4/27: Aphrodite

I watched my son fall in love this weekend.

I took him to a conservatory school a few hours away, one he could apply to as a gap year between graduating and going to college. We toured, and he attended classes. Girls were extremely friendly and interested. He’s tall, quirky handsome.

“I think that one girl really liked you.”
“That occurred to me.”
“She was pretty.”
“Yep.” Pause. “All this time, I just needed to be in the right location.”

But that wasn’t where he fell in love. That happened in a Mythology class. It was taught by a terrific professor who was focused on Jason and Medea. As the teacher kept prodding the kids in class, all of whom seemed shy or unprepared or just sleepy, H finally raised his hand when no one else was volunteering anything but slack-jawed “uhhhh”s.

“I haven’t read the play,” he said, “but it seems to make like Jason is just really stupid.”

“YES,” said the teacher. H’s observation, which got a few giggles, seemed to open up the classroom. Suddenly, the kids remembered that teachers usually don’t want a particular answer (at least, the good ones don’t), they just want response. Meanwhile, H himself was completely engaged. “Man, I wish I could take classes like that, Mom. That was awesome.”

I’ve known about the kid’s fascination with mythology, no surprise given that it was one of my favorite subjects, and his father loves superheroes, which are basically cartoon versions of the Greek pantheon. What was truly thrilling was to see how much he loved learning simply for the sake of learning.

He felt at home, though the school’s a long shot—though I firmly believe that if these things are meant to be, they will be. Most importantly, his eyes were opened up wide. This is what school could be like.

The head of the theater department was frank with us. They’re teaching kids who want to go from there to Julliard or Carnegie Mellon. H isn’t there. But I love the fact that my son doesn’t want to go into acting to get into a top school and then go on to a career in theater and film, an illusion that I’d guess most of the kids in the program cherish.

My kid wants to study theater because he just freaking loves it.

Degrees, we all know, are no guarantee of a job. So they have to be valuable for being simply what they are, a chance to immerse yourself for four years in the study of something that makes your life better, that makes you happy, that helps you live more richly and with greater joy.

My son is ready to live that. The future looks bright. The present is beautiful.

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