The Cherubs started school today.
As my Southern friends would say, THANK THE SWEET LORD BABY JESUS.
I’m not sure how it is for other families, but our little blossoms need structure to bloom. And while I’m acing the whole love/feed/clothe them aspect of parenting, the creation of structure is not my strength. So I’m happily availing myself of my tax investment and letting the education experts do their thing. (Go education experts!!!)
Confession: I’ve been surprised by how much work is created for parents when you enroll 2 Cherubs in school. When did it get like this? First came the school supply lists. The 8th grade one had 5 columns and a separate page for foreign languages. The 5th grade one recommended 2 binders, but no paper. It was like being handed a puzzle with no decoder ring.
Then came the shopping trip that resulted in our dining room look like we were hosting a writing conference for a dozen people. America, if our kids need this much stuff to learn, we’re doing it wrong:
Then came the emails from the school.
There’s a web portal I had to sign up for but I’m not sure why. There’s account for lunch and club fees I haven’t activated it yet because I can’t figure out if there’s a way to control how that money is spent. (All it says is that I can check the balance and they’ll let me know when I need to re-up.) There was also a notice that the free bus passes are available for pickup at school…but that I’d need to load money on those, too. I decided it’s just easier to pack lunches, drive the kids there, and pray it all works out.
I was holding strong until the most recent emails. There were two of them, each of which had 70+ pages of attachments I was supposed to go over with each Cherub, after which both the kids and I were supposed to sign to acknowledge that we’d read them. Which forced me to ask, “Is this the point where I teach my children to lie?”
Neither Cherub will read four thousand paragraphs in 9-point font. (Cherub #1 has not read anything longer than a the price tag on a new basketball all summer. There’s just too much going on in his brain.) And frankly, if we get to the place where the 47-point Progressive Disciplinary Code applies to my children, I’m not sure an early parsing of the handbook would have prevented that.
The Cherubs know not to bully, throw things, cheat, steal, or email random strangers. Mostly this is because they had a FANTASTIC foster mother (credit where credit is due). We’ve done our best not to undo her fine work, and I so sent the Cherubs off this morning knowing that while they have not read the school policies, they are as in sync with the spirit of those rules as I can manage at this point. I still have not sent in the forms, because I can’t bring myself to say, “Just sign this, even though you haven’t read it.” That’s just a DUMB thing for me to teach them, and one of the top items on my parental job description is, “Try not to teach them dumb things.”
I’m praying for administrators who overlook our file status, and teachers who understand that curious young minds need boundaries.
(Speaking of which…Don’t even get me started on how there’s a whole form about the 8th grade dance. I ask you, WHAT GOOD COMES FROM FIRING UP THE HORMONES OF MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS? As someone who started dating in 4th grade, I can tell you firsthand: nothing. Nothing good comes of this. But I’m super looking forward to that conversation.)
Okay, I’ll stop ranting now. I loved school. My kids love school. Cherub #1 loves gym and lunch, while Cherub #2 loves reading and art. I’m so excited school is finally underway, because I think it is the best thing for our family. I will do my best to remain chill, to not obsess or over/under parent. To maintain the perspective shared my a kind neighbor who worked for years in social services. When she found out we were adopting, she told me, “Don’t worry too much about middle school. Studies have shown that kids have so much energy going into growing at that point, their minds are practically dormant. They don’t really learn anything new again until high school.” I’m not sure this is entirely true. But it was a kind thing to say, and I was blessed by her encouragement that not everything that happens at this point is life-altering.
Kids tend to get educated, and I’m grateful for the teachers who’ve developed the skills to make that happen.
Now I’m off to have a cup of coffee and celebrate having made it this far :)