Layla has changed so much since last January when she started public school. Gradually as she started going to class she started seeming happier and more fulfilled. By the time first grade let out in May Layla seemed much more at ease and even happier. Public school was a pretty smooth and effortless transition for her and hard but not unbearable for me. When summer arrived I was thrilled to 'have her back' in a way that I see some parents talk about and feel when they have their kids "back" and out of school for the summer. That's one thing I like about homeschooling, it's not a seasonal thing to have my kids at home, it's permanent. Last year it was fairly easy to have her start public school, because she started in January. I knew in roughly four months she would be home again. This time it's a wee bit different. She's in for the year. Her first full year of public school. So when that bus pulled up to our steps and I snapped this photo tears welled up in my eyes.
A few weeks ago she told me she was staying home this fall and was back to homeschooling. My heart swelled. We were having such a good time. She's a completely different kid. She's so at ease, so happy, so much more patient. I know over the years I've given her the love, time and patience she's needed to gain self confidence and work through her sensory issues and that makes me proud of the effort and trials we've both faced together.
Throughout this whole summer we haven't had one problem like we used to have: no anger, no bad outbursts, barely any tears, no unhappiness. She's been simply content and happy. (Bad moods are not long lasting when they do happen now, everyone has them sometimes of course!) Maybe this is how smooth things will be from now on, maybe not, but I'm delighted seeing her sunshine filled smile a lot more often. Her gratitude towards me is beaming, her humor is as witty and as sharp as ever, her radiant energy keeps all of us alert. She always has needed me and loved me, the difference now is she shows it in her actions.
When she told me she was back to homeschooling this year I hugged her and let her know that I liked that idea a lot. (That's another thing, she hugs me more now, and we hold hands and take walks.) I didn't tell her yes or no to homeschooling this year. I knew she wasn't ready yet, but she's enjoying being home so much she didn't want it to end. I didn't either. Since the school is such a good school and it is good place for her right now I figured I should not expect her to really stay home. Not surprisingly a week later she wanted to go back to public school for "one more year." I told her that even though I want her home I know this school is the right thing for right now. She happily agreed. I was so happy for her mature decision and that she wanted to be with the family too. Choosing something that is right over something you just want is a very mature decision. I was always afraid her going to public school would somehow mess up or change our homeschooling family dynamic. (An idea that maybe only a homeschool parent would understand...?) I realized quickly you can't change the family dynamic when you have a strong family.
It's still hard because even with most good schools there are things that make me uneasy. I'm sad for the little boys she talks about that don't hold still in class and lose recess because of it (kids NEED recess and it should not be used as punishment), it's disappointing kids are given sugar everyday multiple times a day in the lunch and/ or classroom, it's super disappointing to me there is only one recess a day, it's hard for me to understand boxed up standardized learning and her being away from home so much. But it's okay. The confidence she shows and the schedule she is given at school is what she wants. The independence and structure and book learning is what she likes. I'm not going to tell her that's bad, it's not. As long as she's happy and has good role models at school I'll support her. Even though I miss her.
Yesterday morning five year old Penelope said she would "miss Mommy if she went to public school." Layla said, "I miss Mommy too, but it's just what I have to do." That was the first time she ever said she missed me, the last school year she always said she didn't miss us. :)
I always want to remember this transition in her life, how hard of a baby and toddler she was and what an extraordinarily young girl she has become. She's so thankful and responsible for things, people and her actions. She's so watchful and content. I'm so very proud of her, and our family. Go Layla!!!