Wednesday, September 09, 2009

today is the day

Big One's first day of school. He's checking his new watch to make sure he'll get there on time. This day has been coming for some time, in glimmerings and rumblings, and more recently in definite plans and deadlines. He has for some time felt restrained by the tiny circle of his home school colleagues, which primarily consist of me, his brother, the dog and four cats. He wants, fervently wants, to do school with other kids his own age. He wants more direction, less free time, more projects, more work. He truly wants those things.

I am trying hard not to see this as another failure. I have really struggled this summer, with my feelings of not quite being up to the task of home schooling a middle schooler, and my desire to get back out in the world again. I admitted to myself not long ago that I'm not happy being home all the time, and so I presented Big with an opportunity: if you were to go to school this year, you'd be one of many kids who are new to the school. The local middle school has three feeder elementary schools, so nobody knows everybody. He was delighted to hear it, and jumped in with both feet. He decided, we registered him, he met some teachers and saw the building, and he's never looked back, not for a moment.

(Although last night in the car, he asked me to remind him why he's doing this. I want you to know that I was a mature adult mama, and I did so, with grace, love, and honesty.)

(Also this morning, he admitted he's feeling apprehensive, but also excited. I chose not to tell him that I hardly slept, and that I sobbed as I made his lunch at 6:30 a.m.)

My feelings today are so mixed. I'm incredibly proud of him for choosing public school when so much of his life has been defined by the choice not to go to public school. He was attending my private progressive school when he was three, and he loved it there. He has loved home schooling not quite as much, but he's enjoyed his freedom and his friends, and he knows that learning is supposed to come with a large dose of intellectual freedom and autonomy. He knows these things will be scant or absent in his new setting, but he's choosing it anyway, for reasons of his own.

I'm excited for myself, because I know that although Little is choosing to stay home this year, the time is coming when he too will want to get out there and find out first hand about formal schooling. And people? When he does? I am so outta here. I am going to burn it up getting back out there in the schools, working with other people's kids, because that is the work that reminds me of who I am.

When I'm teaching, I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but I'm satisfied, and I know I've accomplished something small and significant, every day. The work of being an important adult in the lives of children who need another adult is what I'm here for. Working with my own kids just doesn't cut it, and while it's taken me a long time to admit it, I'm there now, and that is going to lead us down a long path into the unknown.

Here we go.

And there he goes.


JoVE said...

Sounds like you've been going through a lot. And made some good but tough decisions. If I lived closer I'd come over and have tea just so you don't feel so alone on his first day.

Being a grown up is hard. You are doing a great job.

Joe Deluxe said...

Big One leads the way! Good for him.

Voodoo Mama said...

When you're ready to start teaching other people's children again (another homeschool class?), let me know--we'll be first in line!

Granna Judy said...

Beautifully written -- I really understand how you feel. Can't wait for the update -- please post it tonight!

Granna Judy said...

I've been thinking about this post for a couple of hours and I have to share my reactions. You said you were struggling with feelings of not being up to the task of homeschooling a middle schooler. I don't see you as inadequate at all; in my opinion, his going to school is more a function of his maturing and needing to move out of the nest, and you have made that possible. That's what you're supposed to do for your children -- give them the strength and the confidence to move out on their own. And that's what you did.

I'm totally in agreement about not being able to stay home fulltime! As you know, I didn't want to do that either, even though there were many times that I felt guilty about it. So before too long you'll be back in the schools, I'm sure, and the schools and the kids will be lucky to have you there.

And your sons will thrive, because of your parenting -- yours and Joe's.

You go, girl!

Katy said...

usually a lurker...but wanted to tell you that I see Big's entry into school as a sign that he's ready to explore more of the world, too, not a sign that homeschooling was inadequate. I have an 8yo & a 5yo, both in public school, and sometimes I feel guilty that I am not homeschooling them...but I'm not sure it would be the best choice for them, for me, for now.
p.s. will you move to MA and teach my kids? :)

Christie Burnett said...

"When I'm teaching, I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but I'm satisfied, and I know I've accomplished something small and significant, every day. The work of being an important adult in the lives of children who need another adult is what I'm here for."

So true, I completely understand what you are saying here and how lucky those children are to have you as their 'other' significant adult.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's huge. He's lucky to have parents who really listen to him and what is best for him.

I struggle all the time with sending my kids to their school. It's just not what we wanted in so many ways...but then in many ways it's wonderful, and the best thing for the family as a whole. But still a struggle.