Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bittersweet Last Days

Sorry I haven't written in a couple of days, been on the run this last couple of weeks of school. Lots going on, lots of planning for summer fun and learning, and me feeling like a cartoon character running behind a car that is leaving me in the dust. The warm summer evenings, well at least a couple of them...hahaha it is now wintry again here with 42 degrees yesterday morning, and late evening light have left us all feeling very ready for easy, lazy summer days. We had such a terrible summer last year with all of us so ill the entire time that we are looking forward with great zeal to an enjoyable time this year, made that much more so with the addition of the girls.

But it is also a bittersweet time, as we reflect on our experiences the last 6 years at a wonderful public school, and recall memories of friends, teachers and other faculty who have added so much to our lives. Last Friday we all participated in the 3rd annual Walkathon the school holds, and were so surprised to receive a call a couple of weeks before inviting all the kids to participate and get TShirts. This is such a thoughtful group of people at this school, a real family devoid of much of the politics that often goes on in public educational institutions.

The kids all went and had a blast, with a huge surprise in seeing Kenny walk..or should I say RUN...most of the way. He did a total of about 13 miles I think we calculated, and it was almost shocking to watch a talent pop up right before your eyes. Wow! And THIS was the kid who literally sat down on the soccer field and cried when he first came home because he didn't want to run!! It almost gave me chills to think of his journey in symbolic terms, with his success last Friday being a real visual illustration of the transformative power of a family in the lives of children.

But it was also symbolic of the transformative power of community in their lives as well, a lesson I am internalizing more and more on a daily basis. Our school which we leave behind with the fondest of memories and love for the people who work there has been instrumental in our children's lives. I kid you not, the support our family has received there, the prayers that have followed us (Yes, the prayers from those who work at a governmental institution...remember there are real live people there!) from that place, the encouragement we have received has been nothing short of amazing. We have been blessed in a million ways, and it is not without some trepidation that we embark on this new phase of life, one we are trying to embrace as yet another adventure as we look to homeschool all five of them. I will admit that trepidation grows with each passing day and with every comment from others I know who raise their eyebrows and say "Wow...I could never do that, especially not with your kids and their needs! You are so brave!". No, I am not brave at all...and I am trying hard not to let the sheer terror sink in, as it IS so very, very scary.

The biggest motivator though is that it is scarier NOT to do it, for many reasons, both academic and social.

As always though, the Spirit reaches out and comforts using those around us. So many people ask me how in the world can I know it is really God speaking. I have to ask in return, how can it be so obvious and so ignored by some??? God YELLS at us at moments, but just as I too have done and will do in the future too, I am sure, we often ignore it trying to follow our own desires and placing more emphasis on what seems rational. Rational flew out the window years ago and it disappeared completely on a cold winter afternoon in Kazakhstan when we received a phone call saying "Please come back...".

Through my fears, I have been sent those who reassured me that we are indeed making the right decision for our particular situation. God knew exactly who to send whose voices would be heard more clearly by me. Hearing from those who are in the trenches, who can validate that your concerns are not imagined, who know your children and your family and can say to you "You are definitely doing the right thing, don't ever question that."...well, it helped so much. I was sent two people from our "old life " and one from our "new life" who each approached me saying essentially how wise we were to recognize our kids' needs and that we were perfectly suited to do this, even though it appears so challenging from the outside. Funny how the right words at the right time can provide so much comfort.

And so we say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new. Not without tears, as Kenny waited for me to arrive home and talked well into the night about how he was looking forward to it, but was scared too about the changes coming. Me too, too. As I was walking the field for the walkathon last week, I kept being passed by children I knew and cared deeply about. They'd run to catch up to me, visit for a bit, then move on. It was a visual metaphor for our lives. We cross paths with others, enjoy our time with them, and then part ways. Once in awhile you linger in one place for awhile, the relationships formed last longer, but inevitably a time comes to part.

We are so grateful to the staff at OES. There are some talented, caring, wonderful people there and we will miss them all very, very much. It is my hope that we will not find the need to return, but should we fail at homeschooling, I know that our children would be warmly welcomed back. I will personally miss so much about our years spent there, the hearts that connected with ours, the children whose smiles and hugs have often greeted me.

Thank you to every single teacher who has helped our children thrive. Thank you to the office staff whose smiles and cheerful greetings have made every single day walking in there a little brighter. Thank you for the talent you shared with our kids and the character issues you reinforced for us at home. We have kids who do not fit the norm, which is what the system best serves. You do an outstanding job of serving those kids within the confines of the system with which you work. We will miss you all so much.

And tomorrow dawns a new day, the beginning of yet another phase in our life as we embrace yet ANOTHER change this year. Talk about having to be flexible and able to roll with the punches, if this year hasn't forced us to become more "silly putty-ish" than I don't know what will. Without God hanging out with us, I think I would have totally lost it by now, and this year has proven to me just how much I have changed over the past few years. In the midst of the storms, as the waves lift us to scary heights then drop us sharply down again, we are all still afloat, grinning at one another as we shout "Wow!!! That was a BIG one!". Our life vests are on, we are holding hands tightly, and we are waiting for the waters to eventually calm which might allow us to clearly see the shore ahead and better understand what our destination is. For now though, I am happy to be in the boat with the people I share it with. They are the strongest, kindest, smartest people I know. I am still very scared of what is to come, but I know I have the best crew in the world.

They are my family, and we will weather any storm well together.


Anonymous said...

For so many there is a ceremony to commemorate the moving of one phase of education to another--a continuation or graduation ceremony. I have found that this is equally or more important for parents as we3ll as students. You have not had such a celebration with the attendant mixed emotions--pride, nostalgia, melancholy. A Walkathon and some T-shirts mark this moment of moving on for you. Most of us have those moments of anxiety and doubt at the big move such as a graduation at any level. But you are moving into a world of the pioneers. You are going where few men--and women and children--have gone before. There are many who support and cheer your decision and also hold you==Team LaJoy--in awe for your courage. Thank God for God, for the Holy Spirit. May you be sent the resources you need at every step of the way. May you be given the courage to continue on your chosen path.


Anonymous said...

Anchors away! May you all continue to pull at the same time, with Dad at the rudder, Mom at the helm, and each in their place, pulling their oar.

I might have my nautical terms mixed up, but I picture a boat with you all working together to keep headed in the right direction. There is some old saying that goes something like, "Dear God, please be kind to me. The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small." However it goes, the metaphor stands for this new adventure you are sailing into.

Does your state have benchmarks for each grade level? You might be going about it in an entirely different way, but if you can point your craft in that general direction, your kids are going to be meeting those and more.

Of course it won't be smooth sailing every day, but Jesus already showed us that He can calm the sea. I look forward to reading about the many exciting things you and your kids are learning together.

I appreciated your post about your public school. I can only imagine how hard it is to leave those people who have also supported you and your children. Ours is a good school district with caring teachers and staff. We just had our IEP meeting (late!) for our newest daughter, whom testing discovered qualifies for special education services in math. We're hoping it's more tied into language, confidence, etc. But no matter what, we've got things in line to work towards increased success this fall. In the meantime, we have some tutoring she's involved in and math work I'll be doing with her this summer. I think as much as anything, she's put math on the back burner while she worked so hard at the language. We shall see.

Enjoy the trip!
Nancy in the Midwest