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Back to School

August 22, 2009


It’s starting: that crazed back-to-school rush that begins far too early each morning and lasts much too long into the evening. Right now I’m filled with anticipation and (dare I say it?) relief that school is starting on Monday. I’m sure in a month or two I’ll be longing for June, when I can sleep past six a.m. and don’t have to spend every waking minute concerned with homework or packing a lunch or making sure my hoodlums look respectable.


But right now the rush feels good. I’ve spent the last week making difficult choices about where to send our children to school, filing and delivering withdrawal and transfer paperwork, buying last minute school supplies and clothing, attending Open House…


…School hasn’t even begun but already I don’t have time to breathe.


That’s okay, though, because I actually feel amazing without breathing. We’ve had the private school thing hanging like a pall over us for the entire summer, even though we’d already made the decision to tough it out for another year and had even paid the kids’ tuition in full. I did not even realize what a shroud it had become until that last nerve was plucked, discussion ensued, and we decided to withdraw Autumn and Lawson from the private school we’d moved them to just last year, and put them back in the public school system. This nerve came in the form of a letter we received notifying us that Autumn was eligible for the “gifted” enrichment program—but to the tune of $400, plus fees for the several many field trips that would likely be taking place within the program.


Enough was enough. We were already paying out the wazoo for our kids to attend this school—and for what? To pay more to gain access to a benefit that I, struggling with my deeply entrenched public-school mentality, really felt like should be freely available to those children who had worked hard, shown discipline and motivation? It just didn’t sit well with me. We could pay extra for piano lessons, if we wanted, and violin. We could pay extra for before and after school care, if needed. We could pay extra for bus transportation, if we felt like driving fifteen minutes to the communal stop. We could pay extra for the school to purchase the kids’ school supplies. Oh, wait—this was not voluntary. Other things that we paid extra for kept piling up, as well—a hefty book fee that included a beautiful, expensive yearbook. Uniforms. Field trips. Dress down days.


Most of these things were fine. After all, I understand that when your kid attends a private school, uniforms are kind of necessary. And I never mind paying for a great field trip. But at some point, all of the extra fees get a little ridiculous.


That mindset pretty much brought us full-circle to the decision that it would be wise to move the kids back to their public school, as long as it wouldn’t break their hearts. So we consulted them. Autumn was thrilled to return to her old buddies, and Lawson couldn’t care less, as long as Autumn was in the same place.


And so began the whirlwind. Withdraw. Transfer. Shop for school supplies. Shop for clothing, because nothing new has been purchased in a year, practically. Attend Open House and meet teachers. Try to explain to everyone What the Heck is Going On.


Shopping for school supplies was our balm, crazy as that sounds. It was putting a band-aid over a small, smarting laceration and feeling the healing begin. Walking the aisles of Wal-Mart and Target, allowing the kids to read the lists and take part in selecting their own supplies—it was the perfect beginning of a new school year.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 2:50 am

    It sounds like you made a good decision, Lori; also, there is just something magical when one is out shopping for school supplies, you know?

    I still love to do it.

  2. Barbara permalink
    August 24, 2009 8:17 am

    Glad to see them back at FES.

  3. August 24, 2009 8:24 am

    You are such a great mom for following that intuition. I know it’s not easy to make that kind of switch once everything is in place. Best of luck with a new school year! And I do wonder… did Autumn get her new backpack? 🙂 Maybe you commented on it after your post on that. I’ll have to go check.

  4. hintonrae permalink*
    August 24, 2009 8:00 pm

    T4–I know exactly what you mean; I have to rein myself in from buying a bunch of cool stuff for myself.

    Barbara–They’re so psyched to be there, and of course I’m loving it. The drive’s a third of the distance, so we get to sleep later! And we had missed everyone.

    Gerb–NO, Miss Autumn did NOT get a new backpack, and I think she might have matured a little bit, because she only pouted a little bit. We did order an LL Bean for Lawson, per all of the great comments on my Facebook page (for some reason everyone left their feedback there), but it hasn’t arrived yet. We’re making do until then.

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