Monday, September 19, 2011

The High School Student

This is the guy in the house who looks like he actually has a real job these days. John Paul is a High School student.

He leaves early in the morning in a collared shirt. He's gone most of the day. He comes home in the afternoon and proceeds immediately to his room to continue working. He's finished around five o'clock.

Then he spends a few hours acting like a kid before he goes to bed, rather promptly and of his own free will, at ten. Ten o'clock! Heck, I'm just warming up at ten, in my bunker with my books and laptop and all the exotic devices and connections that establish links between the interior of my mind and every corner of the world. I may go many places before I go to bed at three in the morning, turn on the BBC, listen to the morning news from Europe and then finally drift off to sleep. Before then, perhaps I'll visit Europe, or the Middle East, or California. That's about twelve time zones. Or, I'll put the technology aside and pick up a book and travel back in time, in my mind, 400 years to central Europe, Russia, Poland, or the Ottoman Empire as I seek to discover the lines that drew the map of the "modern" world--a world that is now shifting dramatically in the rapid demographic and cultural encounter between East and West. While that study develops, I work on my upcoming book, or use the social media to make myself available to new friends and old in many different places.

I have a strange, exotic life--in many ways more creative and communicative than ever--but there are days when I do everything in sweatpants.

The kid dresses spiffy every day, and keeps regular hours.

But John Paul is thriving on the routine. He is experiencing some of the disciplined freedom that is opening up the world of his adolescence to larger experiences, to taking on responsibilities on his own initiative, to a measure of independence. He is being educated and formed in an institution we can trust. Once again, God has blessed our family.

John Paul is following all the rigors of a High School curriculum at a private academy. Foundations of self-discipline and the habits of ordered liberty are being instilled in him at the age when he is ready to receive them. Certainly, much of his adolescent growing crisis remains ahead of him, but he has a solid context in the places of home and school in which it can unfold. Meanwhile, the foundations of a lifetime are being laid.

These are necessary foundations, even if the winds of life later blow him into circumstances that require him to work in a more unconventional way. A well formed perspective and good habits will enable him to lay hold of whatever opportunities present themselves in life.

I love to watch my son grow. He seems to become more and more...himself.