For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Friday, August 10, 2007

Structured autonomy

Owen is back from cadet camp.
Even in the first year after AL was born I learned that whatever principles, ideals, scruples or opinions I might have had, they were all going to be turned around, thrown out the window, forgotten or trampled upon. Challenged, at the very least.
My children - and I’m very much including my clan children in this - taught me that expectations were no more than obstacles, blinkers, causes of pain, hurt pride and desillusion.
I’ve learned to be ready for the unexpected.
Well, there’s definitely no way I was prepared to experience what I felt today.
This huge sense of gratitude for the British Army.
For the fact that they gave my son a chance to discover the best in himself.
It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen Owen as happy and content as I’ve seen him today. He looks radiant. Self confident. Proud of himself. Bronzed and muscled. A Young Man.

It is more than obvious that these twelve days of discipline, structured and organized physical activities, learning and excelling in all kind of skills, being appreciated for his willingness to take part, being given responsibilities for overseeable tasks, being seen as one of the team (not only men! I hasten to add!), being able to talk about things that are important to him and share them with others, has done him the world of good.

So this is what it’s about, I think. I feel. Autonomy. It isn’t about structured or unstructured. It isn’t about learning from books or from life, in school or at home. It’s nothing to do with veganism, homeopathy, Zen, spirituality, religion or atheism.
It’s everything to do with freedom. Freedom of choice. And being given a total and unconditional freedom of choice. Being able to genuinely follow your heart’s choice.

Owen has made a choice. He hasn’t discussed it at length with me, with us. Because he just doesn’t do the verbal thing, the putting feelings into words. Although, when he does he is so crystal clear it is practically impossible to misunderstand him. But after having had the chance to try out both the structured and the unstructured, after having tried out both the self directed learning and the instructed learning, he chooses to join the cadets and he is determined to join the army.

I realise that I expected to feel sad and troubled about that. And in a way I do. I cannot imagine any mother in these times not feeling troubled about her child wanting to join the army. But strangely enough I most of all feel happy. I haven’t been able to wipe the grin of my face since I saw him get off that bus.
He was in here just a minute ago to sit on my lap for a second (any longer and he would have crushed me) and hug me intensely. He is so happy. So how could I not be?

He hasn’t changed. But he has found the ultimate way to be who he is. And he has most definitely found it all by himself.

4 comments:

Dawny said...

awwwww how fantastic - I mean yes we'd all worry but being on fire with life like that is always good :) don't they just grow up fast!
ps your Owen link didn't work :(

Dawny said...

AH HA! the link wworked and brought me back here lol xx

Ruth said...

" he is determined to join the army."

So is D. I haven't got to a place I am happy about it yet tbh. Maybe cos he is only 8. My AS brother did 22 years in it and it wasn't an easy ride for him but he did well and has a good job now he si out.

Gill said...

"So this is what it’s about, I think. I feel. Autonomy. It isn’t about structured or unstructured. It isn’t about learning from books or from life, in school or at home. It’s nothing to do with veganism, homeopathy, Zen, spirituality, religion or atheism.
It’s everything to do with freedom. Freedom of choice. And being given a total and unconditional freedom of choice. Being able to genuinely follow your heart’s choice."

Brilliant! I wholeheartedly agree.