For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what M.’s “thing” was. C. has politics and her crafting and Nancy Drew and Sylvia Plath and…and…and…. Well, there’s always something and I always have seemed to know exactly what’s grabbing her at any given point in time. But M….. I’ve just found it harder. Maybe because my passions haven’t been her passions. Maybe because she just isn’t as overexcitable and dramatically vocal about what interests her.
Until now. Some background first though. Back in February, when I was on the cusp of deciding whether to withdraw her from that school, I had coffee with the friend for whom she babysits and shared my difficulty in figuring out M’s passion. Fencing, my friend had deduced from conversations with M., was not “it”, and sure enough in the following weeks we reluctantly, at M.’s insistence, let her private lesson drop even though she has tremendous talent and aptitude for it. As someone on a listserv said vis a vis a different issue, “They have to want it more than you do.” Ugh. True. Though it killed Husband Dear and me to see her “throw it away,” we realized we had to back off and let the weekly group lesson that she enjoys mostly for the social aspect, suffice.
Okay, so not fencing. But what? At that point in time, M. was lobbying hard for us to be bold and move overseas (Hello Maya Frost!). That’s “it” my friend said. You want to know what her passion is? It’s traveling and experiencing other cultures. When she talks to me about Europe, she talks and talks and talks. “Really?” I said. I guess that’s such a given in our family that I didn’t really take it for a “thing.” But then again, this is the kid with the Union Jack hanging over her bed, the one who has informed me, “Mom, when I’m 18 I’m moving to London.”
Shortly after that conversation with my friend, we resumed homeschooling, with that requisite what-the-heck-are-we-going-to-do? period. And it slowly dawned on me that what’s been gelling on her part, an outgrowth of things European, has been a very serious interest in archeology, more specifically ancient Greece and Rome. This is the kid who seemingly has watched every documentary on the History Channel. Who loved her homeschool forensic science class last year. Whose all time favorite Smithsonian exhibit has been Written in Bone. For whom the highlight of our trip to Italy last year was an excursion to Pompeii, something that C. and I skipped completely. The one whose stated goal is to study at Oxford and get her PhD in archeology.
Okay, so I’m a bit slow, but I’ve gone with it. I subscribed her to Archeology magazine. I paid for her membership in the Archeology Society of Maryland. I found out about ASM activities in our county and lo, there’s quite an active chapter here. Through them I discovered that the Parks Department has an archeology camp this summer. An archeology camp with the department’s archeologist! It’s not ancient Greece, but still how cool is that? And for teens there is a week-long counselor-in-training session, with the chance to volunteer for an additional session for younger kids. Signed her up. Through a listserv I’m on I learned about the Lukeion Project, which offers four-session online webinar workshops led by a working archeologist. I enrolled her in Intro to Archeology and that was such a hit that she’ll do more workshops over the summer. Extending that, I asked her, what skills do archeologists need? For one thing, the ability to document and map one’s finds accurately. M. has been doing a lot of sketching on her own; how about a drawing class? Some hunting on the Internet and I found a local two-day drawing and sketching “boot camp.” Next weekend Roman re-enactors will been meeting up not a half an hour away from us. Roman re-enactors? Seriously, who knew? But we’ll be there.
Finally, one of the Lukeion workshops that interested her was about bizarre ancient languages and alphabets. Hmm…what about Greek and Latin? As it happens Husband Dear, a proud graduate of St. Johns College, had in the past offered to teach her ancient Greek. Time to put money where his mouth has been.
We ordered materials for both languages and I am pleased to say that every evening for the past week or so the two of them have sat at the dining room table and have begun learning (or relearning, for my husband) ancient Greek. I don’t know what they’re saying, but it’s very cool to eavesdrop, as other attempts at dad learning (ahem, math) have not always gone smoothly. In this case she is the one asking to work on it together with him every evening. Which is how it should be.
P.S. Through a local homeschooling list I found out about the opportunity to order some real Roman coins. We ordered 5 and M. has been bugging me nonstop about when they are going to arrive.