Wednesday, August 09, 2006

School Days, School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days

In less then two weeks school will be back in session. Grace will be entering the first grade. I am amazed at how much she has grown up over the summer. Last year she was so naive and innocent on the ways of the world. I liked it that way. I could protect her. She acted the way we wanted her to. Her mommy and daddy were her role models and from that path she did not divert. It was like having our own little mini-me. Somewhere through the course of her kindergarten year, though, she figured out that she has a voice of her own, no matter how small it is. Throughout the year and even more rapidly this summer, I have witnessed her transform into her own unique, individual, smart-aleck person. Her interests no longer mirror our interests. She has developed her own likes and has started to make plans for her future. Yesterday she told me she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. I was all like "A WHAT? Do you understand that neither your daddy or myself can draw a straight line with A RULER! What are your chances, really, of being a fashion designer?" Of course I didn't tell her that. That would be just plain wrong. Instead I encouraged her new idea. I even bought her a few pads of paper and color pencils for her to practice. Sure, I know by next week she'll be on to something else.

I just want to do for her (and Alex and Eva) what my parents didn't do for me. Now, don't get me wrong. My parents are good people. They raised me and my four siblings to the best of their ability and used their knowledge to the fullest extent to be good parents. The end results for them have been great. We all have a good head on our shoulders and are in some capacity of our lives successful. It was different back then, though. Their generation believed that kids should be left to their own devices. They didn't really encourage us or interact with us. They were never shy on the discipline, but they were never strong on the relationship building. In conversation, they told us we could to be an individual and follow our own long as that path was the same one as theirs.

I will never forget my parents reaction when I told them I was changing my major from elementary education to public relations. "Will you be able to get a job?" In their minds, the only way to make a living was to be a public school teacher. Mention anything else and you might as well have told them you were moving to Saturn to be the satanic leader of the newly developed Planet Nation. They just could not fathom the possibility of being anything other than a teacher. The mental torment I went through over the course of my college years is what makes me look at life so much differently. Everyday it was a battle of thoughts in my mind. Do I do what I think is best for me or do I do what my parents think is best for me? I DO NOT want my kids to go through that. I want to instill in them a strong understanding of the values and morals we hold as parents. I want them to know WHY we hold those beliefs. At the young age of two, Alex is already asking why. "No you can't eat a whole box of cookies. " "Why, mommy, why?" Answers like "because I said so" or "because I'm your mother" don't even satisfy him at TWO YEARS OLD. There's no point even trying those comebacks on Grace. She's all I don't play that way so you better tell me why I can't eat a whole box of cookies and back it up with some well researched facts quickly because you are losing credibility as a parent. Strangely, I'm okay with that. Not the losing credibility as a parent thing but in her being inquisitive. That's how she learns best. And if we want them to find our morals and beliefs valuable in their lives shouldn't they understand why we believe the things we do? Not just do it because that's how its done and how it has always been done. How archaic!

Back to school night is this Thursday. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole school thing. I know EMPHATICALLY that I do not want my children in the public school system. I was content with our choice to have them educated in a private, catholic school that will support the lessons we are teaching them at home. I'm just not 100% satisfied with the academic resources and teaching practices. Kids are like sponges at this age. This is when they should be exposed to as much knowledge as possible. Learning should be fun. Chris and I will definitely be keeping a close watch on Grace's progress and her learning environment over the course of the next year. We will also be supplementing at home to fill in any of the gaps and expose her to more than what can be taught in a formal institution. I guess we'll know more about the future of her education after Thursday.