Fight when the time is right
Emerson started 1st grade a couple of weeks ago and the transition has been rough. Mostly for me. She’s been rolling with the new teacher, new classroom, crush of humanity that is her public school with the ease of any six year old, who’s sole focus in life is, whatever happens to be directly in front of her. What’s presented to her is all she knows and she’s remarkably cool with it.
Her mother, on the other hand, is up at night worrying about unmanageable class sizes, hungry children, slashed school budgets and the lack of emotional intelligence education. I fight my own anxieties on a daily basis just to navigate the massive crowds at drop off. Then I face the reality of volunteering in a classroom with sweet children who are so wildly unprepared for learning that I want to roll up in a tight ball, rather than face my own writing deadlines and home responsibilities when I return from my weekly two-hour commitment. I’m astonished by my own daughter’s privilege as it compares to her classmates who are struggling with basic phonetics, the alphabet and even writing their own first names.
Last year, I made a conscious decision not to complain or rock the boat at school. I volunteered at every opportunity, gave money, time and any relative talent to the cause of kindergarten. Countless art projects were prepped, seeds were planted alongside tiny hands, class parties were planned and folders were stuffed. Every moment I could give soothed my heavy heart – the constant ache I felt for Emerson’s classmates who were not getting the kind of support we afford our child. Our good fortune and ability to make up for what a public school education could provide often kept me from demanding more, better or different for my own daughter. She didn’t require extra help with academics, but I learned that she is sensitive to her physical environment and responds well to clear rules lead by a nurturing example. She would need something different this year.
Now, I am by nature not a boat rocker. I try not to be a complainer. I’m a helper. I’d rather get my hands dirty with the fixing than try to shake things up. But this transition hit me on a gut level. I could not brush off the off feeling I was getting in her new classroom. I talked with friends, fellow moms and a couple trusted resources at her school about my discomfort. I sat with my feelings. Weighed the pros and cons of pushing for something different and finally requested a change.
This week, she moved to a new classroom and the skies opened up, clouds parted, birds chirped and the sun shined on us. The difference in her attitude (and my heart) is felt by all. I trust that she would have been “fine” in her original classroom. But fine is not always acceptable. We both needed a chance to thrive and after attending back-to-school night last night I’m confident she’s going to be given every opportunity to grow emotionally with this new teacher – which was my biggest concern. It’s a better fit for her (and for me) and we needed that.
Have you ever made a big decision based on a gut feeling? Truly trusted your inner guide? I think we often work with intuition without actually calling it that. However, since reading The Wise Child I’ve been really focused on my own intuition. The author talks about boosting children’s innate connection to their inner voice – that voice we are all born with, but gets quieted by our culture of distraction.
I really felt the effects of what I had been reading all summer in these past two weeks. I felt so relieved to know I could act on a feeling without being weighed down by emotions. The whole enterprise felt at once magical and yet, completely rational. I think the difference was realizing that I could make a change and ask for help from a place of power, rather than fear. And realizing that seeing my daughter thrive doesn’t come at the cost of another child’s opportunity. Big learnings happening for this mama.
P.S. If you’re buying supplies for your kids’ teachers this year, consider replacing their supply of hand sanitizer with a nontoxic version. We’d all be so much better off eliminating triclosan from our lives. I shared a round up of my favorites on All Parenting a few months back and it’s a great time to spread the news with back to school shopping well underway.