oregon, compulsory attendance starts at age 7, and a 7 year old can be enrolled in 1st grade. So, he is registered a year behind his age/peer grade.