Family 2015

Family 2015

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gift of Education

So, I'm starting to fill out the reams of paperwork that I will have to fill out for 4 out of my 5 kids to start new schools in the fall.  Sure, it can get pretty monotonous to fill out the same info over and over and over again, (how many times do I need to write my address??) but mostly as I write, I'm just grateful.

The education system in America gets a bad rap, but my experiences with it thus far have been 95% positive.  I do not regret the homeschooling that I have done, and there could be another year or two of it for this child or that one in the future; but it is an amazing thing to be able to enroll my child in a school.  As a young homeschooling Mom, I was pretty sure that the public schools were on their way to becoming big brother, but I now I view them as a HUGE help to me in my job as the educator of my children.

Yes.  I am still the educator of my children and I recognize that the responsibility of their education falls on my shoulders.  Actually, that thought is part of what brought me to the place that I put my kids in school.  I did an assessment of what I was offering them at home and realized that in some ways, they were missing out. 

*Disclaimer*  I know many of you who read my blog are homeschoolers.  Please know that I completely respect and support your decision to homeschool and am sure that your kids are getting what they need.  That was not a statement about homeschool in general, it was a statement about me.

I am just not that Mom.  You know, the super creative one who has all kinds of great ideas about how to make learning fun.  I enjoy being with my kids, but the added responsibility of being the only one to make sure they are getting the 3 R's is a bit much for me.  I am all about helping with homework, as long as I'm not the one who assigned it in the first place.

Not to mention that schools teach so much more than the 3 R's these days.  As we were touring McKinley's new school yesterday, the principal took us into the media center and proceeded to explain that they broadcast  morning anouncements into each classroom  on a t.v. screen every morning.  The KIDS run the cameras, act as the anchors and broadcast the live anouncements.  I was astounded.  I can't wait for her to get to be a part of that.

As we did a visit of Carter's new class last week, we discovered that each year the kids in that particular class raise salmon.  They also care for a guinea pig and a garden.  They do math in such a way that each student works at their own level.  And they took in excess of 20 field trips last year - one of which had them spending the night in a tall ship.  My kid gets to do this?  For free?  Sign me up.

Then, there was the staggering list of offerings at the new middle and high school the older girls will be attending.  I was so excited about all the opportunites that it almost made me cry.  Education is a gift indeed.

So, I will fill out form after form after form after form...and I will be happy to do it.  :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pre-Emptive Heart Breaking..

I don't know what it is with me, but I have the tendency to do some seriously premature emotional preparation for things.  For instance, when Kennedy was about 10 weeks old, we attended a wedding.  During the Daddy/Daughter dance at the reception, I bawled my eyes thinking of her upcoming marriage - you know, in 25 years or so.  With that one, I could get away with calling it "post-partum", but that excuse isn't going to work for this one.

Over the last several months, as is customary for us and just about every other family on the planet, I have been getting ready for school in the fall.  Around about January the questions start.  "How has this year been?"  "How is everyone doing?"  "Is anyone going to need to be homeschooled next year?"  "Do we need to make any changes?"  And so on.  Now that it's May, we pretty much have next year mapped out, and so I am done with the research/planning part and ready to move on to the reality part.

Wait, you say.  It isn't even summer.  Why are you thinking about the fall??  *sigh*  I wish I knew.  It's just the way I roll.

Anyway, we were driving to school this morning - me and the 4 older kids - and everyone was rejoicing that we only have 19 days of school left!!!  Then, all of a sudden I felt like crying.  Because, in the fall, it will be me and all 5 kids driving to school in the morning.  My little red-head won't still be sleeping in his bed at home waiting to be awakened around 9:00, putz around the house, watch some shows, play with some toys, eat lunch and go to "school" for a half day at 11:30.

No, he will join the ranks of the others.  Backpack with a lunch box or lunch money ("how will I buy lunch, Mom?"  he wondered the other day.  "I don't have any money.")  Gym clothes and shoes.  School supplies.  Friends.  A little shredding of the apron strings.  Get me a kleenex.

Sure, all of my other kids have crossed this milestone already (although 3 of them didn't do it in Kindergarten...), but if you're a Mom, you already know that when the baby crosses it, it carries a little more weight in your heart.  (To my other kids who might be reading this, don't take that wrong, you all carry the same amount of weight in my heart - it's just a timing issue.)  :)

I suppose it could be the gift of God to me that I have this propensity.  You see, by the time September 4th actually rolls around, I will be ready.  I will have gone through all of my grieving and self-reflection. (Is this the right choice?  Can he really handle it?  Will Kindergarten turn him into an axe-murderer?)  I will then be ready to be be strong for him, and for the rest of my kids who all have big changes coming in the fall.  When they have a rough day, I'll be able to encourage them that it's just a bump in the road, that it happens to everyone, that they are up to the challenge, that they can do it.

I guess it's good.  But, today, it doesn't feel like it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sacred Cows and Why We Like Them.

I have a theory on why we, as people, hold so tightly to our sacred cows.  The flavor of cow doesn't matter so much as the reason we hang on so tightly; so I'm not going to address any specific cow, but just their existence in general.

I think that we go through a bunch of stages of growth, not only in our body, but also in our minds.  Ok, I know that we do.  What I think, is that I'm starting to see some patterns.  We start out knowing nothing and in our early years our opinions and attitudes are formed largely by those who take care of us.  We learn from them because they love us (hopefully) and we have no reason to not believe what they tell us.  They seem to have life all figured out and we assume they know all the answers.

It doesn't take long for this to start to change, although the change happens gradually.  First, it is the realization that we are our own person.  Second, the somewhat scary notion arises that perhaps, our caretakers don't have all the answers.  Third, we figure out they have none of the answers (know any teenagers?)  Then, we step out and begin to explore on our own.

I really think that the attitude with which this exploration is met is pivotal in our later handling of sacred cows.  If, for instance, you have an authority figure, parent, teacher, etc who encourages your personal discovery, you are less likely to have a strangle hold on said cow.  But, if you are made to feel ashamed or if your exploration is met with fea or anger by those guiding you, then the cows take on a life of their own.

Why?  Because we all want to be accepted.  If exploration of different ideas about things is reacted to in a very strong negative way, many people will back off and simply adopt the cows common to their culture for the sake of belonging.  Then, when another person tries to kick the cow down, or even just give it a good once over, the owner of the cow feels that their very security is being threatened. 

So, to state it simply, we protect those cows because we're afraid.  We're afraid that if they get knocked down, our whole identity and security goes down with them.

This is what I have discovered.  I am not one with my sacred cows.  I am a person in my own right and whether I cling to the cow or not, it does not define me.  I may have grown up feeling very strongly about something - because those guiding me held certain convictions - and come to find out that I actually feel exactly the opposite way about it.

This is ok.  It is not a slap in the face of those who raised me and nurtured me.  No, it is actually a testament to their bravery and lack of fear as they carried out that job.

Question away, Mihailoff kids, I'm not afraid of your questions.  Your place in my heart is quite secure whether you like my cows or not.  :)