Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - August 2014

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Page 8 of 45 n Hudson Valley Parent 9 I am a Hudson Valley Parent Bob Muller: Following Truth, wherever he may lead By KATHLEEN WILLCOX P arenting is a 24/7 job, with no time off for good behav- ior. What happens when you put that dedication and commitment in a pressure cooker on high? You get a snapshot of Bob Muller's exceedingly above-average approach to parenting. "I have been a stay-at-home dad since Day One," Muller says. "My wife loves her job as a librarian at the New York Public Library, so we decided that I should be the one to stay home with Truth when he was born 14 years ago." Little did he know the wild ride that awaited. "Staying at home is a 24-hour- a-day job, no doubt," he said. "But then I decided to homeschool Truth, and it became a 48-hour-a-day job." Muller chuckles as he describes his attempt to best guide, corral and curate the passions, interests and cerebral activity of his 14-year-old polymath son, Truth. "He takes the lead, and I just try to keep up." Muller never envisioned that his journey as a stay-at-home dad would include homeschooling his son, but he and his wife quickly discovered that a traditional structured school day was not a venue in which Truth could exert his formidable intellect and energy. "We sent him to public school and when he came home, he would never talk about it," Muller said. "He was normally so effusive, but he just didn't have much to say about it either way." It soon became clear that Truth was well ahead of his classmates. The Mullers worried that Truth's full potential would be stymied by a conventional education. "When Truth told me that he learned more from me at home when he wasn't in school, that did it," Muller said. They decided to homeschool him, and they've never looked back. What's a typical day like in the Muller household? "We build our own chemistry set and do a few experiments in the kitchen, we follow animal tracks in the woods, we hit the library and check out 10 books on Vietnam, he spends an hour reading a fantasy novel like 'Treasure Island' and then my wife gives him a French lesson when she gets home from work." The Mullers also learned early on to foster Truth's love of the outdoors. "We spend a lot of time outside, especially working, volunteering and studying at the Basha Kill Area Association," says Muller. "Truth is involved in 4-H, we are both Eagle Watch and Nature Watch educators, water test volunteers. We'll visit old trails, historical societies and muse- ums and one thing leads to another. We've launched countless scientific experiments and history projects with our days in the fields of the Hudson Valley." Especially notable is Truth's re- markable work with bats. Truth founded the program Buddies for Bats after learning that 93 percent of New York State's bats have perished from the deadly fun- gus White Nose Syndrome, putting our ecosystem in peril (bats are one of the world's top pollinators). Bud- dies for Bats won him $1,000 from the Pollination Project for his educa- tion and outreach program, as well as a profile on the White House's "For the Win" blog series. He also regularly gives lectures in classrooms and libraries all over the Hudson Valley. To find out more about his work with bats, or to at- tend one of his upcoming talks, visit his Buddies for Bats Facebook page. And if you want to tear a page out of Muller's parenting playbook, his advice is simple: "Just support your kids, focus on reading, take advan- tage of the great outdoors and try to be as in-tune to their interests as you can. And most of all, listen to your own instincts as a parent." Do you know a Hudson Valley parent who inspires you? Sub- mit your "I am a Hudson Valley Parent" nominations at hvparent. com/imahvpnominee "He takes the lead, and I just try to keep up." Truth Muller stands with his project at a recent Congressional Science Fair in Washington, D.C.

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