Thursday, August 16, 2012
Today I dropped my kids off at their high school. I drove away…crying. I called my wife to talk me through my drive home. Why was I crying you might ask? It’s a transition period for us all – and none of us transitions well, especially me.
For as long as my kids have been alive I have been a die-hard homeschooler. We have unschooled, on-site charter-schooled, at home charter schooled, then back to on-site charter school. It’s all been relatively well controlled – safe spaces for my kids, good education, and if the education or safe space disappeared (which it had in the case of one charter school) we immediately made adjustments that worked for us.
This year however my youngest decided he wanted to try a particular public High School – which shocked me. But there were some issues with their peer group at the charter school they were attending (though the education and teachers were awesome) and he had some friends from his fencing club who would be attending this particular high school. So – we took the steps necessary to make that happen. As it happened this high school is really good. There were opportunities offered there that convinced my middle son to also go ahead and transfer over for his final year of high school. Suddenly our homeschooling days were over.
Now, it‘s not like my kids can’t handle this, with some grumbling of getting adjusted to a new routine. Rather than going to school 2 days a week (like college classes) they will go 5. That is a big adjustment for them – and me. And it’s not like they can’t handle meeting new people – they are very good at that with all their homeschooling and lack of specific age group segregation, they are very adept at meeting and conversing with people of all ages – from infant to the elderly. And this school has a very diverse population which I think will be a refreshing change for them. And it’s not like they can’t handle getting up early for school, and doing their homework in the evenings. No, I think the kids will be just fine actually. Give them a couple weeks to really adjust to the new and different routine and they will be just fine. The one I am worried about is me.
You see, I never wanted my kids in the public school system. It scares me. There are gangs, and drugs, and shootings, and the education is seriously lacking in many schools in our area. Teachers are overworked and underpaid and not allowed to actually TEACH. They spend more time being disciplinarians than educators. Having many friends who are teachers shows me that while there is some good, there is a lot that needs fixing. Our school system sucks. Luckily for us, the school my youngest decided he wanted to go to happens to be one of the best in the area.
But…it’s still a P.U.B.L.I.C. school.
Homeschooling allowed me to give my kids the time to be kids…to not grow up too fast, to play and enjoy learning as much as possible. It allowed me to ensure that they were maturing at their rate and not because of negative life experiences (of which they did have several – divorce is never fun) that often cause kids to grow up too fast. And in talking with my wife (ok, crying on the phone while she talked) she reminded me that I gave them that. And now at 15 and almost 18 they are actually quite ready to do more growing and maturing into the young men they have already become. Apparently I did ok with these guys. (not to ignore the contributions of their father by any means, he was a part of that process also - but this blog is about me...) It was sometimes a battle to make sure that their educational and emotional needs were being met in a manner that meshed well, but I fought hard for my kids and made decisions for them that I think turned out OK. As they got older they were welcomed into the discussion of their education, what they wanted, how they wanted it and where they got it. And I think they made some good decisions as well. My kids had the time to learn how to make decisions that deeply affected their lives and understand the ramifications both positive and not so positive.
The process to transition from homeschool to public was nearly seamless. Every time and obstacle popped up it was immediately erased as if by magic. There were two pretty big obstacles. We had to find a home in the district, in our price range and that met our requirements. That was not easy at all – until at the last possible week to find a new home, I stumbled across this house in a nice neighborhood. Turns out they had just lowered the rent and there were 20+ applications in for it (most of them sight unseen – did I mention it’s a nice neighborhood?). We (my 17 yr old and I) met with the property manager to look at the house (LOVED IT!) and he apparently fell in love with us. I had laryngitis (which he thought was adorable) and he had 15 grandkids and just loved my kid. He told the owner of the house that WE would be renting because WE were the right family for this place. Wow. So we have our new home within the district. However, the day we enrolled the kids into their new high school we discovered (to our horror!) that the boundaries had just been changed and our new home was NO longer in the district and they’d have to go to a school there was no way in hell I’d let them attend. However, the superintendent just happened to be signing intra-district transfers that day ONLY and 15 minutes later we were set. What a stroke of luck! It’s been truly nearly seamless – which tells me it was the right decision.
So why am I crying? Because my boys are in a public school, they are growing up, I won’t have them home with me all day a few days a week as I am used to and I HATE change and transitions. And while I know this is all a good thing because I have no negative feelings about this particular transition at all, it is still difficult. This means my kids are not babies anymore. They still need me, but not like before. They are capable young men who can take care of their business on their own (for the most part) and they know I am here if they need me.
But…I think all of this is much harder on me than on them. They are supposed to be growing up…not me. I’m already grown up. Aren’t I? And as my wife pointed out to me through my tears this morning, we will go through this transition and growing period as we have all the others…kicking and screaming one moment and laughing through it the next. And we will make it through to the other side just as strong as we always have. Yes, there will be some bumps in the road – but that is life. And while transitions can be difficult…they are doable.
Transitions…growing up isn’t just for kids…It's for the whole family...