A great deal of my mental space and energy these past few months has been devoted to choosing an education path for our children. Matteo will be turning 5 this summer and will be ready to enter Kindergarten in the Fall. This has been a difficult journey for me. I have loved the principles of Waldorf education for years, have embraced as much as I can here in our home, but the reality is that we simply cannot afford private education for 3 children. I am in awe of those of you who homeschool. I learn and am inspired so much by reading your blogs, but I know that at this point, I don't have the temperament, patience or talent to give my children what they need to learn the quantitative ways of the world. Eileen wrote so eloquently about her reasons to become "Waldorf Afterschoolers" (love that phrase!) and I believe that is the model our family will emulate.
So, I have spent the past few months touring our local schools. Where I live, public schools are assigned to families based on a lottery to make sure that there is socioeconomic diversity at all the schools. Each family can list it's school preferences in the application. What I found at our schools was amazing parental commitment at every school. I learned about the commitment our community has to the arts by providing each student music instruction (either flute or violin) in the 4th and 5th grades. I learned that every student is served a nutritional breakfast every morning at no cost. I learned that while public education was initially not my first choice, it's a choice that I can live -dare I say- happily with.
I chose a local school close to our neighborhood for it's small size and the comfort I felt by knowing many of the families from our small, wonderful preschool are there. I loved the intimacy of the school and the warmth of the teaching staff. My second choice was a magnet school, one of the largest schools in the city, highly regarded for it's integration of the arts into all aspects of education and the diversity of the school population.
We got our letter indicating our assignment, and of course... we got our second choice.
I felt panicky, I felt scared... what had I done by putting this as a preference??? The school is so big! We don't have any close friends there! The school is across town, I'll have to drive him to school, because God knows I will not let MY BABY get on a school bus! Yes, I freaked out. I felt so pushed out of my comfort zone.
And then I took a deep breath and realized it's not about me and the lost feeling of control. It's about my sons and the amazing opportunities they will have at this new school. Every morning they will leave our home, dressed warmly, lunches packed and every afternoon they will return to loving hugs and kisses and the comfort of what they have always known at our home. That is what I can control and I will trust that there are angels to watch over them while they are away from me.
The school assignment letter yesterday made it all so much more real that my first born, the one who made me a mother, is not a baby anymore. I watched Matteo and Nico running ahead of me to school this morning. They like to play a game where one will run ahead, stop turn around throw out his arms to welcome the other in a running embrace. It brought tears to my eyes. I felt that these simple days of walking to school together, showing unabashed affection for one another are coming to a close and it made my heart ache.
There is an exciting world awaiting not just Matteo, but our entire family. I will get involved with this big, breathtaking school that the universe has ultimately chosen for him. I will help his teachers clean paint brushes, join other parents to work in the garden, I will be part of my children's educational experience. I will know that this anxiety and fear is normal and part of MY journey of being a parent.
Most importantly, I will remember that this about my boys and their wonderful journey together into this world we live in.