Though its biggest influence will be on my son, boarding school is also impacting my life in a huge way.
I am learning as much as he is about this new way of living. There are certainly positives and negatives with this journey, but far more bright spots to celebrate and enjoy.
We spent three nights with Beckett last weekend for his school’s homecoming. It was nice, and therapeutic, to see him in his element and get to know the people – adults and students — who he interacts with each day. We were able to watch one of his soccer games in person (rather than on YouTube), a football game and had numerous parent-teacher conferences. We had multiple meals together out and about around his school as well as in his cafeteria. We also slept under the same roof for the first time in a few weeks.
We have adjusted to our new normal without him at home. There is much more time and space in our lives right now than one year ago, but it’s alright. We are in touch daily through text messages and have a decent pulse on his school and social life. Beckett also texts with his grandparents and his little brother. The messages between Beckett and Carson are short, silly and immature, but it’s great to see them communicate even if it’s through ridiculous memes.
When I see Beckett now, I take nothing for granted. It’s like seeing him for the first time in some ways, though far from it. The same differences of opinions exist, like what should and should not be a priority at any given time, but he has changed a bit. It’s still a work in progress, but he is maturing. It’s a forced process truly because he must take on new responsibilities and duties through required independence.
One example would be he’s fortunate the school does the students’ laundry, but the individual kid must remember when his or her day is and have it in the appropriate place by a certain time. It seems simple enough, but Pam learned it’s not evidently. While helping him clean up his closet last weekend, she learned he missed at least a couple weeks. It’s not as easy as it seems.
When I’m on Beckett’s campus, I am taking everything in. I am trying to remember it all. I am fascinated by all aspects, good and bad. I’m just enthralled in learning as much as possible about this new life he is leading.
Since he’s 14, we don’t get much from him as far as details. We learn more about his wants and needs. I suppose it’s not a surprise to any parent to only hear from a kid when something is needed and not unlike if he were still going to school at home. We just do our daily check-ins and gather whatever we can.
After speaking with all his teachers, it was clear the education experience is unique and different than anything any of us have ever experienced. There are the typical education aspects, but these folks are truly educating and molding the whole child all the time. Many of the classroom teachers live on campus. Most educators are also “administrators on duty” at times as well as coaches and nurses at various times of the day so they observe these students in all aspects of life. A common observation we had after meeting with our son’s teachers was how familiar they are with him. These folks get him. They see a lot of positives and understand the areas of weakness. The adults on campus communicate constantly about the students and they work together to ensure they are functioning in their “community.”
This sense of living, working and playing in this community is real and seems to be at the root of campus life at boarding school. An example would be a sign in a dozen places throughout Beckett’s freshman dorm. There are 20 freshmen in the dorm managed by a husband-and-wife team serving as dorm parents. The sign details the house expectations. It reads,
If you use a Community Life handcart, return it.
Call home, especially when you’re happy.
DO NOT bring dishes from the dining hall on dorm.
MAKE YOUR BED each morning … it’s easy.
Don’t be where you’re not supposed to be when you’re not supposed to be there.
Tell the truth … it’s so much easier.
If you break something, tell an adult.
If you were unkind, let us know. We’ll help you figure it out.
Apologize if you hurt someone’s feelings or make a mistake.
Turn out life as you leave a room.
Don’t leave personal items in the Common Room.
If it’s not yours, don’t eat or drink it.
Don’t mess with other people’s stuff.
Call home, but don’t always wait until you are sad.
Know where your door wedges are all times.
ALWAYS break down your boxes
KEEP YOUR BATHROOM COUNTER CLEAR.
If someone is knocking on your door, ANSWER IT!
As a parent, I particularly applaud the ones about callng home. It’s why I put an asterisk next to them on the list affixed to his door. He must be quite busy, as he has not called this week. Pam said he did text her Thursday morning asking her to send him a Halloween costume for Monday. Ah, yes, we are still parenting.