Friday, April 27, 2012

Out in the World

My youngest son had a big field trip this week.  His class drove down to Springfield to tour the capital, Lincoln themed sites, and meet the governor(!).  This child is a wonder mix of 1/2 part goofball and 1/2 part conscientious, passionate advocate.  Some in our family think of him as an annoying eco-terrorist.  That's an extreme description but he definitely can get on a soapbox and argue fiercely for what he believes is important.  Using as little electricity as possible, not wasting food, water, and other resources, humane treatment of animals (like not eating them), and gardening are big topics for him.  He's also the boy who juggles and unicycles for exercise for hours at a time and is fond of using quirky catch phrases to communicate, often leaving the person that he's talking to confused and unsure if he is making fun of them or is a little "touched" himself.  He will greet you with, "Happy Birthday!", just because and respond to every other comment you make with, "Cool Beans!".
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn addresses attendee...
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn addresses attendees before the opening of the 2010 Chicago Green Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like I said, he's a wonder mix.  You can perhaps imagine my mild concern about him traveling to Springfield and being given an opportunity to speak to the Governor.  I trusted that his teachers were just as aware as I about his charming and disarming qualities and would do what they could to stand near him, perhaps keeping a chloroform drenched rag in their back pocket when they were visiting the Governor's mansion.

The day in Springfield started at 5am as the 7th  graders loaded onto the buses (with a bathroom and seats that reclined!) and they did not return until 11pm.  He burst through the door late that night and exploded with excited memories of the day.  Starting with food (always) and how great Subway is, transitioning to the great movie in the Lincoln museum and how it blew his mind with the funky 3-D effects, and how he sold his chips to a fellow student and found some coins on the street, turning the trip into a moneymaking endeavor.  Finally he started to talk about their time with the Governor.  I kept a calm, interested expression, trying to mask my anxiety about what he might soon be sharing.  He wasn't returned to us with a police escort so I had that fact to reassure me.

"Oh! I asked the Governor a question!"

I smiled.  Here it comes.  "What was that?"

High Resolution Image of Kidney Beans. Françai...
"I asked him if he had any new ideas about how to take care of all the people that couldn't afford housing any more and how to tax the 1% more.  He didn't even answer the question!(?).  He just talked about something else that he wanted to say.  It wasn't even about what I asked.  His assistant was cool though.  He told us fun things about the mansion.  I told him he was cool beans."  Whew.  He did it.  Completely himself - challenging, quirky, charming, funny, and completely "out there" and also respectful and appropriately deferential when necessary.  He backed off the Governor when he evaded his question, something he wouldn't have done at the dinner table with his family members.  He was out in the world, successfully synthesizing his values and personality traits with our lessons on "proper" public behavior and courtesy.  I was very proud of him.  He's going to be ok, I thought - Happy Birthday!
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  1. What a totally awesome son you have.

  2. It's good to see him coming into his own.

  3. Would have love to see the governor's face when he asked him the question....