[Author’s note: I wrote this almost 2 months ago and never published it because….life. Hopefully this post will explain some of that ;).]
Here we are, nearly at the end of another school year, and I’ve hardly blogged at all, let alone talked much at all about all of the changes we went through this year. If I’m honest, it’s been another difficult year. We decided mid-year last year that homeschooling was not a great long-term option for our family and started enrolling the girls in a bunch of lotteries for charter and magnet schools in Durham. Much to our surprise, Teddy got into our top choice and (in our opinion) one of the best schools in Durham. And although we were super excited, that reaction was tempered when we realized JJ would not get in with a spot at number 40 on the waitlist for her grade. So we gratefully accepted the position for Teddy and moved on to Plan B for JJ. We registered her for our local public elementary school through the district ESL office and I walked away from that feeling rather encouraged about the school we were sending her to. After speaking with a couple friends who also had their kids at the same school I felt like JJ would actually be in an environment that would help her thrive. We went into this school year with really high hopes about both schools are were excited to watch our girls grow.
Unfortunately, things just did not really live up to expectations at JJ’s school. I’ve been hesitant to talk about this because it’s hard to be transparent when feelings about public school vs. private vs. charter/magnet schools run SO high. Especially in this area where public schools have a pretty bad reputation which is oftentimes unwarranted. But at the end of the day, I really believe every parent needs to look at the needs of their individual child, no one should make a school choice for their child out of guilt. After multiple meetings with teachers and administration at this school, we decided to pull JJ out so I could homeschool her for the rest of the year. Part of the driving force for this change was academics and part was classroom behavior and bullying that we felt the administration did not do its best to address. It was a hard decision. And not just because we were abandoning our plans in the middle of the school year. I feel pretty ill-equipped as a homeschooler and beyond that, I just don’t enjoy it. I get easily frustrated, which makes my kids frustrated, and then everyone ends up pretty grouchy and none of this is conducive to a good learning environment. I’ve struggled through a lot the second half of this school year doing something I’m not naturally good at or passionate about. It’s also a struggle to only have a break from school and kids and keeping up with the house at a job where people depend on me to take care of their needs. I feel like I’m constantly “on,” and continually giving to people who need me. There are a lot of days that I have to make the choice to put my head down, plow through, and try find the joy in it all.
And after all that negativity, here’s is the positive…JJ is doing GREAT. She has grown academically by leaps and bounds since we pulled her out of school. She’s reading 5 levels ahead of where she was mid-year (and she literally was making no progress–she was testing on the same level she had come in on), and she’s gained a ton of confidence in all sorts of new things. We feel like we have a solid plan in place for her next year–she’ll be attending the same school Teddy is at. I’ve spoken with teachers and administrators at the school and both Corey and I feel confident that this will be a great fit for her.
And me? I’ve learned a lot too. That even when you think you can’t, you’re able to give and give when you feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve learned that happiness and joy are choices you make every single day, often for the benefit of another person. So I’m over here taking deep breaths and continually choosing joy even in–especially in–the hard moments. Because this big girl of mine–she’s worth it.