Please don't judge me, I let my daughter go to school
As parents we are constantly being judged. Judged by our kids, by our parents, by our partners, by other kids parents, by random strangers in the grocery store line up and mostly by ourselves. In a world of parenting books, parenting blogs, and parenting experts we are all trying to give the best, be the best and do the best for our children, but what if we aren't sure what the best is? That's where I am right now but it wasn't always that way....
I had it all figured out, really I did! Natural childbirth, attachment parenting cloth diapers, co sleeping, babywearing and breast feeding till the ripe old age of 4 ( years not months) I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. My children were never left with a baby sitter expect family. I did my best to love and nurture, to respect and care.
Life was good and I was proud of myself. When Clare was 3, I was introduced to the idea of home educating, it was just what I was waiting for! I had already taught her everything she knew, so why shouldn't I continue teaching her? Of course I could! So we ordered a pricey curriculum and signed up for classes at the Art gallery, a dance class and swimming and got started when Clare turned 4. She loved it, I loved it, and all was right with the world. My daughter is a bright, funny, happy, fun loving and independent little girl.
She also has a mind of her own.....Grade 1 and things were going great until, one day, out of the blue Clare comes to me and says " Mom I want to go to school". I remember looking at her blankly, no words would come, my mind was racing. I thought you were happy, I thought this was working, why would anyone want to get up early, go to school with a bunch of strangers, sit in a desk, deal with the kids, do home work? I just smiled at her and shook my head yes.
Let's back up a decade or two...
It was grade 6. Lunch time on the playground. The feeling of fall was in the air, cool and crisp. I watched a group of girls talking, laughing, giggling, arms linked as they walked. They were in my class, I knew them and they knew me. We had been in the same class since primary, but we weren't friends. They were cool....me , not so much. I got up the courage to approach them, slowly walking in their direction, telling myself that they would let me join in. Why wouldn't they? But you know what? They didn't. When I finally walked close enough to be heard I said "Hi". And one of them turned, looked me in the eye, smiled and said "bye!" I froze, did I hear her right? Did she say hi or bye? Why would someone say bye? Unless, yes that's it, I was not welcome, my heart sank. I remember that day like it was yesterday and I'm now 32 years old. The strangest part is that it hurts as much now as it did then. So it brings me back to the question, why would anyone want to go to school?
But Clare is different than I was, she is confident and social and loves other people. She will chat it up with just about anyone. This summer she befriended a 75 year old lady in the swimming pool in Quebec. They swam together for an hour, laughing and chatting. Clare asked for her room number and address before we left.
I made the call to the principal of the school around the corner and he agreed that Clare could attend Phys Ed class. That's all I will was willing to give, 1 hour twice a week. I told myself that she wouldn't like it, I might have even prayed that she wouldn't like it.
Day one, she had new sneakers, we were on time, her hair was done, we sat waiting on the bench for the class to arrive. I said "hello" to the teacher, Clare said "hi" to the class and then she was gone. No hug, no "I love you mom", no "can you come in and stay with me mom?". Nothing just a wave, a smile and a bye.
Week two and she begs, please can I go upstairs and do math with my friends? Math? Ok I can understand gym class but math? No I said, quickly stuffing her sneakers in the bag and taking her by the hand. We are going to go home and put on our Pjs and make cookies I said smiling at her. She didn't look as impressed as I was with my idea. Six weeks before school was out for the summer I let her go, full time, all day.
It killed me but once again I was sure she wouldn't like it. Surely all day would be too long, surely she wouldn't find it fun. I give it a week I told Drew, one week. He just smiled at me knowing his daughter well. Clare finished out the year, all A's and B's. We enjoyed the summer and I put school out of my mind. Two weeks before school went in Clare started asking when she was going back to school. My heart felt like it was honestly breaking. It wasn't what I wanted, it wasn't what I planned. But it was what she wanted....
Today was her first day of grade 2. She sprung out of bed and threw on her clothes. Grabbed her backpack stuffed with duo tangs, colored pencils and glue sticks and hurried the rest of us out the door. Shes there right now, in a room of 20 kids and a teacher I don't know. Someone else molding and shaping her, teaching her and caring for her.
Isn't that my job?
Yes it is, but I'm learning to share my precious baby girl, I'm learning to respect her decisions and trust her choices even at 7 years old and I'm secretly praying that she will change her mind. So to all you moms and dads out there who have it all figured out, please don't judge me, I'm just a mom trying to do her best and right now that means letting my daughter go to school.