Something new

This year we begin something new.  Myles will be attending an alternative community school part-time and the other part of his time he will be learning at home with me. Making this decision was not easy. For the past two years Myles attended our local public school. Some days were good, some days were bad. But most were an uninspiring lukewarm. He certainly wasn't thriving.  I struggled with getting in line at school and taking a number.  Being pressured to accept the status quo and not ask a whole lot of questions. Watching my rambunctious, fidgety son being forced to sit at a desk for long hours, became more and more difficult to stomach. For certain, there were days that I felt that he was learning valuable lessons, socially and academically, but overall it felt like he was losing an interest in learning, atleast in the traditional, non-conversational way. So finally this summer after discovering an affordable alternative school, and getting my mind around what our days at home would look like, we decided to give something new a try. Yes, I have people running up to me, saying, "So, I hear you're homeschooling!" And honestly, I cringe a little bit. I feel like a turn coat to my public school friends and an elitist to the millions of Americans who are reliant upon the public school system for a good education and child care. I have always been haunted by the concept a bit, and the scenario of, if I really, really, really, wanted to do what is best for my child, I could control every detail, every influence, by homeschooling. I hate lines drawn in the sand and the arrogance of labels.

But despite all my ridiculous social misgivings, Our first week was a piece of a dream. Granted I was bracing myself for Armageddon. I was not going to make the mistake of having unrealistic expectations again.  I forbid myself from imagining peaceful fireside discussions about the dreams of men and the Northwest Passage. I wanted to save my hopes for moments of being pleasantly surprised. And I was, pleasantly surprised. Myles was clearly relieved and upbeat about his new situation, and much more attentive to the dog, which I always take as a good sign.

However after a good run, the honeymoon ended this week. So now it is time to really hunker down and create these new days for us.  Lots of resistance, buckets full of, "I'm not doing that." But for every moment of, "No!", there were moments of cooperation and recognition of scalene triangles.

It is difficult to do this in a small town and not feel like there hasn't been a schism formed. We live in a neighborhood where everyone walks to school and we do not live on a farm with a sibling hiding in every cozy corner. We bring Fiona to her first grade class, where she gleefully skips through the door, and then the two of us turn around and make our way home again. It is lovely most days, but also eerily quiet on others.

But I am thankful for the return of my little buddy. I am thankful for our trips to the Asian food market where we come home with things we have never seen before, and ingredients to make dumplings. I am thankful for our history studies that taught us a tad bit more about John Smith, so that we happened upon the news yesterday at the library, that he is said to have come ashore in Cohasset, MA four hundred years ago this late summer. Tomorrow, this town next door will be staging a reenactment of Smith's landing. I am not sure we would have caught this opportunity had we not changed our path, and that feels slightly affirming to me.


Terri Evans said...

It is interesting how the perceived opinions of others can influence our happiness. Our urban elementary school had a hardy band of parents who were determined to turn the school around, and in many ways they did a masterful job. There were times that I felt guilty not being part of that every year I had children that age, but I knew my personality and values would not lend themselves to being at the school micromanaging every aspect of my kids' education. I started telling myself each child would be one year at a time in whatever system we chose. I'm sure I didn't think and pray through every year as I should have, but generally I think the system worked. I wasn't afraid of public school as I know you aren't; there were years when I just wanted something more suitable for my children. I am very grateful I could provide a homeschooling/hybrid schooling alternative. I hope you have many happy days filled with the wonder of learning together, and I wish you strength and a sense of humor for those days not so wonderful!

Emily said...

Thank you Terri! It is interesting, indeed. I wish I had blinders at times, and then not at others. Thank you so much for your insights. One week feels like 10 years! Deep breath.

cheryl said...

What a beautiful and thoughtful post... and what an amazing adventure you've chosen for you and your son! Parenting decisions aren't easy to begin with, and these very public decisions come with a whole range of additional insecurities and opinions—and not just your own—to pile onto it. I think you will handle it with your normal contemplative grace, and I for one, am very excited to see how things develop!