My advice for what it’s worth: I don’t recommend looking at middle and high schools while listening to Ben Howard on iTunes radio. It’s like the sad, bawling scenes from a movie when a mother rewinds her child’s life in her mind, resurfacing memories of her as a baby, now growing closer to being a teenager. It makes matters even worse when you consider the fact that your youngest child is going into kindergarten. With that said, I see the silver lining in this being that we have SO many memories. It’s only been 11 years and there is SO much there already. So much goodness. So much time.
We have had such a wonky experience over the years, but they are ours and they are lovely. I wouldn’t change a thing, especially if it would alter the outcome which has resulted in really authentic, good-hearted, and smart kids. I’m almost embarrassed when I tell people how much we have bounced around, doing whatever works best when need be, but simply because our experience veers so much from the well-beaten path. Nevertheless, we remained vigilant that we were doing what was best, and looking back, we did just that.
Tomorrow my oldest child turns 11-years-old. Since her birth we have lived in three cities, two states, and she has attended three different schools, including a mix of homeschooling in between. I suppose to be fair I should mention that we haven’t moved since she started kindergarten. We just chose the wrong neighborhood, the wrong school district, and if I could recall the number of times I have cried about those unfortunate choices I would be here typing all day. The more time has pressed on, bringing us to now – a time when we have to consider consistency in a school community and when lessons that will benefit her throughout her academic career are possibly better taught outside of our home by qualified teachers in a strong school – I don’t regret the unfortunate location of our home in the slightest simply because it has given us the gift of time, awareness, and connection. It has grown us into a close-knit family. It has allowed us to learn lessons beyond the books and has given us connections beyond the norm in regard to typical American families and lifestyles. Sure, our experience is a little weird compared to most, but it is ours. It’s been an awesome ride so far.
There are some bright things to consider with my youngest going to kindergarten. From her 5-year-old perspective, she is really looking forward to it, and she will love it. She talks about “going to kindergarten” a lot. I have to remind her that sweet Ms. Rosi, her preschool teacher, won’t be her teacher in kindergarten. She will have to move to another school – a school for big kids. She gets a puzzled look on her face. She isn’t ready to imagine that just yet. We usually end the conversation there.
And then there is Anne – sweet Anne – the forgotten middle child in the middle of the middle of things. Going into the 4th grade next year isn’t anything particularly monumental. We don’t create mountains out of molehills, so I know I might seem like an unloving mother; however, I can’t quite explain the excitement this particular child feels when she accomplishes something new and something she can claim as her very own. Being in the middle gives her a little extra insight, a little something special. In two years we will make a great big deal out of her moving onto new things. For now, we will remind her that she is extra special because Jane is a big sister, Molly is a little sister, but she is a big and a little sister. Being in the middle has its perks.
These have been some crazy years. Honestly, my kids aren’t the best. I admire kids who sit perfectly still in Mass, kids who behave in the grocery store, and kids who are quiet in restaurants. My kids are loud and busy. They are always in the middle of every single conversation. They are curious. Interested. Alive. They drive me nuts 99% of the time, but they are such cool little individuals.
OK…now to change the channel on iTunes Radio. Maybe I should play the Beastie Boys and angrily clean the house. After all, we have taken PTO from schoolwork today to clean the house. It is THAT bad around here, and it is incredibly common for PTO cleaning days to exist when you homeschool your children under your roof during the winter months. Things get REALLY, really unorganized and messy very quickly. The piles of paper cutouts, rough drafts, and laundry are threatening to suffocate us all. Onward to tackle those things.
Oh, and finally…this kid: She turns 11 tomorrow!
It happens quickly. Embrace it. It’s the only time you will have with them while they are little. Know who they are. Cherish them. Don’t look back and regret not taking advantage of the time.