I am getting tired of myself and the way I think. Instead of keeping an open mind about a decision, I filter out what I don’t want to hear and filter in what I do want to hear.
Case in point…
Last year we were trying to decide on a school for Brianna. I was dead set on enrolling her in a Christian school. There was absolutely no way on earth anyone could convince me otherwise. I was actually disgusted in my heart at anyone who was a Christian who sent their child(ren) to a public school; especially one in our county. Not disgusted in a way that caused friction, but disgusted in a way that made me feel sorry for their kids. Maybe disgusted is too strong of a word. Probably more like pity.
So, we (I) found a Christian school for Brianna and we (I) enrolled her. Rich even tried to talk me out of it. I would have none of that. My statement was, “I will eat Ramen noodles and live in a box before I’d ever send my kid to a public school”.
Now let me tell you a thing or two about my daughter. She is shy. Painfully so at times. I can see when she is about to crawl all up inside herself and I want to drag her back out. She is darling. Very sweet and kind and considerate and helpful and thoughtful. She has a temper, but that rarely shows unless she is in the company of those she loves. She is obedient and agreeable; especially in an instructional setting. At school, she does not speak unless spoken to and she does not get in trouble. She is the model student…. a pleasure for any teacher who has had the privilege of having her in class.
Starting around October, I suppose, Brianna’s attitude started changing. It was gradual, but it was noticeable to me. Her school hours for Kindergarten (yes, she is only 5 yrs old) were 8 to 12 with a snack and recess included in that time. She wasn’t in school for very long at all. However, despite the short days at school, she would come home an absolute grouch. It got so bad that shortly before the Christmas 2 week break she was even raising her voice at my 1 year old because (Brianna’s words) “his baby talking is getting on my nerves and he is laughing at me and I don’t like it”. I started noticing that it would take her near 2 hours each day after school to normalize. She would say hurtful things to her 3 1/2 yr old brother and pick at him repeatedly and sometimes relentlessly until he was crying or I heard what was going on and could intervene. She started raising her voice to me and hardly an afternoon went by without her receiving some sort of punishment. She cried a lot and started reverting back to throwing temper tantrums. At.Five.Years.Old.
At first, I thought it might be a phase. What did I know? She is my first born so everything that’s new to her is new to me too. So, I started asking my friends with kids around her age if their kids were going through this attitude adjustment too. Only one person gave the slightest hint that her child is grouchy from time to time after school. But, her child’s circumstances are different than Brianna’s (he is in school and an aftercare program so by the time he gets home he has been away from home 9-ish hours and he’s hungry — entirely understandable).
One day, after babysitting a handful of kids, Rich and I took our kids over to a friend’s house for a fun little Christmas party. During that visit, I got to talk to a woman who probably has no idea that our conversation opened my eyes wide to the possibility that my precious Brianna was being ruined by her school. I don’t think the thought had occurred to me until then.
I started researching. I am like that. I talked to teachers in our public school system as well as our neighboring school system. I talked to parents who had removed their kids from Christian schools and put them in public schools. I made phone calls. I wrote e-mails. I visited message boards. I did it all. I had a million questions and a billion worries. What I found out stunned me. My daughter was stressed out and only 5 years old. The environment and curriculum she was subjected to at a Christian school was suffocating her sense of self and creativity.
I prayed. I asked God to stop me from making another biased decision. I wanted to be objective. I wanted Him in the lead. And, lead He did.
I quickly set about enrolling her in a local charter school. Last week, I enrolled her in the charter, withdrew her from the Christian school, and prayed hard that I had made the right decision. There were many confirmations, actually. First of all, the women who work in the front office of the charter are born-again Christians. I will not explain how I know this for fear that they could be somehow reprimanded. It is between me and them and that’s that. I am happy about it and God used them (w/out them knowing it) to confirm my decision to enroll her in the charter.
The first day of school was a long one for me. Brianna is now in school a full day. I was concerned about that. There was a little bit of anxiety in my heart over an extra 2 1/2 hours at school and eating lunch there instead of at home. Would she know what to do and where to go? Would she get tired and worn out? Would the kids accept “the new shy girl” who just walked into their lives? Would her teacher be sensitive to Brianna’s personality? I had so many fears for her.
When I pulled up to pick her up, I couldn’t even get the question out of my mouth about her day when she burst into the van and blurted out, “Mommy, thank you SO MUCH for sending me to this new school. I LOVE IT!!”
“Awesome” can’t even describe the way I felt when I heard those words. I almost cried and silently offered up praise to my God. Thank you Jesus. She had a great day!
Nothing has changed since then. She has had great day after great day. She is happy and smiling every afternoon when I pick her up. She is eager to go to school in the morning (at the other school she would sometimes beg me to keep her home). Her attitude is back to normal and she is teaching her brother some of the things she is learning. She has made a few friends and can’t wait to do her homework (she didn’t even have homework at the last school).
I am so pleased it gives me goosebumps. The Lord worked in that from beginning to end… guiding me, putting the right people in my path, and giving me peace when I was looking for even the slightest hesitation.
However, behind that happiness for Brianna lingers an anger for that other school. I want to lash out at them. How dare they treat those kids like that and charge their parents tuition making them think that their education is somehow superior. It’s not superior. It’s inferior.
Be careful, friends. Watch how your kids behave. It will tell you volumes about what happens when you aren’t looking. Don’t let anything out of your radar. A small child’s happiness or unhappiness is easy to decipher if you are watching.