My son Peter has always been one of those rare individuals who is completely self motivated when it comes to school/education. I like to think that parental influence came into play (like the day we bought forty children’s books at Salvation Army for ten cents a piece and then sat down and read them all at once). However, as the mother of three I am only too aware that when it comes to personality and character, they are who they are, and no amount of parental influence is going to change that.
When it came to schooling, circumstance dictated that Peter moved around a lot, with two years here and two years there. Several of his schools had a real hippy vibe (one of them was on an ashram). One blissful year we homeschooled and spent a whole lot of time at the beach, in the woods and at our second home in Marfa, Texas. Undoubtedly he gained something wonderful from each of these schooling experiences (and became quite skilled at making new friends). But midway through the eighth grade it became clear to me that Peter needed something more. We were living in Meredith NH at the time and David (my ex husband) was working from home so we had some flexibility.
My research turned up a charter school in Nashua NH called The Academy for Science and Design which sounded like a great fit. In order to gain admittance a prospective student had to pass some rather rigorous exams. Peter crossed that hurtle and I started house hunting in earnest. After I found a lovely home in an adjacent town I prepared my arguments: better school which was tuition free, lower mortgage on a beautiful home significantly closer to MGH and two major airports. David and Peter were in and we took the leap.
The Academy of Science and Design proved to be a good academic environment for Peter as he tackled a curriculum heavy on math and science. At the same time, things weren’t going so well with our marriage and my health. It occurred to me that perhaps our son needed a village and I began to look into boarding schools. Much to my surprise, many of these institutions had hefty endowments and offered ample financial aid, making such a move potentially doable.
My criteria was that the school be no more than two hours away, so that we could visit often. Peter (reluctantly, poor kid was tired of changing schools at this point) and I began to tour and interview. Just as I started chemotherapy, we began the application process. I would lay wrapped in blankets on the couch as Peter would compose his essays. Somehow, someway, the two of us (David was totally hands off on this process) got through it. And again, somehow, someway, Peter was accepted to what some consider to be one of the best prep schools in the world, Phillips Exeter Academy. And he was offered a substantial financial aid package.
At that point, David jumped on the bandwagon. Peter surprised me by deciding that he would repeat a year (something that is not uncommon when you switch to a prep school). He began the first of what would be three years at Phillips Exeter.
Now a senior, we have once again gone through the application process, but this time for college and with a good deal more assistance (my dear friend Melinda and the fabulous college counselors at PEA). Last week Peter learned that he had been accepted to MIT, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To say this is an accomplishment–yes, I am tooting my son’s horn–is a gigantic understatement. His father and I are thrilled beyond belief for oh so many reasons. First, because Peter has wanted to attend MIT ever since he was a small boy. His participation in Camp Kesem (staffed by MIT students) only increased that desire, as did his internship last summer at the KOCH Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Secondly, it opens up a whole world of possibilities as he embarks on his college career. Thirdly, he will still be close to home. I can’t tell who how much that means to me, his father and his sister Jemesii. Here’s to you, kid. Mama couldn’t be any prouder.
SO SO happy for Peter and hugely impressed by him (as always) and just thrilled for you that you get to still have him close and watch him blossom at an institution that will set his future in motion… to limitless opportunities. Couldn’t ask for better news for a better kid… or mom. Congratulations! Love you! xoxo
Thank you Julia. It is an exciting time in his life as a whole new world of possibility is about to open. Love you back!
Love the smiling mama and son. A thrilling educational path with a superior “ending”. Congratulations to Peter and to you and to your family!!!!! Nancy
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Thank you Nancy!
That’s fantastic, go Peter go! I am excited by all the incredible possibilities for him there – the sky is the limit!
A giant high five from the left coast!
Thank you YSP—the kid just might follow in your footsteps! I’ll pass that giant high five along!
Congratulations to you both!! What an accomplishment and particularly in the face of the storm you as a family have been through. So happy for you Linnea!
Thank you Jamie. There were times I wasn’t certain how this all would end as sometimes it was just push come to shove. However, Peter persevered and made the best of an incredible opportunity at PEA—I am so, so proud of him.
Wonderful news, Linnea! Great to read Peter’s story. He must be a remarkable kid; I’m so happy for him. Coincidentally, I have three friends who have sons who are going to college next year; no news so far (to me, at least)…My oldest granddaughter is already a freshman at Claremont-McKenna college in CA, and she loves it. It’s a perfect fit for her. Her younger sister is already looking as she will be a senior next year. Tufts is her first choice, so I”m hoping she’ll be near me!!
FYI …I’m going to the Stowe Weekend of Hope end April. Free for Cancer Survivors: free lodging, workshops, hiking, yoga, etc… all day for three days. Have you ever been? Well worth going…very inspiring and hopeful and fun!
Otherwise, let’s get together soon! Always thinking of you!
Hey Laurie—it is an exciting time in all of their lives. So cool about the Weekend of Hope—I’ve never heard of it but it might coincide with Lungevity’s Hope Summit which I am attending the last weekend in May. But definitely—we need to get together soon!
I respectfully challenge your comment about no amount of parental influence can change a child’s character and personality. While I absolutely agree that so much of who we are seems to be predetermined I also believe that we are significantly influenced by those who raise us. So, you should take great pride in being a wonderful mom because I know two of your three children and they are absolutely wonderful people!
Thanks Amy. I joke that when Jem and Aug were teenagers I stopped taking credit so that I could dodge some of the blame 😉 Seriously though, I do believe that as much as we may influence our children, ultimately a good deal of who they become is not open to influence and that’s ok. In Peter’s case, we were able to provide some educational opportunities but he gets all the credit for taking full advantage. Some day you will meet my third child—he’s (also) wonderful!
Well deserved pride for all of you! Best hopes!
Thank you Craig!
Congratulations to both of you!
Thank you Joan!
Wow, I was thinking about him today and then was thrilled to see this update in your blog. Congratulations to all of you, and most especially to Peter. How absolutely wonderful. Wow!
Wow is right 🙂 Thank you Marie!
Congratulations on your outstanding accomplishment, Peter. And you’re cute too! Be proud Mama!
Thank you. I also think he’s really cute 😉
Congratulations to Peter, and a pat on the back for his proud mom. He did the work, but you paid close attention to his drive to learn, and you made sure that, especially in the crucial high school years, he was challenged by his education. His future is so bright, I almost need to put on sunglasses to look at that beautiful picture of the two of you.
Thank you Anita—it was bright that day ;0 I am so pleased we were able to find the right fit for him educationally but he gets the credit for giving it his all.
I adore this picture. He looks just like you and those smiles are precious. Sounds like he is quite a wonderful and able person, just like his mom.
Thank you—for the compliments all around!
Wonderful for the both of you!!
He sounds like one in a million, just like his Mom.
You guys both have such an incredible smile that shines so bright.
Thanks you Cheryl–he’s a special kid and I do love his smile.
Wow! That is absolutely AWESOME!! Congratulations to you all!!
Thank you Carol Ann!
Congratulations to mom and son for jobs well done. It has been a struggle with a happy ending. Keep the faith, keep the family close and love to you both.
Much appreciation Roni—I do feel like I can rest a bit now 🙂
Wow! That is awesome news! Congrats!!
Thank you Chrissy!
We mamas have to toot our children’s horns at times, and this is one of those times. It sounds like he has had a wonderful varied education already. I taught at a charter school I helped start on a reservation. They are truly a wonderful way for education to evolve. The prep school would be icing on the cake, if it weren’t for the fact that he will now be an MIT student close to you. Everything is coming up roses.☺️ Congratulations to your son and you.
Thank you miss Dora! Education is certainly a good way to give them a better chance in this world and Peter has been fortunate. Better yet, he’s made good use of it. So cool that you helped start a school—good on you. And hey, it was wonderful meeting you in DC; thanks again for the bag!