[Quiet Thoughts] It Gets More Complicated As They Grow

Photo: Taking my NaNo challenge very seriously! Printed out Act One and edited it by hand! But seriously, don’t read it…

What a week to be a mother. Steps forward and backward in the potty wars, a collapse of napping (again) and much consequences there of, a reminder that my toddlers are “working on” different areas of development and that I need to be patient and meet them where they are…

And a new cognitive level reached: Ursa Major has discovered the power of “Why.”

If I hadn’t been paying attention, I might not have noticed it, but Ursa Major figured out this week that he can notice something and then ask “why” that something is happening, and Mama will give him a pretty good explanation of what he’s looking at. That’s a huge thing for him to have learned, because now Mama isn’t just the mighty tyrant, but now she can be the walking encyclopedia of the world. I’m my kid’s first Google and Wikipedia and boy is my brain tired!

The educator in me is delighted to have reached this stage. Careful cultivation of this part of toddlerhood could mean that he will always be curious, that his mind will always be open to the fantastic and the wonderful and the new. I’ve tried to check my annoyance when we’ve gotten to “why” level 3 or 4, where it just keeps going and going… eventually you get to a level of sophistication that he’s not ready for and he’s on to the next thing.

And that, of course, has me thinking about some of the challenges that we’ve got ahead of us. I learned very recently that full-day kindergarten is available in our town for a very significant tuition (Over $3,000) while half-day kindergarten is free. This is a huge problem for me because Major is just so ready to be in school all day. I went to full-day kindergarten. I don’t understand why, especially in a community like this one, full-day kindergarten isn’t offered.

This presents a multi-level problem that has ramifications for all three of us:

First: There is the financial burden of shelling out a significant amount of money for another 2 years so that these boys may get the best schooling that we think we can get for them. (Granted, only one of those years will be a double tuition year, but still, it’s not a little bit of money.)

Second: If we choose not to put Ursa Major in full-day kindergarten, it means that both he and his brother will get out of school at the same time. That likely means that I will need to find a new school for Ursa Minor to attend for his last year of preschool, which removes us from a community that we’re now well established in and starting all over again for his last year, whereever he goes.

Third: If we choose not to put the boys in full-day kindergarten, it means that I have to stay home for at least one year longer than we thought because I will have to be here for the pick-ups and drop offs, which means another year with nothing to show on my resume and falling farther behind in whatever I’m supposed to be doing…

The entire thing is very frustrating. Just as when we started this whole school journey, I see my son and his potential, I know exactly what he needs and what will work best for him, but I will probably not have the financial means of providing it for him. I keep telling myself that this is a problem that all mothers face in the many iterations of motherhood and that I need to take a deep breath and stay focused… but it still hurts. I have very little control in the world, but I thought I’d gotten a handle on this.

I still have time to think about this, but my Quiet Thoughts are about the unexpected challenges of motherhood and trying to do this “right.” There are a lot of moving pieces and considerations to be had here and, frankly, we haven’t found an answer that is either elegant or happy. We’re going to be out a lot of money, or leaving our school community early or both, and I’m wondering when we should just go ahead and rip off the bandaid. I’m reminded today that sometimes it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how efficient you are, or how many resources you have: there are just some decisions that have to be made that are hard to make and harder to execute.

Stay tuned on this one, dear reader.

On this cool and windy Friday, with milky skies and just a few remaining leaves on the trees, I wish you a moment to ask a good “why” question. Why is the sky blue? Why is this book so good? Why am I here instead of somewhere else? Why was I chosen to do this or that? Why not move this knight instead of this bishop? A good question to occupy your mind for a time, and hopefully lead to other questions and maybe a few answers. I wish you an excellent sandwich, hot and with mustard on it, with melted cheese and maybe some lettuce and onion and tomato, and  I hope that it’s messy and requires lots of napkins to eat. And while you have it, I wish you a good piece of writing to read with it, something that sets your imagination alight. I wish you a someone who captures your imagination, sharing time and a laugh with you, a good story, a gentle touch, a quiet whisper. I wish you time to sleep and dream. I wish you love and joy, and the wisdom of knowing that you are deserving of both.

I’m posting Meadowlark part one. Don’t read it! Just… you know… let it sit there… but don’t… don’t read it. Cool? Cool.

Until Monday, take care.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. zeudytigre says:

    One boy benefiting from structured school early doesn’t mean both will. All three of my kids took different routes pre school at different costs. This had its own issues of course, like how to be at two (or three) different places at the same time. With extra curricular clubs, interests and differing friendship groups that particular problem goes on for a very long time.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Did that drive you crazy? Doing all of that shuffling…?

      And, looking back, do you feel like your kids got the education that they personally needed? That you gave them enough to flourish in their own ways? That’s my big thing right now… my boys learn in very different, yet wonderful, ways… but VERY DIFFERENTLY. And I am concerned that Major, especially, isn’t going to flourish in public school. He learns slowly, individually, and deliberately. Montessori style…but we just can’t afford it. It hurts so much to know that I’m so close and so far.

  2. zeudytigre says:

    I did some things wrong, like enrolling my boys in the fabulous (and expensive) pre school where my daughter thrived. My elder boy was subjected to a year of that before I realised that his reported ‘issues’ were that he wished to run around and play rather than sit still and learn his letters. He was three years old. I took him out and put him in the volunteer run local group where he thrived. My younger son just wanted to be with me, even if that meant car journeys and waiting around while I read stories to him and we waited for his siblings to finish whatever they were doing. He needed the hugs more than the socialising.

    Yes it drove me mad. I had no life of my own for a decade and that was bloody. I was also not always there when I wanted to be. I missed swim assessments and badge presentations because I was at a football match. I didn’t see my boys gain their judo belts because I had to pick my daughter up from riding lessons.

    But now, looking back, that was a part of their education. They had to accept that they couldn’t do everything their friends did because I simply couldn’t fit another drop off and pick up into our schedule. They ended up all trying stuff because they would otherwise just be hanging around waiting for whichever sibling had the interest.

    School has been tough for all three so I offer no further advice on that. I eventually took my youngest out and home schooled him in preparation for high school as his motivation and self esteem had been destroyed. As teenagers they have found their own way to cope, and they appreciate that I raised them to question rather than follow blindly, but they also see me as a bit of a doormat because I have always been at their beck and call.

    I guess I would just say that you can only mould so much, and you cannot know at the time which decisions will impact. Not much help I’m afraid.

    One thing I would say though is we considered private school (fee paying) as, in Britain, that leads to contacts and openings that the state system cannot offer. In the end we decided that the cost would put too much strain on us as a family unit. I would have had to return to work full time and I wanted to be the one to raise my kids. I think that was the right choice for us. My kids experience social diversity every day and have built an understanding and resilience that, I think, will help them through life.

    My experience will not be yours. If there were an easy answer to raising kids then we would all choose that route.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Wow, this is so helpful and insightful. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with me. This reminds me that there are few right choices but probably fewer -wrong- ones, too, but either way, nothing is easy. I suppose that the worst thing about motherhood is that it feels like you are constantly slamming into these walls. So few valleys, very many peaks, you know?

  3. Ladies, I cannot add to this conversation as my children’s path was a reasonably expensive religious private school from pre-k to 5th grade for my eldest and 3rd grade for the my youngest. Then, I shipped them to public school — yes, culture shock and all!

    What I completely agree withis every child’s educational path is different and highly personalized based on that child’s needs and desires. My boys are now 15 & 18. The older one needed high levels of interaction with his teachers and extracirricular work to keep him from disrupting the class. So even in public school he received extra attention from the majority of his teachers especially once I opened full lines of communications with them.

    The youngest excelled when left alone. You micromanage him? He shuts down. Totally different teaching style and school choices! For him, small environments work so he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. His 9th grade class was 89. 🙂

    My point is even though I can no longer afford private school I looked high and low for all options for what my children needed. I even unearthed scholarships for enrichment programs for the boys.

    Motherhood should be located as a sub-bullet under researcher (who doubles as an ATM).

    Clearly, you both have had/are experiencing success with you children. Now it’s time for the next level. Indiegogo anyone?? 🙂

    All the best to you both.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Yes, see… this is the next thing. I need to decide to get resourceful and advocate more. I guess I don’t want to get my heart broken again: We did this before with the eldest and were accepted into two great schools with $18k tuitions and received not a drop of financial aid. It’s hard to be that close and yet that far. If I can turn my disappointment into resourcefulness, things may be better all around. It’s an exhausting thing, though, as I KNOW you know!!

      1. You know I do! You will find the right way that is easily affordable to you and your family. I believe that strongly.

  4. If it doesn’t matter how smart or efficient you are, or what resources you have, then suck it up and send em to public school for a year or two. It’s a rite of passage and badge of honor to survive it lol

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