I feel strongly about raising my children to be independent thinkers. I also believe that sending them off to school is the best way (for us) to do that. I don’t need to get into a big public school/home school debate, but I’ll admit–homeschooling is very tempting. I LOVE having my kids around, I’m sad to have them away from me, after having them around so much over the summer. But I also know that I can’t provide for them at home what I want for them fully in life. Do I want to protect them from all of the evils of the world? Absolutely! Do I think I can best do that by keeping them at my side at all times? No way. Here is a snapshot of our first day of school picture on the front door. If you haven’t already read my “what I believe” post over on my sidebar, we are quite religious people. We have gospel discussions in our home on a regular basis. We have daily prayer and scripture study as a family, and encourage our children to do the same on their own. I hear people who don’t know about my faith in the news say that we strive to brainwash our children, but really…I want my children to know the difference about how we live, and how some others may live, and to choose on their own to believe what we try to teach. I want to teach them to live IN the world, but not necessarily OF the world. The world is a crazy, scary place. I feel the best way to teach that is to arm them with love and tools and little by little…choose the right path on their own.
When my oldest started kindergarten, I was afraid of what the kids with older siblings would be spreading to him…I was sure he’d be informed on his first day about how babies were made, and where to find the nearest weed. What was I thinking? I loved him too much to send him away…how could I do this to him…and to myself? But I had faith in the process, and always told myself that I could easily pull him out and home school him if I ever wanted to. But it was wonderful, it was amazing…elementary school is a happy place…rainbows and unicorns seemed to pop out in every direction…his teachers were kind…and loving…and welcomed me and my 2 small children (at the time). I got involved, memorized all of the kids names in his class that first week of school. And I felt that feeling of comfort…of peace…that this was the right thing to do for our family. I hated that everything changed. My second son lost his playmate, his best friend, and I mourned the way things used to be. But then I delighted in watching my #2 start to play with his little sister and become buddies with her…and that melted my heart in a whole new way. It became apparent to me that this is what I wanted for my children, as much as it pained me, it wasn’t about me…it was about them. I made decisions that I was going to tell my kids about “all those things” that I didn’t want them to hear from others. I wanted them to hear it all from me first, not from the kids on the playground with older siblings (now I have a daughter with older brothers that I’m sure some of her friends parents don’t love).
So once again, we make the trek to school. Last year I walked 3 to school, now we just walk two. Looking at this picture below, I feel a bit broken all over again. My kids are now split up at 2 different schools. I dropped the littles off at the rainbow land of elementary school, then drove my 6th grader off to the scariest place on earth–middle school.
But guess what? As nerve wracked as I am about middle school–when I toured there last week (and last May), and walked to all of the classrooms with my son, I felt that peace all over again that I so desperately needed. This, too, will be ok. It is an amazing school, I felt peace when hearing the assistant principal reassure all of us parents that we can come on campus whenever (have to hold myself back from that for my sons sake), they have video surveillance cameras (yes, a spoiled fact), an anonymous hot line for kids to report anything suspicious, and so many other things that made me feel ok about all of this. I’ve talked with my son about the “craziness” in the world, and what to expect from the halls of middle school, or the locker room. He knows what is inappropriate, and though I don’t hope that he’ll run into it, I know he will, and I hope we have taught him well enough that he will CHOOSE to shy away from it, and then be stronger than he was before. I have faith that he will…because I remember being there. I was taught, tempted, and chose the path that I am on now. And if not, I have faith in the process of “coming back” after making mistakes.
My 4th grader went up the stairs to his class, and I walked my 2nd grader into hers. She sits right by a classmate from last year, and neighbor.
They were fine, and happily waved goodbye to me. I’m grateful I’ve never had a child cry and beg me not to leave them, because I don’t know if I’d be strong enough…
I drove my middle schooler, gave him a big pep talk, had him write a “cheat sheet” of his schedule to put in his pocket, encourage him to smile at others in the hall (he tends to keep to himself), and he was off. All day, I wondered and fretted.
I was home with my youngest by 8:30 and just stared at her as she ate her breakfast. Once again, just the two of us. In two years, I’ll be all alone.
Now I’m not going to lie and say that the quiet was kinda nice and mellow, I don’t have much opposition from my littlest about the schedule of our day. I do look forward to getting organized, grocery shopping easier, etc. It is more relaxing, but I’ve got just 2 more years of my baby at home, and I want to make the best of it.
Luckily, we had a lunch with friends planned. We call it tears & cheers. Some are tearing, some are cheering. There was a handful of them there, and we all told stories of our first day. One friend dropped off her oldest to kindergarten with tears in both of their eyes, but as I told her before this day, you just gotta rip the band aid off. I cried a little for her. I remember all too well that day. Then I had a friend tell how she dropped off her youngest to kindergarten and went home and wept…and I cried a little for her too…because that day will come all too soon for me.
I’ll admit, it was fun to chat with my friends with only one little helper…but she played with her friend. I won’t lie and say I also don’t enjoy the slower pace, more quiet, more time while the kids are playing at school, and I don’t mope around waiting for them…I just miss them. It was fun to see my daughter running to me with arms outstretched that let me know she had a great day.
My son also had a great day in 4th grade…
…and when my 6th grader walked out with a big smile, I felt so so happy (the half smile on his face below is nothing to the smile I saw…but it is etched in my mind).
So once again, I tell myself…it’s going to be ok. This is what I feel in my heart is best for them (though I know others don’t agree, this is not a bashing home school post, just how I feel… I won’t say I’d never do it if I felt it was right for us), and I must do my part at home to fill them with love and goodness, so they will be armed with confidence and make choices, hopefully in the right direction. Though my husband often jokingly says I need to loosen the apron strings, I can’t help but fully invest my heart into my children. As my favorite mommy blogger, Shawni says on her blog, 71toes, this is the life I chose, to be their mother–whole heartedly. Especially love THIS post of hers.
Lastly, here are a few pics of my daughter who indulges me in all of the poses and handful of pictures I like to take.