The Interview

Today was THE day.  Dan had his interview.  I got up with him to make sure the pants were the right length (I’d hemmed them the night before), his hair looked like he had planned for it to look that way (best we could do) and to check that everything was tucked and tied and whatever correctly.  (Mom comment:  I cried after he left – he looked so handsome and grown up and so like someone who no longer needed a mom! And, that was the plan, you know, for the boys to grow up and leave and be their own people, but I need another 10 years or so.)
Dan and I butt heads often.  Basically, we’re the same person.  I remember being his age and just wanting nothing more than to be out and on my own.  I wanted this not because I didn’t love and appreciate my family (ok, maybe at 18 I didn’t appreciate them so much), but because I just wanted to do things for myself.  I see this in Dan.  I tried to be laid-back and not to hover this morning.  I think my efforts were a success, but I’ll never know for sure.
The interview was at 10 am in downtown Orlando.  Dan left here at 8:15 because:  1) I had no cash to give him to pay for the parking garage and he refused to use his own money to park so he left time to walk and 2) We were both paranoid that a truck would flip on I-4 and he’d be late.  He made it in time.
They called Dan in to meet a panel, which did NOT include the senator (who is in town).  They asked him questions.  Dan, being 18 and a guy, has been reluctant to the point of me wanting to beat him on the head about the interview.  The first question according to Dan, though, was “Since you’ve been homeskooled for so long, do you find yourself feeling awkward in social situations?”  Dan said he tried to suppress a laugh – the “socialization” thing is kind of a standing joke for people who homeschool their kids.  It’s the first question people (and, generally it’s people who are hostile to the idea of homeschooling) ask – how will those poor children be socialized????
Dan said he resisted the urge to tell them that he routinely dragged one or more of his brothers into the bathroom everyday at lunch to beat them up and steal their lunch money.  Instead he said something like,  “I’ve been involved with tae kwon do and Boy Scouts since I was seven.  I have friends.  I attended the prom last year WITH A GIRL (who knew my name).  I’m involved in my community college.  My job is cashier at the local grocery store and I deal with all kinds of people all day long.  I don’t think I’m awkward socially.” 

Gah!!!!  It took nerve for Dan to even tell me that they asked this question – he knows it sends me ’round the bend.  I DO, however, love his answer.  Dan has the kind of eyes that twinkle when he’s being serious but laughing on the inside – I’m sure someone picked up on it – don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I love imagining it. Dan is many things, but he’s comfortable in his own skin which is a huge thing for someone who is just 18.

He was interviewed for about 20 minutes, which Dan said seemed to be the average, but he said most of the questions asked of him were about homeschooling. (I so wish the questions had been addressed to me.  I doubt they asked public/privately schooled kids such detailed questions about their texts and work loads.)

I have no idea what Dan said and I have no idea how his answers were received.  He’s a super-bright, articulate, athletic young man and if they turn him down, it’s their loss.  Clearly, if he was socially awkward or otherwise too weird to talk to they would not have had him come in for this interview.  Right?

So now, let’s make it all about me, me me!  I truly believe that homeschooling was/is the right thing for our family.  I’m incredibly proud of each and every one of my sons.  They are all their own person and they are all smart enough to find whatever answers they need – and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?  (Bonus, they’re all really funny, too.  I love funny.)  But . . .
There’s always a but . . . what if being homeschooled eliminates Dan from the USNA?  I know, then it wasn’t meant to be.  But, what if my choices (it’s not like the kids picked to be homeschooled) have limited them in some way? How old do I have to be until it’s not my fault? I don’t really think our choices will be a huge impact on the kids in the long run, but some days, like today, I have my doubts.
And, REALLY?  The socialization question?  Gah!  Shouldn’t the burden be on the panel to learn about homeschooling before the interviews?  Just a little?  Clearly, if they bothered to call Danny in for an interview, something is right about him.
As for Dan, he feels really good about the interview.  He said he was the only one there without his parents (never occurred to me to REALLY go with him – I joked about it and offered to get a matching outfit, but . . . ) and the only one that did not have a page of notes going in to talk to the panel.  I guess that can go either way.  I’m proud of him for being so independent and able to speak on his feet. 
And, now we wait for Senator LeMieux’s decision.  We’re anticipating a yes/no from Bill Nelson (our other senator) for an interview date late in the month next week.  If you know Sen. Nelson and he likes you, please email/call him and give Dan a plug. 
I DO KNOW it’s not all about me.  (Sort of.  My favorite quote, and one I have repeatedly painted on my walls, comes from my friend, Julie, “I’m not much but I’m all I think about.”  I think this is true for every single person and realizing it is true and okay is HUGE.)  I’ve spent years and years and years trying to find the balance of mom/teacher/police. 
This is all about Dan.  But, because I’ve been so involved in his education as well as his life these many years, it’s hard to keep it all in perspective.  I want to call and lobby people and convince them of how great Dan is, but that won’t work – it would just be weird.  I want to have 10 minutes with the people that interviewed Dan to give them a clue about homeschooling – never going to happen.  I want a lot of things – long legs, a big bank account, perfect vision but those are never going to happen either. 

I just need to disengage and accept that we have raised exceptional kids, but maybe not everyone will appreciate how exceptional they are (until they take over the world, muhahaha).  Right?

Talk me down, folks.

6 thoughts on “The Interview

  1. I can't believe they asked about socialization. Really. In 2010? Frankly my kids are unimpressed with people their own age, 22 and 25, and I have an inkling that homeschooling may have something to do with it.

    Matt is taking the GRE in about 1 1/2 hours and will begin applying to grad schools. I also wish I could tell the admissions people how much he LOVES economics and what a great young man he is. But, alas, it's HIS grad school stuff and I have to butt out. I don't like butting out.

  2. Do you know how many appointments each Senator gets?

    My word verification is coulnes (coolness) It is a sign that Dan is cool!

  3. Oh Amy, I so empathize with you. My heart goes out to you and I want to slap me a couple of panel members. Dan sounds like he is happy with his interview and what will be will be. You MADE the best possible decisions for your boys. You have done so very well. Your ponderings are those of all of us who have or are homeschooling all the way. Keep the faith Amy.

  4. Amy, I went on a tour of the USNA last year and the guide said that the academy was really interested in kids who had been homeschooled or had other “alternative” educations (I was there with our Montessori charter school). And she seemed to mean it, so I really don't think that will be an issue. It might be with the senator, but not the Navy.

  5. Just goes to show ya that you can be 'influential' in society… a real mover/shaker and still be dumber than a box of hair.

    Silly people.

  6. Thank you all – you have no idea how much your reassurances and comments meant.

    Portia, how did Matt's GRE go? I know the boys have been “iffy” about a lot of their classmates at SSC.

    Claire, each senator gets 5 appointments. I don't know if that's for all the service academies or just the naval one.

    Liz – thanks!!!!

    Deana, this was the impression we've had all along in dealing with the USNA – who knows what will come from this senator. I do love that you've been there and talked to people though. I think anyone trying to run a smart business (or military) would be foolish to ignore the kids who are not traditionally schooled.

    Ami – I adore you! I think I learned the phrase “dumber than a box of hair” from you, and, while it makes me itchy – it's so often useful!

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