Saturday, August 17, 2013
My son. A boy barely registering in self-esteem. Repeating fifth grade. Report card in the dumps.
We can rebuild him. We have the tech-nature-y. He is The Six Billion Star Man.
If you weren't a child in the '70s, you might completely lost by the above description. But if you did grow up in the '70s, you remember the set-up from The Six Million Dollar Man, a fictional account of the world's first bionic man. (There was a sequel series, to give equal time to both genders, called The Bionic Woman.
After retrieving Dylan from SOAR camp, I feel sort of like he's the Six Million Dollar Man. He does feel at least somewhat rebuilt. It seems as though spending three and a half weeks in the woods amongst a billion stars has done a lot to push the reset button.
Is everything perfect? Do I have nothing more to worry about? Hardly. But he seems more aware of his moods and less prone to overreact. I was a nervous wreck about him going back to the same school, repeating fifth grade. Yet, the night before school started, he said he was sort of looking forward to going back! I was pretty speechless.
Now, we're only two days in. The real bulk of schoolwork hasn't started. But I still can't help feeling excited about the changes in him.
He has about a million mosquito bites on his legs, but he sees them as a badge of courage. He's eager to tell you about whitewater rafting, and rappelling, and tubing.
I had worried, too, when he left that he'd be miserably homesick for the entire time. He was homesick. But he got past it and now he's looking forward to Boy Scout camping trips, knowing he can handle it.
I even worried that I'd get a call asking me to come get him. However, at our debrief, we were told how he approached every day with a smile on his face, eager to try more. He got praise for his willingness to work hard in academics. His counselor said he was the only one who wanted to read the interpretive signs in the parks and museum they visited.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, wonders if ADHD is really nature deficit disorder. While I don't think Dylan's problems could be solved with a weekly dose of nature, I think nature is a great place for kids like him. We could never afford it, but SOAR even has a school-year academy where kids are in school two weeks on/two weeks "off" when they go on nature expeditions that tie into their schoolwork. How perfect for these visual and kinesthetic learners! I wish regular schools could learn a lesson or two from a school like this. It would certainly be a better idea than Common Core and endless testing.
The send up of all this is that SOAR was a roaring success. Dylan learned skills and more importantly learn things about himself he can carry with him as part of his personal tool kit.
Kind of like a bionic power pack that keeps the Six Billion Star Man going.
(c) The Argonne Chronicles, 2013