Learning Discomfort

The Parent Imperfect reported earlier that Vincent had decided to participate in the OWL Program offered to local UU youth by the First Parish in Brookline Unitarian Universalist. Our Whole Lives is an award-winning educational series on sexuality and relationships for young people.

It took some time to decide that OWL was right for Vince, but it has turned out to be quite a positive experience. He has kept the pledge to divulge nothing that happens in the meetings to anyone, especially parents. Liz and the PI note, however, that they have never had to apply pressure to get Vince to attend, which says volumes, at this point.

Vince did think twice about yesterday’s special meeting. The OWL team had organized a field trip to the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Brookline, so that the OWLERs would learn what goes on there, and what has gone on there. The adults involved with this had warned Vince and his friends that they might well encounter protesters who stood outside the clinic each day and harassed people entering and leaving the facility.

This seventh grader didn’t really like the idea of having people screaming at him, but, in the end, he decided to spend his Saturday morning just that way. The code of silence has prevented Liz and the PI from getting details of the visit from their son, but one of the other parents sent an e-mail to the adult team, thanking them for keeping the young people safe in a really difficult situation. Here is how the OWL adult team described the experience in a follow-up to parents:

Great care was taken by the OWL leaders to circumnavigate the protesters that are present day after day.  Nonetheless, the group was confronted as they entered and especially when they exited the building.  The youth heard some confusing if not startling statements and questions, some of the directed at them.  In today’s session, the youth had an opportunity to debrief the experience.

Vince would only say that he was uncomfortable at first, but it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. The PI certainly endured a lot of discomfort when he was in seventh grade, but very little of it offered the sort of learning possible that the OWL discomfort gave Vince yesterday. He will try to remember that when he is in conflict with Vince over homework or the use of the game console that the PI, himself, brought into the house 2 years ago.

While Vince was learning about Planned Parenthood, the PI was helping out at the tryouts for the Senior Division of the Regan Youth Baseball League. He has decided that he wants to be involved with the league this year, even though Vince won’t be playing. No that his knees won’t allow him to play even slow-pitch softball, he must do something to meet a spring need that comes from very deep within him.

Thirty-five boys and one courageous sixth-grade girl showed up to try out on a cold, sunny day that was more suited to football…or skiing, than the national pastime. In the middle of it all, one parent gave the PI very positive feedback on the fourth grade Advanced Work Class at the Curley School. That the parent happens to have another daughter at the Hernández gives more credence to his views.

The deadline for changing Connie’s school choice for next came and passed on Friday, with the PI safely out of the way on a work trip to Washington. Liz had her own conversation with the Parent Coordinator, who repeated much of what she had said to the PI the day before. Left to her own devices, Liz would have changed the form, but she didn’t feel empowered to make such a change. The PI wonders what is it about this particular decision that leaves Liz thinking that she needs to be empowered to take things into her own hands?

The Parent Coordinator repeated that Liz and the PI ought to soon have a conversation with La Principal, if they still harbor some illusion of keeping Connie at the Hernández next year. At the RHS, one has their cake and eats it only with great care. The RHS leadership has summoned all third-grade parents to a “mandatory” meeting at the school on Monday. This may offer Liz and the PI the “opportunity” to have a conversation that they would really rather avoid.

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