As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had promised myself that I would step back from the fight to save our school. I needed to spend time in the studio, not only because the time for my fall lottery is fast approaching (eek!) but because the studio is were I most consistently find peace.
I was not successful.
I didn’t intend to become involved, but when someone indicated that it might be helpful to have one of our former students speak at the school board meeting, I mentioned that my oldest son might be willing. His gift is writing, and for all that he is very introverted he’s a good public speaker. I agreed to ask him. And with that, we were involved once again.
I was sure Brandon would speak persuasively. (I am, after all, on the receiving end of his persuasion often enough!) I had my misgivings though, when we arrived at the Government Center. Restructuring the magnet schools has become a big issue here in Charlotte, so there were almost forty parents and community leaders registered to speak and hundreds more packed int0 the auditorium to listen. Previous public meetings had degenerated to shouting matches, so all the local news was there. I began to wonder what kind of mother would agree to send her normally shy eleven-year old into all that. He was so frightened that I kept envisioning him stepping up to the podium (which he could barely see over), saying a handful of words, and then bolting from the room in terror. I was sure I had consigned us all to years of therapy.
But that’s not what happened. He stepped up and delivered his speech. It was one of those wonderful moments as a parent when you catch a glimpse of the adult your child will be; where they show not only that they have been listening to all the lessons you’ve tried to impart, but that they brought to the process a special something that is theirs alone.
I was relieved that it turned out well for him, and I was pretty confident that he had made as good a case for our school as could be made. I allowed myself some hope that he may have moved some hearts. I wasn’t prepared for what came next. News reports focused on the young boy who they said spoke for all parents concerned about the state of Charlotte schools. Friends called us to say they had seen clips of Brandon speaking on the local news or heard people on the radio talking about him. A few days after he spoke, an editorial appeared in the paper about it. If we wanted visibility for the plight of our school, we sure got it.
I often say I have two jobs – mother and artist. The second job has the advantage of providing immediate (well, almost immediate!) feedback. I know when I pull the horse from the kiln whether or not my choices worked. After the horse ships out to its new owner, I get still more feedback. My husband likes to say that my job as a mother is an exercise in delayed gratification. I have to work from faith that I’m making the right decisions because I won’t know the outcome for a long time. Unlike my work as an artist, I don’t get a lot of clear guideposts. This past week, I’ve indulged myself with thoughts that I am on the right track.
And having done that, I really do intend to return my attention to my second job. All these bisques are beginning to stare at me accusingly with their little (still colorless!) eyes.