About five years ago we looked at our then-1 ½-year-old and realized our school days were numbered. Our little guy was growing up fast and before we knew it, the time would come for him to enroll in big-kid “real" school. At the time we lived in a great niche-neighborhood in Houston, which was fun, but the school rating wasn’t something we thought much about when we were house shopping. It’s hard to believe, but eight years ago we were two footloose and fancy-free young kids in love; starting a family wasn't on the agenda.
However, life happened, things changed, and we couldn’t help but think of the impending elementary school years ahead of us. After much deliberation, we decided the interest rates were right, so we put the house on the market, and after a LOT of work, we wiggled our way into a great school zone. Once we moved in, we breathed a sigh of relief and felt like we had it made through high school. All of our problems were solved … or so we thought.
Fast forwarding a few more years, our little guy is a kindergartener IN big-kid school, and … uh oh ... it wasn’t going particularly well. Could all of our immaculate planning, hard work, and best efforts really have been for nothing? He spends 30 hours a week there, and if he’s miserable then we’re terrible parents! What are we going to do?
I put a lot of stake in the importance of education largely because that’s how I was raised. Growing up in New Orleans, the public school system wasn’t an option for us, and my parents made great sacrifices for the sake of my brothers and my education.
Now a mom myself, I feel the weight of making these kinds of tough decisions, but all parents want to provide as best as they can for their kids. We all want to see our children thrive, and happy in school, right?
So, when my son began complaining about class, in hindsight, I may have gone into “freak out mode” a bit prematurely. Within the week I’d had a tremendous amount of conversation with teachers, counselors, friends, former teachers, my parents, our friends and even toured private schools (not that we could even afford it). I wanted all of the information, immediately.
I was very impressed with his teacher. She was very receptive to our conversation and reasonably asked to try a couple of different things that might help him feel more engaged over the next week. At the end of the week, we had a great 20-minute conversation.
She validated my concerns, and we seemed on the same page with a few minor things we could tweak for him. As I hung up the phone, again a wave of relief passed over me. We didn’t make all of the wrong decisions! We’re not terrible parents! We’re sort of doing pretty darn good right now!
In the end, I realized that our biggest problem might be that my sweet boy is in the middle of some life lessons. Gone are the days of pre-K when you start at 9 a.m., are home in time for your afternoon snack, and get to play all day. I learned that it isn’t so much an issue he has with the school itself, but rather the nature of the beast.
He’s growing up. He needs to sit still more, pay attention to a longer lesson, follow lots of directions … and that’s just the “school” part of school. There are also lots of tiny human social scenarios that he’s learning to navigate, and it’s a lot to take in when you’re only six years old … heck it’s a lot to take in even when you’re 34!
Jordan Schupbach is a mother of three living in the Houston area. She blogs at www.lattesandliving.com - sharing the good, the bad and the frenzied.