Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vulnerability and Part 1 of “The Menagerie” by Levi


I’m going to be vulnerable with you for a few minutes:

It’s been a rough year with my oldest.

Personality clashes, hormone flares, emotional meltdowns, character issues. Probably pretty equally on both our parts.

Have I mentioned that raising adolescents can be tough?

I asked him if I could share that, and he said I could.

And I say this to let you know that we’re human, with human struggles.

The decisions are endless, and seem to have no easy answers. I hinted about the quandary in this post. How much do we expect our “square peg” children to fit in a round hole? When is it a character or training issue and when should we change our expectations?

I don’t know.

I’m reminded of this article about the best-selling teenage author Christopher Paolini. In the article, his mother talks about his education saying, “Little did I know that when Christopher was daydreaming out the window—and not finishing his math problems—he was dreaming of battling evil sorcerers and flying on dragons, dreams that would form the basis of his first book, Eragon.”

Well, exactly.

I’m not saying I have the next Christopher Paolini on my hands, not at all, but what do you do when your child would rather be thinking or writing about dragons than finishing his math? What do you do when it is a great struggle for him to bend his brain to focus on math? Even if he has the reward of free time at the end of it?

She does say in the very next paragraph: “Sometimes our children balked at lessons and we had a clash of wills. At those crucial points, Kenneth and I gave our children a choice: we told them that by law they had to attend school, but it was their decision where they would do this. They could do the assigned homeschool lessons or Dad would drive them to the local school, where they would do the work those teachers assigned. Ultimately, they always chose to homeschool, but not without a grumble here and there.”

And so we press on, but not without a grumble here and there. [wry grin] And I try to remember that learning to read was a painful process to go through with Levi, but now he can read 1,000 pages a day. So there’s that.

Maybe it is that I fear the regrets of hindsight, and I don’t want to destroy our relationship.

But I can’t live in fear. At some point I have to walk in faith here.

Levi has asked that I share with you all the very rough draft of the beginning of the story he is writing, and I told him that I would be glad to. So this is in part a preface.

Keep in mind that writing assignments are painfully completed (or not, as the case may be) by this son. Painful execution. Painful style. IEW was a battle. Even the creative assignments.

But when he is supposed to be completing a math assignment?


Following is the first installment. I’ve edited his random capitalization and punctuation and reformatted the paragraphs. All other content is his spontaneous creativity.

Copyright 2015 by Levi Scovel


The Menagerie

A Chronicle of the Apprenticeship and Adulthood of a Young Ranger

Chapter One


It was a dark and stormy night, a night to stay indoors, a night of fear and woe, yet there was a young man out in the blackness, struggling against the wind and snow. His name was Canth; he was the new apprentice in the Menagerie, the place where Her Majesty's royal trackers and scouts were trained.

He had been told it was a honor for him, a castle ward, to be selected for such a prestigious apprenticeship. The selection had taken place on a fair morning. He had been roused from sleep and instructed to change into a brown and green tunic and elegant but sturdy brown pants, and to venture to the Apprenticeship Hall. He had stood in line, shortest to tallest; being the tallest ward he was the last. Then he listened to all the wards receive their apprenticeships.

The first was a young girl who was very lively and fast. "Rhuinnion Green?" questioned the Chancellor.

"Yes, my lord?"

"Have you a wish to be apprenticed to a certain master or mistress?" the Chancellor asked Rhuinnion.

"My lord, I wish to be apprenticed in the courtier class," she announced with a curtsey.

"That is a fine choice," the Chancellor cried! "What say you Ariana?"

"I have seen all I would wish in a Courtier! She is polite and could outpace a centaur!" Ariana replied courteously.

"Ah, Young Tucker is next, do I speak rightly young sir?" The Chancellor requested that Tucker step forward.

"My lord, I am Tucker Nightengale."

"Ah, so I spoke rightly. Well young man, have you a request as to your apprenticeship?"

"Why, yes I do, my lord," Tucker proclaimed somewhat quietly. "My request is to be in the Mage Archen!" he happily announced.

"Well, my boy, may you be delighted to learn that Cobalion of the Mages Archen accepts you!" announced the Mage. "Tis such a rare thing when a boy shows so much talent for Ice that we will accept them if they but ask!" Cobalion pronounced. Tucker blushed. "I have seen him summon an eagle of flawless pure turquoise Ice that can mentally communicate and fly better than a natural bird! This boy will learn many secrets and may succeed me as the Master of the Mages Archen!

“I now will announce a grand thing! I am decided to adopt Tucker as my son and heir! Chancellor, do I have your acceptance of this?"

The Chancellor replied wisely, "You have my Acceptance for this is a thing of wonder, but I must warn you that Tucker must accept your offer as well, or his magical power may be lessened by shock!"

"Tucker?" queried Cobalion.

"Yes, I will accept your offers. I accept both of them!" Tucker cried, and he walked from the room with Cobalion following.

Cobalion returned presently with Tucker beside him in his new Apprentice of the Archen robes. More apprenticeships were confirmed. Some were what the teens had hoped for, others were not, but equally accepted by the teen who had been given a different apprenticeship.

After the last of the ten young wards had received their apprenticeships, it was Canth's turn. He asked if he could become a swordsman. He was turned down; Baron Egan was not accepting apprenticeships now, for he had already received three this morn. Horse school was close to sword school, but they had filled their ranks with new apprentices previously and would not take another. Everywhere he turned there was only despair. Finally he asked if he might join the Rangers. This was the place. He was received! He could not believe his fortune. The only discomfort was that he knew that he would not be training nearby. Sadly he must venture north to the Hold of Gorain, where there was a magical gate that would send him to his training place. He had spent the last thirteen years in the royal castle of the newly crowned Queen Simylene, and rued that he had had to leave the beauteous palace.

Canth’s recent memory faded and he returned to the present. Smurph, smurph in the snow went his boots as he stumbled into the hold from which he would depart to his place of training.

[To be continued…]


AppleGreen said...

I just want to say, this is hard work we are doing. You know all the reasons, but that doesn't make it any less difficult. Our kids are close in age, my 4 are 14-6. Middle school is challenging, for our kids, who are literally remaking themselves, and for us parents, often receiving the brunt of the frustrations of growing up. I am having the realization that my dreams and goals for my oldest may not match his dreams, and my job is to get him to the path, but I can't do the walk for him. Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with your boy. It is difficult at times, but look at the voice you have given him! I loved reading the beginnings of his adventure. I'd say your walk to the path is coming along just as one would expect, not without a few tumbles and missteps, but filled with guidance, love and learning.

Mandi @ Life Your Way said...

These is so good, Heidi—both your introduction and the beginning of Levi's story. I think my oldest is a lot like him in so many ways, so I'm following the things you share carefully as I imagine what the transition to Challenge will be like for us in a couple of years.

Skeller said...

Oh gosh. Yes. Hard work. Second guessing, hoping, nose-to-the-grindstone, grace, despair, rejoicing, banging-the-heads-against-the-walls (adults & kiddos) ... in the end, walking in faith, all will be well because God is Good. And if I can't hold to that particular piece of faith-wisdom, I can always fall back on remembering what *I* learned thru all my public school years (whispering: and then I feel pretty much feel (arrogantly. or not) like I can't do any worse than that, and that I'm likely doing at least quite a bit better). This post reminds me of some of the paths we walked with my oldest son (math wasn't his bone of contention, but other things were). We did come to a loggerhead the second half of his 9th grade year and we plopped him into a classroom experience for the rest of that year. Things went a mite smoother at home after that - grin.

Heidi, your school, with all its strengths and its weaknesses, is a beautiful BEAUTIFUL place. And Bravo!!! to both you and Levi. This intro is compelling and lively. Levi's breadth of reading is so completely evident, and good writers have clearly influenced him.

Hannah said...

Well done, Levi! Your story shows great style and promise! And ... I see hints of the Ranger's Apprentice series in the soil of your rich imagination. :-)

Heidi, two things: yet again I am reminded of Ian, who dislikes both reading and writing when he HAS to do it, but loves them when he has the freedom to do so entirely by choice. All I can really do about that is make sure his schedule allows time for that, and that that important part of leisurely learning doesn't get crowded out by all the "have-tos." But you know that already. The other thing is that I so appreciate what you bravely share here. You have found a balance of honesty/vulnerability and celebration of beauty that makes this one of the very few blogs I keep coming back to.

Oh, and if you need a shot in the arm as a mama? I can highly recommend the little eBook "Mom Enough" from the Desiring God website. It's free and jampacked with bite-sized riches to fuel you. I'm reading a chapter each morning before my feet hit the floor. :-)

Carolyn said...

This is wonderful.

I too have a son (14) that flourishes much more in his own time than with homeschool assignments. My son is a musician, but it is the same struggle.

After homeschooling a VERY academically driven older brother who completed his Associate's degree at 16 and went on to university this year at age 17 - this creative mind is throwing me for a loop.

I have no answers, but I do know that I followed my older son's lead and allowed him to progress at his own pace and in his own interests, and it has worked quite well so far. I just need to change my "supposed" path for my younger son, trust, and follow his lead. (But, he really needs to finish his ALGEBRA!!!)

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Loved the story and can't wait to read more! I noticed that my boys write better when it is something they are interested in and not a required assignment.

Heidi said...

Thank you so much for the beautiful, kind, and encouraging comments, friends. They are so appreciated. I treasure each one.

Hannah~ His schedule *does* have down time *if* he would just focus and get his work done. The challenging thing in this situation is how to still make sure he has free time if math takes 4 hours, Latin takes 2... ;) Or what to do if he does the creative writing before (and instead of) what *must* be done.

annabelle said...

Our kids must be drinking the same water even though I live in the south. :)
Of the 3R's, reading is the one that they can't get enough of. Reading is aprat of our living. As for the other two, its a chore and sometimes even painful, for me and them.
Reading is key for anyone becoming a good writer, right? I didn't like math either and passed three college math classes with A's so they can too, right? ;)
One day at a time....

Levi -
I love the opening of your story and hope you will continue to share more with us. What if.... the gate to Canth's world were locked at the end of each day and the only way you could enter each morning was to defeat the monsters that guard the entrance. Math and Latin are their names, they are ugly horrible creatures. Arm yourself, you have a battle to win! ;)

Heidi said...

Annabelle~ I shared your comment with Levi and he laughed out loud. :D