In our parish, we have each year a special program for those young people who will soon be graduating from high school. After Mass, their names are read, along with all the clubs and activities they were involved in, and the college degrees and careers they plan to pursue, while the students pass roses to the beloved people who have helped them get to this point. Brenna was invited to participate last year when she graduated, but she declined, and Delaney has already said she’ll decline, too, when it’s her turn next year. The reason? Even though she may be one of the most interesting people there, she has no formal list of achievements or school-sanctioned clubs, and her name would just hang there in an embarrassing silence.
I don’t know if we are an anomaly among homeschoolers, but we don’t do clubs or co-ops or even team sports. Here’s the thing. I think they need time to pursue their own interests and I have given them that time in spades. They are well read in topics many adults would find baffling. They have developed talents in music, art, handicrafts and lego engineering. They can hold a lively conversations with a person of any age. They can manage all aspects of a large and busy household. They can care for all kinds of livestock.
They have ambitions to write novels and run their own businesses. They can make change in their heads, cut sandwiches in quarters, and please their employers with their efficiency and self-motivation. They serve the Church and the community wherever they see need.
And they do all this while excelling in a course of study that demands dedication and clear thinking.
But they haven’t been on any mission trips. They haven’t won any academic competitions and don’t even perform well on standardized college entrance exams. They are first and last in their classes and haven’t served as president of anything.
In short, their value, potential, and humanity can’t be neatly summed up by a list of achievements and activities.
We are content with this. But it does mean you won’t hear our names called at that special program after Mass, because the silence would be embarrassing. And we are still teenagers, after all.