Age 14 has been a hard year for Hailey and for us. Brilliant and wonderful. Terrifying and difficult. She dealt with a set of struggles that are hers to tell so I won’t write about them here but I can tell you that she showed such courage facing something that has the power to destroy so many. She discovered music as therapy and began writing songs. She came out publicly and joined a group designed to help other LGBTQ kids. She dealt with bullies and harassment. She is still doing all of these things. And she is good, for now.
This year we faced a lot of hard decisions and one of them I keep getting asked is, “Which school will Hailey be going to next year?” The answer usually invokes strange responses because actually…she’s staying here.
Hailey is lucky to have a large support system of adults who want her to succeed and be happy and working together this year we’ve decided that homeschooling would be a really good option for her. At least for a year. Maybe for longer. She’s very self-directed and gets all As in pre-AP classes and is bored most of the time so she should be able to soar through her coursework each week and use the extra time she’d be sitting in class to start a business or write an album or explore a museum. She’ll be able to travel with us and see the world. We’re doing the homeschooling through University of Texas because that way she has structure and when she’s ready she’ll be able to do dual-enrollment, take college classes and get college credit while she’s still in high school, which is something she’s so excited about.
I do worry about the social aspect. She’ll still take music lessons and workshops and go to camps. She’s going to volunteer at shelters. We’re going to check out the community theater. I’m looking for a homeschool group in San Antonio like the one my sister is in in California but most of them in Texas are religious and that’s not really us.
I worry that this is the wrong decision but then I look back at my high school experience and know that I would have done so much better with this option. My sister’s kids are all homeschooled and they are amazing and kind and social and weird in the best possible way. And I repeat to myself the best advice my mom gave me about being a parent. It’s the same advice that I repeated in my head when I had to decide about going back to work or about breastfeeding or about public school or private school. And that advice is: Whatever decision you make will be the right one for your kid. Because you know your kid better than anyone else. And even if it’s the wrong decision (and there will be plenty) it’s just a part of their journey and a good opportunity to show them that you’re not perfect either.
Last night was Hailey’s last middle school choir. They had a competition and she made it to the finals performing a song she wrote herself the night before.
And I watched her and cried a little and I felt torn. What if this is the wrong choice? And then she came off the stage and told me about the workshops that she’d be able to do next year and the album she wants to make and the musical she’s going to write now that she’ll finally have time and autonomy to choose her own path.
So yeah. I think she’s gonna be alright.
PS. This is all still really scary so if you have any advice to give me (as Headmistress of Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings) I’d love it. Any advice that helped you through the teenage years is welcome but in particular if you know of great music or social groups for young teens in North San Antonio please let me know.
It takes a village to raise a kid and I’m so lucky that Hailey has so many internet aunties and uncles who have her back. Thank you.