The Weirdest Kid In Our Family

Let me begin by saying that we are not exactly the most mainstream family. We try to live below our means, though really, we don’t. We garden and try to put up some, or hopefully a lot, of our own food. We spend far more money on our livestock and pets than we do on clothing, entertainment or cars. We are, by most definitions, ‘Crunchy.’ We also have a couple of kids who are pretty much grown and who are choosing their own life-paths and destinations. One seems to be quite on track for the Typical American Dream–college, career plans, cute/smart girlfriend, cell phone, responsibilities. The other is a nanny on a ranch in Wyoming. She never leaves the ranch. Not *quite* mainstream…My step-daughter is gorgeous, ditzy, hard-working and a bit of a rebel. Our 5 year old, to quote, “Never, never, never, never, never want to go to school. Not even High School. Not even college!” She loves nothing so much as building fairy houses and stomping in mountain creeks. Not an abnormal child, but not the typical bored-unless-entertained type either.
Then there’s Travis. Travis is a self-proclaimed ‘weird kid.’ He seems to embrace his different-ness. He’s drifty. He is not a linear thinker (the rest of us are). I compare our thought patterns to garden hose attachments: Most of our family have spray nozzles that concentrate the stream so that our thoughts can usually hit a target with minimal effort but Travis’ thought-hose is attached to a sprinkler and so it takes a lot of time for his brain to process and arrive at the same place the rest of us landed immediately. This is not really a bad thing because he also comes up with all sorts of creative ways to attack a problem that the rest of us completely bypass. He is, to use a modern cliche’, an Outside the Box Thinker. He is quiet a lot of the time and then he bursts open with a stream of words that is shocking in both content and volume. He will reminisce about a great book we read or have some input on modern, organized religion. It’s easy to think he’s kind of doofy but then I get a glimpse of his internal life and wonder how he keeps all of that hidden like he does, especially from me when I live my life, literally, right next to him.
Within our family dynamic, Travis is the Low Man. He is the youngest brother and 2nd youngest child. He was 9 when his little sister was born. He had to sneak or fight for everything he ever got (or got around) his older sibs. He learned to stay quiet and try to fly under the radar. He never really stood out or shone in any way. Not a baseball star. Not an academic. Not a musician or even a wannabe musician. There were a lot of nots on My List of Travis and not so many things that were great qualities. He was a tough kid to pin down by typical descriptions or qualifications. Just a nice kid with feelings easily bruised and an almost placid personality.
So now, suddenly, he shines. His transformation or maybe more accurately, his Shining Through has been amazing to behold. People constantly comment on what a great kid he is. I am bombarded with questions from friends about how I managed to raise a kid who came into teenhood without a boatload of angst or anger. How is it that he is such a peaceful person at 15? My neighbor drools over the fence at him, not because he’s so cute (which he is) but because she hopes her 2 year old son will grow into such a young man. People trust him and he deserves it.
He makes eye contact with folks when he speaks to them–even adults. He helps without being asked, holds doors, works hard, and never, never complains. He has this strong sense that chores are a part of being a member of a family and does what he’s asked, even when it’s a lot. And often it *is* a lot.
Where did this immense sort of manly, calm confidence come from? I wonder. I really don’t feel like I can take the credit for it, though I’m sure I must have done something right.
Two days ago we picked him and his girl/friend up from 3 weeks at summer camp. Around here we happily refer to it as Hippie Camp. Here’s where:
He came back a bit changed. A little stronger, a little more confident, a little more grown up than when he left. He hiked 60 miles on the Appalachian Trail with 3 counselors and 5 other campers, carrying his bedding, his food, and whatever else the weaker hikers couldn’t tote. He slept under a tarp. He listened to ghost stories and whippoorwills. A bear ate his girlfriend’s G.O.R.P. (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) while they snored 20′ away. He went from being a hiker in the middle of the pack to hiking point (in the lead) with one other hiker.
All of this makes me tearful with pride. When did my dorky little kid with the dirty face who got beat up in school turn into this guy who other kids flock to? When did he become cool? When did he become a leader?
I’m not sure. I am sure it was not overnight or even over a week on the AT. It’s been an unfolding over the last many years but I’m pretty sure that homeschooling is the biggest part of it. The weirdest kid in our family has somehow changed not only himself but every one of us by making us closely examine what it is that we value and hold dear. Often during this examining we realize that we have been so focused on the target that we never realized missing it altogether may be the best thing of all.


About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
This entry was posted in children, environment, family, health and well-being, homeschool, parenting, personal, travel, Travis. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s