Thursday, June 07, 2007

High School

Julie R. emailed me this afternoon (thanks, my dear) and in her email she asked: "I read on your blog about Maggie going to school next year. When did that come about? Are you ok with that? " The short answers: Our eldest lovely lady began talking about attending high school clear back in September as she began her second year at home, and we made a plan in January. And yes, I'm ok with that.

Of course you're not getting off the hook this quickly, because there are long answers to those questions. Last fall lovely lady began campaigning to attend the high school across town, a 40-45 minute round trip, the same high school that her best friend attends. And since she can't drive herself, that would mean that loving husband or myself would be spending a total of an hour-and-a-half in the car, five days a week. The third time I told her that it simply wouldn't work, it sank in. She cried for a few days, poor thing.

Later she asked about attending our neighborhood high school, a ten-minute bike ride away. We made a deal: She had to show us that she could listen to and follow directions the first time, and complete and turn in her work responsibly. Then we'd consider it. It's been a bit of a roller coaster, and we had to have some talks about maintaining attention and effort, but she's an intelligent and responsible young lady and I have faith that she'll be very successful. I'm putting together an eighth-grade portfolio to match the one I put together last year, the enrollment paperwork is complete, and Wednesday we've got an appointment with the high school counselor.

Am I okay with it?

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Both.

I'll miss her.

I'm excited that she set a goal for herself, to show that she's ready to return for high school, and she met her goal.

I'm worried that her not-quite-diagnosable attention and memory issues will overwhelm her, and we'll be right smack into the middle of the same homework hell we were mired in during her sixth grade year.

I'm hopeful that she'll be successful, that she'll spread her wings, that she'll soar.

I'll miss the challenge and delight that comes with teaching a bright and capable student, and I'll miss the time we spend exploring knowledge and ideas together. We read Shakespeare, studied poetry, worked through algebra concepts, learned about other cultures, experimented with different art styles. It's been a real adventure, and it will be a while before the others are ready for that kind of critical exploration.

I'll have more time for other things because I won't be spending as much of my time planning and implementing stimulating learning experiences appropriate for a bright eighth grader.

I'll miss her help and the stabilizing balance and calm energy she brings to our family.

I'll breathe a sigh of relief at having the attention and memory issues become someone else's challenge, at least for part of the school day.

I'll enjoy the extra time with the little ones.

I'll miss her. She's a genuinely uniquely lovely and gentle young lady, a remarkable spirit. When we decided to bring her home she was drowning in the demands of school and family and homework. If we'd accomplished nothing at all academically these past two years, I'd still consider it time well spent because we had a chance to reconnect as a family, to repair relationships, to spend time together.

So yes, I'm okay with it. It's an exciting new chapter in her life. She's gotten the support and the direction she's needed to get back on track and feel successful again. She's found that connection with us again, a connection she'd been losing a bit as she struggled with the demands of middle school and growing up and peers and independence. I love her, I trust her, I enjoy her, and I celebrate her next step.

And no, I'm not okay. My heart is breaking a little because her presence is a golden thread woven into the fabric and routine of my days. "I'll miss you," I said. "I know," she said, and she leaned her head on my shoulder, just for a moment.

I'll miss her.

2 comments:

Julie R said...

Ok...well, that made me cry. Cat, you know I feel this way but you are the most amazing person. Good for you for letting her soar. I wish you all luck as she heads out for her new adventure that she has been WELL prepared for by those that love her SO much. Please let us know how it is going but for now...HAVE A WONDERFUL SUMMER!!!!!

KarenK said...

You've given Sweet M. a gift that will never stop giving. Good work, m'dear.