Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boldy going...where millions of American children go every day

So as you know, Ren and I have been cutting things to the bone lately. Thusly, we have made another major decision.

Isabel, our 5 year old, is about to graduate from Pre-K. She attends a fantastic little private Christian school in the area, with which we have been exceedingly pleased. We enrolled her there for several reasons, namely because: 1.)It's a Christian school. We're Christians, so logically, we've decided to raise our children as such. Crazy, I know. But that's just the way we roll; 2.)It's only half day--3 hours--as opposed to the 6 & 1/2 hour day in public Pre-K. We just weren't ready to subject our then 4-year old to that many hours of school per day, especially with it being her first year, coupled with the fact that she has the rest of her next 15 or more years to live out in some type of school system; 3.)We loved the smaller classes, the teachers, the brand new facility...*sigh*. I could keep going. Needless to say, we've been very satisfied with our experience, and, more importantly, so has she.

However, she's about to graduate, and next fall she'll be moving on up into Kindergarten (or the "Academy" as they call it). Our options at this point are: 1.)Keep sending her to the private school; 2.)Homeschool; or 3.)The dreaded...Dare I say it?...Public School. *gasp!*

I'll address the first option...well, first. Honestly, we love her school. I think I've made that quite clear. But here's one small problem: It's not free. It actually costs us money. That's the crazy thing about private school. And next year her tuition would be almost double what we're paying for her current year. It's been a little bit of a stretch for us to send her this past year, but with me working part time for our church, we've been able to manage it. But see, here comes the tricky part--we're simultaneously trying to get out of debt, sell a house, and I'm getting ready to quit my job and have our fourth baby! So, we either go into even more massive amounts of debt (which we already have, thank you very much), or sell one of the other children to fund our oldest daughter's first year of school, or look at our other options. Let's move on, shall we?

I'll address Homeschooling next. Honestly, I love the idea of home school. I think it's an admirable, noble, amazing, and wonderful thing to do. For anyone else on the planet ***EXCEPT ME***. Honestly, I know what I can and cannot do. I have come to know myself pretty well, and I know the way I'm wired. Actually, the thought of homeschooling right now, with this many small children, while getting ready to have another, makes me break out into a cold sweat and want to pass out. I know a LOT of moms that home school. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that we rename the current area in which we live from the Bible Belt to the Homeschool Belt. I feel like I am in the minority at times. I'm not one of those parents that cried on my daughter's first day of Pre-K. On the contrary, I barely stopped the mini-van in the carpool line just long enough for her to safely get out, before spinning the tires, and racing off to enjoy my few, short, precious hours. Heh heh. I'm a good mom.

I've seen and/or heard some of the nitty, gritty details. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And several parents I've talked to do NOT recommend homeschooling your first child, their first year, with a brand new baby. Who knows? Once they get a little bit older, like maybe when they can all read, write, and wipe themselves, I may change my tune. Until then, we're pretty much decided. I have spent a lot of time considering this option (like the last 5 years or so), and I've spent many hours in prayer about it. I've heard the pitches. I've had other moms try to convert and/or "encourage" me into doing it . But just trust me on this one. I don't think that Homeschooling is for everyone. And with that being said, I KNOW, it ain't me, babe. Not now. No way. No how.

Which leaves us at our third and final option, Public School. Now, 5 years ago, Ren and I would have laughed hysterically, and then proceeded to systematically bludgeon the offender, had anyone ever even suggested that we throw our precious first-born into the lion's den of iniquity that is Public School. But, life (and God) has a way of taking you from all your unrealistically high standards, knocking you down a level or two, to bring your feet back to Planet Earth. Therefore, and by now you've probably guessed it, Ren and I have decided that we will be sending Isabel to public school for Kindergarten. Now, I'll spare you all the minute details about how we've come to such a brave conclusion. But I will say that I really think the Lord Himself gave us both some sort of paradigm shift on the whole thing. The fact that we're in agreement on it is huge. And ever since we've made the decision, I've just been getting nothing but God's peace and encouragement every step of the way. I keep hearing other parents in the community saying things like, "Oh, that's one of the best schools in the county," and "If I had my choice, that's where I'd be sending my kid." And even crazier is the fact that we can see the school from our neighborhood.

The main thing we keep telling ourselves is--It's Kindergarten, for crying out loud. How wild and crazy can it possibly be?

What we've learned through all of this is that there's no perfect solution. We're just parents who deeply love our kids, and want to do what's best. Aren't we all? Obviously, there are pros and cons to all of these scenarios. We'll definitely have to reevaluate our decision at the end of Isabel's first year in public school. At that time we'll have to take a really hard look at her drinking habits, number of piercings, various tattoo locations...oh, AND examine what and how much she's actually learning and move on from there.

Pray for us as we embark on this brave new journey.