We decided to ride a roller coaster, knowing it would be fast and possibly dangerous. We almost fell out on some of the loops and got jolted on the corners. It seemed like it would never end, but finally we cruised into the exit tunnel. We limped away, but can now look up at the ride and say we survived. Most families have no choice but to ride this roller coaster every day. For some it's a nightmare, for others it's comfortable, thrilling, even fun. I'm just glad we are free to choose a different ride!
I know I haven't written enough about what's been happening here lately ... it's been too crazy to put in words. I'll try and bring you up to speed.
Late last year Jasmine started wishing fervently to try school, and after prayer and thought over the break, we decided to give it a go. We enrolled her at the Public School near our place, where we knew nobody but had heard only good reports. Despite it being her own wish to go, it's been tough for Jasmine, and she's made that very clear with tantrums and daily changes of heart. In just 7 days she was late 3 times and totally missed 1 day because she carried on for so long that I wouldn't let her go (and wasn't fit to take her anyway after weathering the storm). Twice her teachers had to take a kicking and screaming child from my arms, and I had to leave and hide around a corner until I knew she'd settled. Things improved when Jasmine said she wanted me to drop her off and sneak away (previously hard to do, with her climbing me like a tree). I spent some days happily teaching Elijah, and a few crying and sick with the stress of the morning.
Our hearts broke as we pick up the pieces each afternoon. Jasi said the best thing was the work (basic phonics she already knows, and lots of colouring in). On day two, she started sadly confessing that her new friend had decided to not be her friend anymore, and was telling other kids to leave her out as well. The teacher said she'd help Jasi make new friends, but observed that she doesn't initiate friendship or follow when the group moves on.
Even so, she's done so much more than we knew she could. Simple things like asking for an iceblock at the canteen, chatting with the teacher for a literacy assessment. She was disappointed that they didn't do maths (though maybe they did, but it wasn't what Jasi expected). We're proud of her courage in just giving it a go.
But we decided enough was enough ... I couldn't handle the tension and trauma, and didn't see that any good could come of continuing. Jasi wanted to finish this week, but it was sealed for me when the teacher lectured me yesterday for bringing Jasmine late, saying it wasn't good enough and we'd have to get our act together and stop messing around (basically). She repeated this when Mum picked up Jasmine in the afternoon (I was too sick with anxiety to go in) ... thankfully I'd typed a letter for Mum to deliver, saying thanks and sorry to the teacher, and informing her that we'd be notifying the Principal of our intention to resume home education today.
I was keen to exit gracefully, and hope the carefully written letters to the teacher and Principal will allow us all to end on a positive note. Now we can get on with our lives without school, and I can salvage what's left of my dignity.
I am SOOOO relieved. Jasmine is too. She cried for half an hour yesterday when I told her she wouldn't be going back to school, then bounced back to being a free and happy girl again, grinning and excited about what we'll be doing together. It is the same relief she expressed when we told her she could leave her stifling and boring ballet class a year ago.
Why did we let our 5 year old daughter enrol in Kindergarten at the local Public School?
Because we thought it was harmless to let her try Kindergarten. Because I thought 5 year olds would be kinder and easier to befriend than older children in years to come. Because we could always return to homeschooling, anytime we wanted, and just treat this as an innocent experiment.
Why are we letting her, after 7 days, return to home schooling?
Because we can. Because I love my daughter and her turmoil each day tortured me, to the point where I felt physical pain. Because teachers shouldn't belittle parents in front of the class, nor loudly and condescendingly lecture an already frightened child. Because we believe home ed. suits our children and love tailoring each day to them. Because home schooling allows us to raise our children the way we believe God wants us to. Because of the scratchy uniform and the unkindness of mean girls. Because I don't believe in school enough to force her to go again and again when she's determined not to anymore. Because we have little trust in the staff, after one week and four different teachers already. Because we ALL need to have some stability and continuity. Because we want to get on with real life and learning, not playing the school game.
Was it worth it?
I felt like an incompetent Mum, an unprofessional teacher, inconsistent and too easily influenced by my daughter's fluctuating moods, wishes, strength and vulnerability. We didn't last the term, as we'd planned to. I got in trouble ... I've always hated confrontation and conflict. The teacher spoke down to my daughter. She won't have the chance to do that again.
BUT on the bright side, Jasmine's curiosity has been satisfied. She is now keen to have a wonderful year of home ed., instead of feeling deprived and controlled. We respected her wish to explore. We had an intense two weeks, difficult in many ways, but have emerged with our love and respect for each other intact and strengthened. I have learned more about Jasmine's character, learning style and inner strength, and can use this to be a better parent and teacher for her.
Onwards and upwards! We have had a lot of fun today, together, and the future looks bright. It'll probably be easier to write about too!!