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Archive for March, 2010

Keeping Up

I have been so busy lately helping get the house ready for market (more on that later…) and keeping up with spring chores, I have little to offer in this post, save a few photos.

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Our family has been presented with a challenge that I’m still coming to terms with: a school strike.  Em, who is enrolled in our neighborhood public school pre-K program, has suddenly decided that she’s not going back.  We are on Day 7 of this.  I know that I have mentioned before that I would love to homeschool the girls, but a change in this way is not what I expected.  To be sure, I’m not planning on formally homeschooling either of them until they are well into their 6th year or so.  Waldorf principles say that no formal learning should take place before the change of the teeth, and I tend to agree.  However, this change of heart came out of left field and threw my partner and me for a loop.

Em LOVES school.  Can I emphasize that any more?  LOVES IT.  She started attending a hobby-farm day care at age 2 for two days a week and continued that through 4 1/2.  Then, she started public school pre-kindergarden.  Finally, she had somewhere to go full-time where the activities were engaging, entertaining and plentiful–including at least 90 minutes of physical activity–half of which was outside year-round.  She came home with art projects, stories about her friends and teachers…and excitement.  She was truly excited about school.  Thus my reluctance to homeschool her.  Then, last week, she changed.

When my partner dropped her off at school, she bawled.  I mean total meltdown.  She made it through the day after recovering, but the next day did the same thing.  Only this time came home instead of staying.  Didn’t even try to go in on Thursday and not a day since then.  Today, it has been 7 days since she’s been at school.  We’ve processed and we’ve left it alone.  My biggest fear is that there is something going on with her which she’s unwilling to share or ask for help with, for whatever reason.  This is a difficult excercise in trusting her, knowing when to push and when to let it be and letting go for me.  Sure, we could force her to go, giving her no choice and she’d probably rise to the occasion.  However, we are privileged enough to not need to arrange for alternative care since I’m home with her younger sister.  But, trusting myself and my partner as good parents–enough to know when to stop pushing and leave her to make the decision is hard.  Today, she decided that the conversation was over.  Unless I was willing to escort her to school and stay there with her, she would not attend.  She will not miss her friends, the teachers, the playground, mama-free time or anything else I could come up with to check in about.  She is done.  And so, we move on.  I’m confident that we have communicated to her that she can tell or ask us anything, anytime.  We’ve told her she should feel enough power to say anything to anyone about how she feels or ask for an apology.

So, I’m in creative mode, creating a daily rhythmic schedule that will clearly communicate when certain things are done, but with flexibility to choose certain activities every day.  I’m terrified that I will lose what precious little quiet time I have when her sister is napping, and the potential for any days off in the future is diminished remarkably.  However, I’ve told her how excited I am to have extra time with her, and that we’ll do our best to make everyday the best one we can have.  And, our schedule has opened up for playdates, day trips and much more together time.  Which, is apparently just the right medicine right now.

(UPDATE: March 28, 2010)  After soliciting some feedback from friends and family, and listening to my heart, I became more convinced that it was important to help Em work through this whatever-it-is situation and teach her how she can be strong and face challenges, particularly to salvage something she loves so much.  So, with  gentle inquiry and helping her to create her own plan, she agreed to try school again.  The first day was a complete success, and she’s been back in school now for 2 weeks or so with no problems.  Once in a while she has some residual nervousness, but she’s a strong girl and has overcome her fears and anxiety to really get back into being with her teachers and friends and enjoy her time away from home.  I feel that, in encouraging her to go back and involving her totally in the process, she has learned valuable lessons about herself and her own strength.  And, so have I.  Blessings for the learning process that mamahood is.

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