"Are you sure you want to do this? Because you’ll have to pluck it and everything."
"Yes I do, because this is my rite of passage...."
Rite of Friendship
January 19 2019
Although we were sure of his intent, Vassar was half-joking on the stories we just read about the more serious customs of other cultures. To him, killing a rooster at twelve was pretty tame compared to puncturing your scrotum and bleeding to honor the menstruation of tribal women, and his joke acknowledged it. But, he wasn’t really hiding his nervousness from us.
Our experience home schooling Vassar has educated all of us. Between the academic lessons and the reading, we like to find opportunities to show him the pragmatic side of life so, as a happy adult, he will have had enough experience to survive independently. Most of the time that means teaching him chores, buying groceries, or making dinner, but often the lesson comes from people like Tracy who have a different lifestyle than us.
Aside from the occasional fish and a summer of garden vegetables, none of us has ever killed anything we’ve eaten, so she would teach us the process of dispatching and preparing a chicken. For half-country types recently displaced from the city, it would be an enlightening experience that we would use to introduce Vassar to a part of life we don’t normally see, and, clearly he wasn’t the only one Tracy was teaching about self-sufficiency.
We drove to her house up a crusty, snow-covered driveway to find unlikely tools for the job that included boiling water, an empty windshield fluid container, and a lot of thanks to the roosters (we thought there would just be a hatchet). Tracy’s respect for the birds was the lesson's unexpected highlight, even more so than the technique for disembowelment. Yeah, it was gruesome, but also a necessary chore.
Learning about respect for an efficient life cycle would not have been possible without exposing him to practical knowledge like this. But aside from that, we adults learn to grow by seeking it, and we end up building rewarding relationships in the process. If we didn’t decide to home school, maybe we wouldn’t have met Tracy, we might not have had a reason to research other traditions, and perhaps he would never have witnessed someone thank the dinner bird for its services.
Everyone has something to give because each experience is unique. Before we started his education, we knew this intuitively, but only since then have we seen the diversity that comes from actively seeking knowledge. Meeting people like Tracy is part of that process, and we are happy to continue sharing our curiosity with her.
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