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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New school jitters


I mentioned earlier that Charlie is going to a new school this year. After several years of him asking to switch to the public school, we have decided to give it a try.

We didn't make the decision lightly. Mike, Charlie and I met with a family therapist to talk about the decision and the reasons behind it. We prayed. We thought about it. And ultimately, we decided that it was the right choice for Charlie.

The day came to go pick up his schedule. We were in the building for about an hour. He didn't say more than 10 words. Maybe he was having second thoughts? If he'd said, "Mom, I changed my mind," I would have had him out of there and back in a Catholic school uniform faster than you can say "Pope Benedict the sixteenth." But he didn't.

Later that night, Mike asked him how he liked it. His response was classic Charlie:

"It was awesome, Dad. There were SO MANY pretty girls there."

Still, I was nervous. He moved from a school of about 500 kids to a 7th grade of nearly the same number. He had a healthy dose of nerves, but was mostly excited about the opportunity. The first day, our neighbors and his good friends met him in the driveway to walk with him to the bus stop. He wasn't too happy that I was hanging out at the bus stop, but other mothers were, so I figured it was ok. (I haven't gone back since then.)

When he came home after the first day, he said it was great...but when I asked about lunch he said he'd eaten alone. My heart sank a little bit. He didn't seem too bothered by it, so I tried not to be.

That first week, Charlie would come home and talk about teachers whose faces I didn't know, whose names I'd only seen typed out on his class schedule. About the third day of school, I realized I didn't even know the principal's name or the names of the school office staff. That just felt wrong.

The school he came from -- where Robbie still goes -- is like home to me. We've been there since Annie was 5 years old. I know the staff and the teachers. They know me. Why did I let myself be convinced that this whole switching schools business was a good idea?

Early the next week came back-to-school night. It was the same night Mike broke his ankle, so I was flying solo. I arrived a little early to attend a new family meet & greet. The principal was there, so I at least knew his name now. I talked to three or four families of other new students and then it was time to join the masses of humanity streaming through the halls, following their own students schedules.

I walked into the first classroom and introduced myself to the teacher. Much to my happiness, she knew exactly who Charlie was and told me we have a connection. Her sister-in-law teaches at Charlie's old school and her brother is our eye doctor. The massive public school world got just a little bit smaller and more personal then.

The rest of the night brought more surprises. A science teacher who is good friends with Charlie's former art teacher. An English teacher who I just wanted to hug because of her obvious passion for teaching and love of the students. A social studies teacher who clearly knows her stuff. A math teacher who made it a point to ask about Charlie's transition. And in the hallways, faces of neighbors I know by sight, but not by name because our kids have always gone to different schools.

Back-to-school night may as well have been named "Mom Breathes Easier Night." Yes, the school is BIG. Yes, I will make a point of wearing tennis shoes whenever I have to go trek across that building.  But I can say with certainty, it's a good place. And the right place for Charlie right now.


Momza said...

Ahhh the peace that comes when we realize we can trust our decisions for our family--best ever!
Here's hoping that this year will be a happy memorable one for Charlie and your family!

Roper said...

Amy, both of my little darlings transferred schools this year. I totally understand the stress of wondering if you are making the right decisions. Yesterday was the first day, I was so worried about the usual things of will they be picked on, will they make friends, will they fit in, will their teachers be good enough to teach my "babies", will the teachers appreciate their sense of humor. When I picked them up after school I saw a whole new future for them. They both talked about all of the new friends (and old friends they had lost from grade school that they found, the wonderful teachers and coaches, and how they are wanting to broaden their wings and try new things. They both told me at different times that "It's a new school and a fresh start". I love the fact that they can see the positives of the transfer, it sure makes me cry a whole lot less about sending them to school. (yes I cried just as hard when I sent my 8th and 10th grader off to school yesterday as I did on their first day of kindergarten!)

booksandcandy said...

I only went to catholic school from 4th grade until the end of 8th grade. I then switched to public school. It was a good move. I just didn't fit in a Catholic School. Yet I have a small desire to teach at a Catholic school. When I switched at the beginning of ninth grade my brother who was attending Catholic High School was in the hospital with mono not a great transition. But I remember the sigh of relief my mom gave when I told her school was good and that I had a lot less nervous stomach aches in the morning. You can't beat that!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to both of you. As long as he's happy there, I'm sure he'll do fine. I was in Catholic schools my whole life, and I HATED high school, so I knew I wouldn't send my kids to Catholic schools. But honestly, the day J started at Tully you would have thought the Pope died. My mom was NOT happy, and she told me. More than once. But after about 6 or 9 months, she finally kept her mouth shut. I know she'd rather them be in Catholic schools, but they're not HER kids. It was OUR decisions. And my kids are in 2 of the best schools in the city, we actually moved to make that happen, and they are excelling. That's all that matters to me. They're happy there, and they're doing well.
And many of my closest friends are friends that I made at school. So keep a positive attitude. Sounds like Open House was just what you needed. I hope it only gets better from here.

Unknown said...

So glad you are having a good experience. Some kids need to be seen and some need to blend in. Sounds like Charlie is liking the blending process, and yet you still have absolutely caring professionals keeping their eyes on him for you. Here's to a great start to the year!

Nate's Mom said...

Glad you are feeling better about yours, and Charlie's, school decision. What an amazing mom you are to even listen to him! I have a hard time putting Nate back in public school last year. We pulled him out after he had a horrible start to 2nd grade (How sad is that?). I homeschooled him and it was great. Then a spot opened up for him in an amazing magnet school, and we decided to give it a try. He loved it; I loved his teacher. He's still there and thriving! Hope you look back on this as a good decision too :-)
Sheri in CA

Anonymous said...

Hello, Well I guess we feel the same anxiety when our children are switching to a new school, "my baby" 17 years old boy, just has started college, and he is sort of special, a very open boy, some therapista say he could be in the Aspergers spectrum, but nobody is sure about it... So he just finished High school, (I work in that high school) he was going and coming back with me everyday, but now he has to commute by himself, twice a week he finishes his classes at 9:00 PM, and of course I'm scared, but like your son, he is really happy with his major and all new teachers and peers. Thanks god he fits in this school, and as he tells me, most of his partners have the same likes and hobbies. Regards. MarĂ­a from Monterrey, Mex.