Sunday, August 09, 2015

The first day of (home)school

There are seasons in life when everything is challenging, seasons when it all flows smoothly and easily, and seasons when we are stuck in ruts.  Lately, it has seemed like a season of having the rug pulled out from under me and forging a new way of living.

The details of a few of these metaphoric rugs are either too boring or too personal to share in a public forum (or are still in flux - God help us all), but the latest rug-yanking incident was a doozy.  

The school year begins quite early in the South, and last week, on the day before our county's public school year began, I received notice that my children's beloved cottage homeschool academy was permanently shutting its doors.

There I was, blissfully going about my day, thinking that we had three weeks before the cottage school year began, and believing I had another easy year ahead of me in which lesson plans would be emailed, science experiments would be done in class, math lessons would be taught by an actual teacher (read: not me), and two days a week in which to focus on my work while the children were on campus.

A single expletive received by text from my girlfriend, also a parent at the cottage school, shattered that illusion and I sat at the breakfast table crying angry, frustrated tears while I read the email from the headmaster.  And then I felt all the feelings.  Was this a neon sign?  Should I rush down to the public school and enroll the children immediately?  Could I even pull that together in time for them to begin public school the very next day?  Could I prepare the kids for that kind of major life change with less than 24 hours notice?

The answer was no, of course. Anytime I find my hand being forced to make a major decision without enough time to think it through in true introverted/introspective fashion, I know the answer is to wait until an answer comes in its own time.  Big life decisions require time, preparation, prayer, research, and wise counsel (and occasionally a nervous breakdown, but that's for another post).  It is likely that The Boy Wonder and Princess Hazelnut will attend regular school at some point, and we discuss the possibility every Spring, but when that day comes, we intend to have plenty of time for the children to get used to the idea first.

So I did what I always do when confronted by something that rocks my well-ordered world: I had a panic attack.  Seriously.  I had trouble breathing, and thought I was going to pass out.

Then I called in my troops.  My BFF was already coming up with a list of alternatives for our children.  My husband talked me down from the ledge.  My mother prayed.  I made a cup of tea, put a little kava kava tincture under my tongue, and threw myself into my work, knowing the best course of action was to keep on keeping on until the initial panic passed.  I kept a notepad next to me, and jotted down ideas as the day went on.

By nightfall we had a brand new, less expensive, extraordinarily cool educational plan in place. 

This year will require some adjustments and some juggling, and a whole slew of new experiences for both the children and for myself.  It is exciting and scary and more than a little unsettling for the parent who likes to know what to expect each day, but if I've learned anything in this season of unsteady rugs being yanked out out from under my comfortable and predictable life, it's that our comfortable and predictable life wasn't serving us well and it was time for a new direction.  Complacency brings boredom and restlessness, not excellence and happiness.

The very next morning, in the middle of the work week, we declared a holiday in order to celebrate the first day of our family's school year.  The four of us slept late, went to Waffle House for breakfast (always an education in itself), and then gleefully kayaked six miles down the river, and it was glorious.  It was invigorating and unusual and outside of our normal routine.

It was perfect.

Here's to new beginnings, and a new way of approaching our foundational family priorities.


Lee said...

I can't wait to hear what your new school year will look like!

Sarah Beam said...

Right now, it's looking good, Lee, but it's still the beginning. We shall see...