The End of an Era

I've been struggling to find words to capture this day. Jonathan is graduating from high school tomorrow. And as you may or may not know, he's been homeschooled all these years. 

Jon Darby 5 yrs

Starting from first grade, he's been home with me and Eric and truthfully, we did a whole lot of un-schooling. That is, we let the kids find the things they were interested in and encouraged them to pursue those. 

Jon Darby 1st grade

Jon was always more interested in dressing up (every day!) and playing games that relied heavily on his imagination.

Would it surprise you to know that he's going to be pursuing an acting career? Specifically in comedy. I'm proud of him for having the courage to go after what he wants, but I'm scared for him, too.

Because Jon is the youngest of my four kids, this is obviously not my first rodeo graduation. 

When Amy walked in her bright red robes in 2001 twirling her gold Honor Thespian tassel, I clapped and cheered. I think I openly wept. There was no more proud mom at that moment.

Then Adam was asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at his graduation in 2004. I know I clapped and cheered. Louder than anyone. There might have been tears of relief mingled with joy.

Lucy did her thing in 2011. Of course, I clapped and cheered and shed my tears. I was blogging by then. Here's what I wrote about her graduation speech: Exact Change.

Now it's Jonathan's turn. He walks tomorrow and will be giving a speech, and I'll be honest, I'm much more tender about this moment than all the others. The other ones joke that it's because Jon is my favorite, but every other mom who has more than one child will understand that when "the baby" reaches a milestone it signals the end of an era for the parents. 


The only word to describe it is that I feel extremely "tender." As the mom who has homeschooled him for his entire school career, I'm the one who worried as he struggled to read. Who hoped he'd learn how to learn. Who made sure he ate and slept and did his chores and finished his work and said please and thank you. 

I woke up one day and in place of my sweet little guy was a man. Of course I went through this with each of my other kids, but this is the last one. The quiet and painfully shy one. The one who could barely speak up at our dinner table. I wrote about that here: The Biggest Insult.

Every time he takes the stage I'm blown away that my introverted Jon can command such a presence. That he is such a natural leader and gatherer of people. And that he's so darn funny.

Jon is the beneficiary of my blogging years and so I've managed to capture all of his best moments of growth on stage. 

This year he was Lazar Wolf in his high school production of Fiddler on the Roof.


Here's my favorite scene that he's in with his best friend, Nathan.  "To Life." 

And then, there came that bittersweet moment when he took his final bows.


And thanked our friend and the only director he's ever known. (I can't even look at this photo without weeping.)


So here he goes. Off to find his way in the world. And Eric and I are left shaking our heads in amazement and wonder. 


To steal a line from Fiddler (Sunrise, Sunset), "When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?" 

We are thrilled. We are delighted. We are left scratching our heads and wondering, "How did that happen so quickly?"

Tomorrow I'll cry and pray and hug my graduate. And I'll thank God that I was privileged to have a daily front row seat to The Jonathan Show. 


I'm taking a week off to plan and prepare (amidst my tears and joy) the biggest blow-out of a graduation celebration we've ever had around here. 

Congratulations, Jonathan and all the Class of 2014. Mazel tov, my friend. Better yet, here's TO LIFE.


Gleeks in Training

Lucy is a senior in high school this year. We've been talking about college options for a while now. But our conversations began in earnest at the beginning of this year. She's already taken a few courses at the community college level, but what did she want to do? Where would she be interested in going? What schools best provided what she wanted?

The questions were coming fast and furiously.

Obviously, because we homeschool, we're very proactive about our kids' education. So together we began our research.

Lucy's high school experience to date has been through the Orange County Department of Education. The high school provides online classes and supportive classroom instruction as well as varied programs and clubs that meet on campus.

They have a yearbook (which she worked on last year) and they host a prom each year. There is a wonderful full drama program, which we've enjoyed immensely.

But now both Lucy and Jonathan began to want more.

As much as I love homeschooling and as much as I think people who have the temperament for it should do it, I am not "militant" about homeschooling.

Like I've said before, my highest goal has always been to raise decent human beings who have "learned how to learn." Homeschooling has been one of the richest, most rewarding experiences of my life. It's been the best educational choice for our family.

So, what to do with homeschooled kids who are curious and talented and ambitious?

In January both of them applied to the Orange County High School of the Arts. (OCHSA - pronounced "OH-SHA").  Think "Fame" but without the hoodlums. =D

Their best friends (and beloved neighbors) also put in their applications.

From January to March there was a lot of waiting and fretting and hand-wringing while we waited to hear back from the school about audition dates.

Beginning of March ALL FOUR OF THEM (!) received auditions for their respective conservatories.

Final decisions were made and letters of acceptance received in May. Again, ALL FOUR OF THEM got accepted. (A lot of happy dancing ensued, as you can imagine, but that's not important right now.)

Train riders
Lucy, Jon, Tessia & Tori waiting for the train on the first day of school.

I've homeschooled both Lucy and Jonathan for most of their formative school years. (Read about our homeschooling exploits here.) And while I was happy for them and so proud, I went through a weird sort of grieving.

I just realized that I had worked myself out of my own job. But, I think this was a very good thing. ;-)

As of this week, Lucy is commencing her senior year of high school and Jonathan is a freshman at the Orange County High School of the Arts. (<--I can't believe I just wrote that. I know. Shut up.)

Ochsa sign
They get to take the train to school each day, along with their best friends, and take creative classes. They are out-of-their-skin excited. (Eric and I are out-of-our-skin proud.)

Train girl

[Fun Fact: Famous OCHSA alum, Matthew Morrison plays Will Schuester on the hit tv show, Glee.]


So, I'm technically very happily "unemployed" now.

As we went through the new student orientation on the campus, I giddily kept hearing Irene Cara singing "Fame" in a loop in my head. All the kids were so happy to be there. They had worked hard for admission and were excited to start school.

To my everlasting delight, one of the veteran parents actually said to me, "You should come down at lunch sometime. It's like 'Fame' but without the drugs and the dancing on the cars."

What am I going to do with myself? Well, for now, I've suddenly become a "Lady who lunches." This pleases me.

As for Lucy and Jonathan Darby....all I'm saying is.... remember their names. ;-)


Guest Contributor - that makes me sound taller, right? ;-)

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I sometimes find myself in various corners of the world-wide-web.

Today I have the distinct pleasure of being a Guest Contributor (<--doesn't that make me sound taller?) over at the wonderful Mommy Maestra site.


Monica is doing a phenomenal job of not only homeschooling her own children bilingually, (I know! Get this woman a cowl and a cape!) but also of sharing her many homeschooling resources.

I tell (in great detail) all about our own Homeschooling Journey, which you've gotten bits and pieces of right here.

Go check out Monica's site. I promise you'll be impressed. Tell her Marta sent you. Better yet, tell her in Spanish. ;-)