first days of first grades

new adventures - ourtreknorth-wordpress-comon the way in, the jitters started and the words didn’t come out easily — and when they did they vacillated between angry and oh-so-scared. I asked the little one what I could do and it was met with loud, big words of “I do NOT know” with tears filling those beautiful brown eyes. this was big, this new adventure — all of it — and today was the starting line and the journey ahead, right then, just looked so big.

so, instead of talking, I hugged. I held hands and walked beside this little one with words that described our time — my self-narration of our journey to school on this new, first day. I talked about how every day we would get to drive by the horses (of which she tells me there are five) and the farm with the alpaca’s (she tells me the brown one is her favorite). I tell her we’ll park every day in the small Town Hall parking lot and walk over, stopping to say a good morning to the police officer and the crossing guard (they welcome us all with large smiles, warm words and envelop us in their safety). the little one never lets my hand go as we navigate down the small stairs, past the bus monitors who all welcome us walkers and start to round the corner to the front of the school.

me and my girlie - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

and that is where feet become solid with the ground beneath them and the little one decides she can go no further. so this momma pulls her close, arm around shoulder, and asks this “how many people have wished you a ‘good morning’ so far?” (I know she’s been counting, it’s comforting to know the rhythm, to make sense of it all) the little one tells me “three, so far three good-mornings” and I smile. this is where wings  are asked to spread – even when it’s hard to do so. so, I say “three, huh? well, let’s see if we can get five before you get to your classroom with Ms D”.

and the little voice says “but I don’t remember where to go to get to Ms D” and this momma says, as is so often said, “there will always be kind people there to help you find your way”

and so we walk into a school where we’re welcomed by warm teachers and a principal who seeks out the little one, greets her with a smile and shakes her hand. we walk, hand in hand, take a left at the wooden bear, past the library she hopes to sneak into today and turn a corner … to see Ms D at her door, just waiting for this little one with such a warm smile and wide open arms.

here’s to hearing all about her adventures this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon and the many afternoons beyond. this momma can’t wait to hear of new friends, new skills learned and how she gets to choose to buy (on her own!) chocolate milk every day at lunch (as you do when you’re in first grade!). there will be bumps, there will be tears, there will be laughter and so much joy ahead — but that is the beauty of this journey, which we do together, hand-in-hand.

say hello, wave goodbye

there’s a favorite David Gray song whose tune has been rambling through my head in the past couple days as I fill boxes, make trips to donation centers, unearth long-lost items that become new treasures. a song about closing one door and opening another – it’s how I’m feeling as our little family stands at this starting line and as I help guide a little one who is struggling with what must feel like an enormity to her.

so, this week we slow down and to-do lists get put aside. we get out those long-lost treasures and rediscover them anew.  I sit while I get my ‘hair done’ with a hundred clips and hundreds more giggles. we’ve stopped it all to paint finger-nails and toe-nails, make momma’s special gluten free pumpkin muffins and know how blessed we are when friends swoop in and graciously take your little one so you can manage this all. we marvel at how our home looks when furniture leaves for a new home — leaving us with ample floor space to have visiting Gramma’s join you in play that’s so needed, so connective, so grounding. and then there’s this – this is how the week has unfolded in its truest form …

end of our summer days - ourtreknorth-wordpress-comso while we spend our last full day here at the old house, getting ready for the new house and first days of school, it’s that moment that I’m holding onto. the little one and her always loving, always patient fat-cat and their wonderfully strong bond. a moment of bare floors, of moving boxes and packing tape, of laughter and love — something that has always been in ample supply in this house all these years.

but, in the pit of my stomach is a knot that won’t leave – it’s part excitement and part momma-worry – that the leap we’re taking is a good leap. but it’s a leap that has to be taken – and it’s a leap that’s healing as it is allowing this little family to trust again that schools do ‘do right’ by every child and shouldn’t have to be an uphill battle for quality, no matter what skills you bring to the collective table. today, I’m grounding myself in the opening and closing of chapters and of doors, literal and figurative. saying hello while waving goodbye and always, always keeping our faces to the sunshine. 

on philosophies …

we had a chance to visit the new school earlier this week and I’m not sure who was more excited … and who was more a bundle of nerves and a wee bit of anxiety. school has been hard of late … hard academically, hard socially, hard to just navigate on many levels and this school visit seemed to have brought all those things to the surface for a little one.

walking in we’re greeted by a warm, smiling, jovial man … the school’s principal, he introduces himself to the little one with the warmth of a man who knows first-day jitters all too well. “you must be here to meet Ms D” he announces to me and my clinging one. “take a left at the bear and you’ll find her” are the instructions, along with a genuine “we’re glad you’re both here”.

so far, so good … this school has yet to disappoint in every interaction so I’m waiting for the other foot to drop. yes, I’m the ultimate optimist, a genuine pollyanna, but, sheesh!, who were these amazing people doing all sorts of really good things for the children in their care?!

then, right at the bear where we’re to turn, I see this big, proud display of the school’s philosophy — even hand calligraphed — speaking the words this school believes. and I stop, and I read as I hold the little one’s hand … and I get to the bottom and read this …

school-philosophy - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

it was this … this is where I stopped and stared for as long as the little one, waiting so patiently, would let her momma.

” … we must continually evaluate and improve techniques for meeting the dynamic needs of our children and ourselves”

I had to hold back tears.

genuine, heart-felt tears that what I’ve been asking for, for so long — to listen to and meet this child where she’s at — is right here. this school may not be perfect and I know there will be spots where we don’t see eye to eye. but I know this, they’re at least willing to listen. and they’re willing to collaborate and connect. and as I sigh, internally and audibly, I can also let so much of my own angst go and start to trust again in people, in connections and collaborations, and not ‘systems’ where the battle is uphill from the word go.

when I look to this little one and see her excitement that this school has a library (a real library that’s the physical center of the school), that her new first-grade teacher is warm and welcoming and so beautifully grounded and in-tune, that she’ll cook this year, and garden in the raised beds every classroom has outside their doors, that recess happens twice a day and she even gets to watch butterflies grow through a life-cycle like she did over here …  I have a feeling that wings will spread this year, butterflies and little ones alike.

standing {again} at the starting line

after over a year of trying to fit round pegs into square holes with our urban school district, homeschooling became the solution.

and while homeschooling is incredible and fulfilling and feels just so right in its amazing connective way, it is also a hard to juggle working full time and homeschooling … and attempting to do both isn’t the solution either.

come north, a family member said … keep working to support your family and use the really good small-town dedicated school district. join us where life is a little slower and a little easier and where cousins can play and grow without worry that seeing each other again happens only in some distant point in the future.

so, we’re packing boxes and bags and sorting and sifting though years of living in this wonderful urban home. we’re saying goodbye to what we’ve known for this period of our lives and heading to where there’s more trees than buildings, more open green spaces than concrete and so many stars at night … so, so many twinkling stars it’s amazing we’ve been missing all of them behind those city lights.

follow along … we’re a family who is full of adventures, found and created!