The inevitable has come. School starts back tomorrow. As much as my soon-to-be 8 year old sometimes drives me crazy…she is still MY girl and I love being around her. I tried the home school thing for Kindergarten. I figured that was the time to try it without causing too many repercussions in case it didn’t go well. I’m glad I did so I wouldn’t have to “wonder” or have any regrets for not trying it. But her first grade year in public school went so well we are doing it again.
I am not going to get into the debate of right or wrong school choices because guess what folks…we are all different. So are our kids. Home, private or public – I think they can all be right or they can all be wrong. There are so many variables. It is the same for working verses stay at home parents. Every situation has its pros and cons. Deal with it. It comes down to what is right for you and your child. I can only say this because I have been on both sides of both equations. And the bottom line is you make the decision and then make it right. If you see red flags…tweak your plan and try something new. We are in a great country with lots of choices. Take advantage of that.
The truth is she is only in public school because I made a deal with God. I had never done that before…it was more like one of those “Give me a sign” fluke kind of deals. I was looking for some kind of direction. I was aimless and unsure and resolved that if she was chosen by the lottery for a particular magnet school then that was my answer. l had no real expectations because I don’t ever win anything by chance…never…I mean never ever. So when her name was the FIRST called – I had a little private moment and laugh just between me and God. Umm, yea – that would be a loud, resounding YES to public school. 10-4 God…got it.
A few months later my husband took me to PF Chang’s for what I thought was a much needed dinner date a few months after the birth of our child. But surprise! It was actually where he decided to tell me that our marriage was over. Yes…right there in public. As you can imagine I wasn’t very hungry after that and as tears started streaming down my face he was frustrated so he commanded that I “look normal and try to eat something”. Wow. Really?
It took my slow processing brain a few days to fully comprehend the shock. But the following days, weeks and months I slowly fell apart at the seams and became a sobbing, bumbling, idiot as more details came to light and I found out that a good portion of my marriage was all just a lie. A marriage ending is bad enough. Being replaced during a pregnancy and delivery is a whole new level of degradation and rejection that you cannot comprehend unless you have been there.
So, to say the least homeschooling was the last thing in the world that I could have attempted in that state. It seemed that the magnet school lottery WAS a sign (IF you believe in that kind of thing…if you don’t you are thinking to yourself that it was just a random act of good fortune where numbers, math, and maybe even the string theory could have come into play). I have thanked God over and over for that answer he gave me so loudly before I had any idea of what was to come.
The REAL point here is that my big girl is off to school tomorrow. She is more ready and excited than I am, of course. We have waited until the last possible minute to get all our supplies, clothes and stuff. Maybe we were both trying to squeeze the last possible days and hours out of summer. But tomorrow reality begins. Well…today. We met the teacher, dropped off school supplies, stocked her desk and checked the room out. It was fun and, yes…even exciting.
It was nice to feel at peace. Though I still struggle with the public school decision it’s not because I’ve had a bad experience…it’s just plain selfishness. Maybe some fear mixed in there too. What she sees, hears, learns, does, who she talks too…it is all beyond my control for 7 hours a day. The bad part of that is obvious…we have all heard the horror stories. But how about the good part?
My child is exposed to so many different personality types – teachers, students, administration, janitors, etc. She is learning so many skills beyond just reading, writing and math. And when problem situations arise they are opportunities to work through it with her – and yes, I honestly believe that. And I am also thankful for the many opportunities to help out and be involved in so many school and PTA activities. It doesn’t feel so mysterious or scary to me that way.
When we finally got around to school shopping just yesterday we went to our favorite store – Once Upon A Child. She found a dress that at first sight looked like something a vagabond would wear – or maybe something Cyndi Lauper would possibly wear on stage. The dress is composed of a million 1 inch layers of different colors of cloth and they are all…let’s say, bright. Very bright. It is also long so the effect is amplified. I held back my initial reaction when I saw that she was serious about trying it on.
And when she put it on it couldn’t have been more her. A bit zany, quirky and really silly…but also profound. I said, “You know…this dress reminds me of Joseph’s coat of many colors”. She immediately got the reference and lit up. She knew that meant it was “special”. More importantly she understood that I was specifically saying SHE was special.
After that pivotal dinner at PF Changs over a year ago, I had to let go of control on SOOOO many levels, by letting go of my “plans”, naivety, personal agendas or ideas about “how life should be”, and yes, even my child’s sense of fashion to a certain degree. And here is the really big one – the realization that I simply can’t be all things to my child all the time. I was dumb for even thinking or feeling like I had to be. Though it was a terribly painful process, I am enlightened…open…ready. The serotinous seed awakes through the fire.
ALL THAT to say this…Life is like this huge tapestry…we all have different threads and colors to weave into each other’s lives. If you limit yourself your tapestry is going to be a bit boring. Maybe you like it like that. But if you step back and let go of some (not ALL) of the control and stop being so afraid of letting other people weave their colors into yours and your children’s lives…you just might get an interesting, bright, colorful tapestry…just like her funky new favorite dress.
So, brace yourselves any of you mommies out there that might see my daughter this year. And when you see her coming your way in her dress of many colors, just smile and think how very beautiful she looks in it.