Thursday was the first day of school for the kids.
It was the first day our third-grade daughter has been to school since pre-school.
It was the first day our fourth-grade son has been to school since Kindergarten.
It was the first day for our oldest son to be in middle school.
It was the first day for the toddler and I to figure out what life would look like with just the two of us at home.
After three years of home schooling, it was the first day for a lot of things.
I wish, and I was hoping, that I would be able to get on my blog and write a glowing report about how perfect and happy everyone was. I really wasn’t expecting the range of emotions that we experienced.
Our daughter was a bundle of excitement at drop-off, while the boys were very nervous. I was nervous, too. It was overwhelming for us to be amidst so many PEOPLE. There were lots of rules to learn and supplies to put in their places and pieces of paper with information.
In the middle school, my son did a great job figuring out how to open his new locker. And we found out which room was his “home room.” Then we stood like home schoolers in headlights as all of the other students, parents and teachers ran around giving hugs and high fives and chatting away after the summer break. We had arrived way too early, which left minutes that felt like decades to just stand there waiting for the bell to ring and the awkwardness to end.
Our sixth grader gave me a brave good-bye and told me it was OK to leave him so I could go drop off the fourth grader. Our middle son woke up at 4 .m. with too much anticipation, so by 8:30, he was almost sick from being tired and anxious. I was holding back tears as I slipped away and just prayed the bell would ring and he could get settled in a new routine.
When I got home, I pulled out some of my huge stash of Discovery Toys books and music CDs and the toddler literally danced and sang the morning away. I was expecting her to throw a tantrum that the other kids were gone. Instead, she played happily all morning. We literally have had so little time together in her almost three years of life that I was a mix of joy and guilt, sprinkled with deja vu moments of the last time I had had only ONE child. How did the time go so fast? How could HE be in middle school?
It does seem that home schooling slows down the time in a way. When you spend every single day with your kids, the days seem like maybe they don’t slip away quite as fast. Then sending them off to school suddenly brings back the reality that those days are gone. Either way my first baby is in middle school. And now I am living through these toddler years for the last time with my last baby.
At pick-up, I quickly found out that the reviews of the day fell on a spectrum according to birth order. It was fabulous and exciting at the bottom, difficult and overwhelming at the top and a mix of the two in the middle.
We had some awesome conversation at the end of the day, and God has already taught us some lessons, even after only one day. When you home school there are no social dynamics to interfere with the process of learning. You don’t have to worry about where you will sit at lunch, who you will play with at recess or who will sit right next to you in class. You don’t have to contend with the fact that 95 percent of the other students have been friends for years already, and they all are excited to see each other and aren’t really thinking about the new kids.
My kids have been on the opposite side of that so many times. They are used to being part of a community of friends they know very well. How many times has a newcomer entered the picture and we turned the other way in favor of focusing on what is known and comfortable?
As a mom, I want to swoop in and make it all better and take away the awkwardness and the hurt. And then I realize that if I want my kids to develop compassionate hearts, if I want them to care about those who struggle, if I want them to feel someone else’s pain, then I should be thankful for each day they get to experience some of that.
They will be stronger in the end. They will be better in the end. And Day Two will be a little better than Day One.
More about Day Two coming soon…