Friday, October 21, 2011

Divergent Paths

For the record, practicing guitar is easier than learning Kreb's Cycle. If you don't remember Kreb's cycle, it is probably because you didn't understand it in the first place. Asherel and I made a chart, filled in all the co enzymes, products, ATPs, NADs, Acetyl CoA as needed, and then sat down together to do the end of section test.
"Don't answer unless we both agree," I warned her.
"What answer is most common, b or c?"
"That doesn't matter, we are not going to guess. We are going to determine the correct answer."
She looked dubious, "I think it is B. They almost never have A or D as the answer in multiple choice."

I gathered our chart of Kreb's cycle and our notes that we had taken in front of us. Then I took a deep breath, which by the way, is part of how Kreb's cycle works...it needs oxygen and is the basis of cell respiration. As Asherel's video teacher keeps telling us, "How cool is that?"
"Ready? OK, question number one...how many ATPs are produced as the result of glycolosis and Kreb's cycle? We can do this! We know this! 2!"
"No, 4."
"Don't answer! We don't agree."
"Mom, it's 4."
"Should we just guess B? I think you are right that usually it is B or C."
"Mom, I know this one. It's 4."
"Are you certain?"
"Yes."
"Well then go for it. I think it is 2."
The little video quiz instantly pops up the correct answer. It was 4.
"Oh!" I said, "I misread the question. I just thought we were looking at glycolosis, not Kreb's cycle too!"
Asherel smirked at me, "Read the question carefully!"
I won't tell you our final score, but we didn't fail. At this point, that gives me hope.

"What are you going to do with that Kreb's cycle chart?" asked Asherel.
"Hang it in your room."
She looked horrified, obviously picturing John, Paul, George and Ringo having to give up one of their prime wall positions to let Krebs in.
"No!"
"Well I want it to go somewhere where you will see it everyday and learn it."
(I would like to take a moment to let you parents doing early Christmas shopping know that if you have a teenager, you can cross the Kreb's Cycle poster off the Christmas list.)
"Maybe in the bathroom, then, " I said, picking up our Kreb's poster.

Guitar lesson was a blessed respite. Lenny taught her how to play another Beatles song, and I drew on my iPod. My brain ached.

I think Kreb's cycle is one of the harder things we will have to figure out in Biology. I can't wait for the sections on anatomy. Even genetics is easier than Kreb's. But the strange this is, I felt proud. I haven't worked that hard to understand something in a long time. Most of schooling high school level courses is providing mentors and resources in the areas I am not skilled in....which is all of them. Well, except for art. I think I am actually a pretty good art teacher. However, I took a subject I had not remembered at all, looked at several hours of text and videos with Asherel, and managed to understand it, at least to a small degree. And I am remembering something about school I had forgotten. Learning something that you were certain you could never learn is satisfying. Deeply satisfying.

We moved on to Poetry.
"Oh, today we read my favorite poem!"
"What is it?" She looked worried.
"The Road not Taken," I told Asherel.
I began to read. As I read, my eyes began to fill with tears. I could see Asherel rolling her eyes. Whenever  I read her a magnificent poem, I start crying.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Tears rolled down my cheeks and I tried to choke out the words, "Why do you think he tells this with a sigh?"
Asherel was still rolling her eyes, but paused, "Hmmm. He feels sorry for the road?"
"He doesn't personify the road so you shouldn't either. What do you think he's feeling if he retells this with a sigh?"
"Regret?"
"Yes!!!!! Why do you think he speaks with regret?"
(And please don't tell me because he had to learn Kreb's cycle before going on his walk in the woods.)
"Well, because he had to make a choice, and he wasn't certain it was the right one."
"You know," I told her, "Every choice means you must give up something else. So every choice involves loss. And sometimes, you will never know if the decisions you made were the right ones or not."
By now, I am really feeling like sobbing, because the poem touches the very core of my soul. So many decisions in life I look back on with regret, or with ambiguity. Was it the best choice?
"What does he mean in the lines-
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted I should ever come back."
"He won't pass that way again... the road leads him further and further away."
"Homeschooling is one of those divergent paths for me," I told her, "Every year I agonize whether taking that path is the best path. We give up alot as homeschoolers...but we also gain alot. I will never know if that choice was the best choice, but I can't go back, at least not to reclaim the years that have already passed."

I thought of all the choices, the really big choices in life that my beloved daughter will have to make. Later, without even knowing what sparked it, we were returning from guitar lesson and were discussing why I am so passionate, so strong in my opinion about certain things, mostly things of God.
"Of all the things I help you to choose, as a parent, what I desire more than anything is that you will choose God. It is the one path that I hope more than all others you will choose to follow. But all I can do is set forth the example, and my reasons while you are young. Ultimately, it will be your decision, not mine."
We were quiet for the rest of the ride home as I thought of the line from Frost's poem, "And that has made all the difference."

Joshua 24: 15
15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

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