Here & there: Let’s not talk about Charlottesville or the solar eclipse

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — I could write about  last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. But what I can say that you haven’t already heard – or felt?

I could write about tomorrow’s solar eclipse. But I have no new astrological insights or tips about a great viewing spot away from the crowds.

Both events are settling on me profoundly. In different ways. But the collective effect is that I feel heavy. Heavy with fear. Heavy with disappointment. Heavy with apprehension. Heavy with the weight of what’s happening around me.

This isn’t what this time of year is supposed to feel like. It’s supposed to feel like you’re Harry Potter about to start Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Minus the whole being a wizard thing.

But still, a fresh start. New opportunities for learning. New opportunities for growth. And new school supplies – even if they are No. 2 pencils and grid paper from Walmart instead of wands from Diagon Alley.

My oldest starts high school tomorrow. Those ahead of me on this parenting journey tell me this is when things really start to accelerate. Driving. Dating. After-school jobs. Grades that matter.

Before I know it, my boy will be an adult and out in the world as his own person, not as a trainee under his parent’s influence – a person who will affect the world around him.

I don’t want my boy to start all of that with the same feelings of heaviness I feel. I want him to feel like Harry Potter: excited, optimistic.

And brave.

Brave in the sense of being true to who he is. Brave in the sense of standing up for other people who need to be stood up for. Brave in the sense of standing up for himself. Brave in the sense of challenging his world view.

Last week, I reached out to a friend who has two high school boys because my boy wanted some advice about his freshman schedule. Her boys eagerly provided the solicited information about the chemistry class in question, and also some unsolicited advice: “Don’t take the easy path to acceptance by turning into a (jerk).

My boy smiled at the advice. He seemed to think that it was an obvious choice. But it is just that – a choice; or rather a series of choices. And sometimes we don’t realize where the aggregate of those small choices leads.

No one goes into high school – or life for that matter – wanting to turn into a jerk. But some of us do. As a community we are unfaithful spouses, we are bigots and sexists and white nationalists.

We are also a community of faithful spouses, and we are advocates and tender caregivers and do-gooders.

Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, gave the protagonist some valuable advice at the end of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”:

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

So, to my son: As you start high school, feel excited about what the world holds for you. Don’t let the heaviness around you feel discouraging. You have the power to choose who you are in high school and then who you will be in the world. And that’s everything.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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