My unfinished drafts have now reached the number of the last two digits of the year of my birth. And I am reminded by a writing friend not to be too perfectionist in this medium, and so I’ll try to get the posts flowing down the pipeline again.
I subbed in my two youngest children’s school yesterday. My eleven year old stopped in to say a cheerful hello, but I was careful to avoid crossing paths with my teen daughter, as she was very clear that I was not to make any maternal moves. I understand, and wouldn’t have anyway, but it bothers me that she feels tense about me being around. I don’t take it personally, but I’d hoped we could find a way around the awkwardness of teen individuation from mother. There was no awkwardness, or not much, with the older two, a boy and a girl, as they went through this stage, but I can’t help think that a homeschooling lifestyle had a lot to do with that. When a young person is not peer dependent, then peer loyalty competes much less with honor and affection toward one’s family, I’ve noticed. Still, my daughter told me she is proud that I am no longer just a stay at home mother, but a professional, which is why she does not object to my subbing in her school.
In reading, I’m listening to Alex Haley’s Roots on audiobook. So well told, pacing just right, and it describes scenes familiar to me from my stay in a Togolese village almost thirty years ago–the kinds of huts, clothing, farms and foods were the same, as were the seasons and even the name of the dry wind before the rainy season. I was also struck by Haley’s descriptions of the stages of a young man’s training, each five year cohort being a special stage, planned and led by the fathers and elders, teachers and history keepers and holy men, including literacy education, skills training, learning proper relationship patterns, daily routines and duties and privileges appropriate to each stage. So so well adapted for survival and success in traditional West Africa, designed to foster responsibility, respect for elders, a knowledge of history and religious teachings, leadership, and the fruitfulness of the clan. Can’t help but contrast this with my own culture’s groping for meaningful traditions in the absence of real faith, of connections with revered elders and ancestors, and dependence the fruits of the local landscape earned by one’s own labor. By what authority do our political and economic leaders construct such an artificial sense of progress as we have today in these overdeveloped nations of ours? Can we educators and parents and community members come up with a vision that isn’t rootlessly striving to catch up to what has already happened seemingly without anyone’s intention or consent? I get so tired of the rhetoric in my field about an “education for the twenty-first century”. How about an education for all the centuries, world without self-destructive end?
Painfully riveting to listen to the part about Kounta’s capture as a seventeen year old man, the pain and suffering immense from the very beginning, but his manhood training allowing him to fist fight fiercely, then focus and endure, as he is packed into a ship’s hold. One thing to be horrified by the treatment and conditions in the ship of the Toubab (whites), but after getting to know the main character’s story, his family, village, hopes and plans, it’s unthinkable. I’m so ashamed by that part of humanity, that can be so depraved and yet project that less-than-humanness on others.
There’s a waning gibbous moon tonight, lightly blanketed by a thin corduroy layer of gray cloud, I expect. I think I’ll go out and say goodnight.