School Begins

My three year old daughter Soleil began her long journey through school last week. Her first day of Montessori was on Wednesday the 8th, and today completes her first full week.

It’s kind of amazing really.

I am sure most parents feel this way, but the first time you drop your kid off at school just bowls you over. And yes, I teared up.

I am so thrilled for her. Soleil’s meeting new kids, and painting everyday. She even has a friend named Johnny, who’s real name she doesn’t know. But depending on the day she calls him her boyfriend. Today she said, “He’s not for me.” I need to meet this boy.

Her vocabulary is rapidly improving in just a week and a half, and of course, she is picking up some mannerisms from the other kids. For example, Soleil likes to comment on her hair all of the sudden. “It’s so crazy,” she said after her bath earlier this week. Then for the first time, she asked me to brush it. The poor kid has a double cow lick and a small dose of Daddy’s curls (that was before I went bald).

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She cries or whines about going to school most days. Then she comes home and says she had fun!

Soleil’s sense of responsibility is picking up, too. We definitely encouraged her to put away her dishes and clean up beforehand, but the Montesori regimen (and seeing her peers in action) is kicking in. It’s great to have a little helper.

All in all, it’s a magical experience to watch.

Thoughts on New Mexico

This week the country experienced two more school shootings, most notably a 12 year old who opened fire on his fellow students with a 20-gauge shotgun in Roswell, NM. I am sorry to bring it up, but the danger of such an incident occured to me as we helped Soleil through her first days of school. It was not an overriding fear, just a tiny shadow.

It seems like every month there is a school shooting now. It’s hard not to think about this rash of senseless violence.

You probably noticed in the picture Soleil is wearing a private school uniform. There is a lot to say about private versus public school. For starters, the results tend to be better for the kids. But given that some of the public schools in our neighborhood are very good I cannot say that Soleil will always attend a private school.

Certainly, it is more expensive. I suddenly find myself taking my lunch to work. And as someone who went to public school, I have my own preconceived notions about private schools.

Private school also feels safer to me. They rarely experience the type of violence that you read about in the papers at public schools, and in particular the disgusting rash of shootings that are occuring at public schools.

I can’t imagine picking up the phone and having to pick up my child after a school shooting. Then there is the horror that dozens parents across the country have experienced on the past few years: Finding out your child is wounded or dead.

Private school is not a silver bullet to avoid violence, but it does reduce the risk. And I realize that it is impossible to shelter Soleil from everything.

Do we really have to consider our children’s lives are at risk when we send them to school? We live in a country where a school shooting happens almost every month. Yet our lawmakers won’t take the necessary steps to protect children. Insane.

Whatever education path we choose for Soleil, I hope that she and all of the other children across the country never have to face this kind of tragedy.

The odds of it happening are minute yet that tiny gnawing fear remains. May the madness stop.

6 Replies to “School Begins”

  1. Quite a milestone. As someone without children, I probably can’t quite grasp the potent mix of feelings you have right now. I suppose the best thing you can do is love and nurture that kid with all your heart and soul and make the best decisions you can for her health, happiness, and safety. Wish the biggest danger for her was like mine, when I was too pigheaded to accept help from the teacher and came home from school the first day with my boots on the wrong feet.

    1. You know, more than anything its good. And you’re right, you can only focus on what you can control. It’s just weird to have to think about your kid getting shot at school. Newtown showed this really can happen to little kids, too.

  2. I enjoyed reading the first part of your article. My imagination placed me inside Soleil’s shoes and yours. I am excited for her as she embarks on the road to learning new things, socializing, becoming more independent, and as she really starts to develop her personality further. I am also excited for you and your wife. All the “firsts” you two will be experiencing with Soleil. The many moments of surprises, laughter, wonderment at the things she will say and do. I hope you will continue to share them with us.

    My brows furled when I read the last part of the article. Indeed, I felt a shadow of fear rise up but I quickly dismissed it, not giving it fuel to well up inside me. I don’t want to think about it. And yet, I don’t want to be ignorant to the fact that it happens almost too commonly nowadays. I wish I had an intelligent and wise comment to share in regards to that type of violence. I know for one, that there are definitely thing that can be done to put a stop to that.

    1. Parents/caregivers need to have more of an open conversation with children and young teens and be there to lend an empathetic ear. They are sadly inundated with false beliefs, and confusing claims for what it important. Truly, what the media dishes out is almost as if it were a program to invoke insanity. We need to really hone done and make an effort to spend quality time with our children and not leave it up to their peers, television, wireless devices, PS4s or XBOXs, or social media channels to be their main points of engagement. We as parents need to be the priority engagers.

    2. What the f*ck are they doing with these types of weapons anyway? How are they getting it? There has to be much more stricter laws and better security measures to keep these weapons away from children. Granted, those who choose to keep weapons in the home really need to ensure that they are locked up, hopefully unseen, but its location known. (I really don’t know what to more to say)

    3. Perhaps we now need to incorporate in-school programs that addresses “violence”, “depression”, “feelings of alienation”, “how to have a healthy self-esteem”, “how to ask for help” …

    4. Perhaps, schools need to take their counselling departments/roles up a notch and instil some kind of program that allows them to meet with groups of students on a monthly/quarterly basis as a means of a mental health assessment.

    Oh dear. I just don’t know.

    1. I think 2 and 3 are paramount from a societal perspective. We can’t raise other people’s children, but we can assume that there will be problems. So why are we giving people access to weaponry like this? Why does this keep happeneing? And if we don’t respect and treat mental illness as a major health problem then we will continue to wreak havoc on ourselves.

  3. Well, I live in a place (Denver, CO) that is unfortunately no stranger to school shootings. It was interesting that this last one required one of my favorite radio sports announcers to race to pick up his kid – and he gave a firsthand perspective of the chaos and emotions that happen.

    We homeschooled ours through 7th and 8th grade, and then we sent them to public middle school and high school. It allowed us to set both educational and “Vickery values” foundations before the peer pressure kicked into high gear. We were lucky to be able to have homeschool as an option, and it was successful for our particular case study.

    Of course, I believe that engaged students – with engaged parents – can succeed in any educational system (homeschool, public, or private)…although you may get more engaged educators in the private system because they may be more fairly compensated. I do think my girls’ public high school had some OUTSTANDINGLY engaged educators, but I do know they were starting to buckle under the stress of high student/teacher ratios, having to take on more classes/work, and still settling for lower wages than they could make in the private sector.

    Congrats on the new milestone, Geoff – so many more to come!

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