Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bloom Where You're Planted

People are funny.
A couple of months ago a friend told me she might be moving into my neighborhood. When I expressed delight, she responded, "Yeah, we love the neighborhood, but we would never send our kids to your public school."
Last week I was in a coffee shop bent over my laptop when another friend approached me. She asked (directly, not making small talk) if I was happy with our public school.
I said,"It's really good. You know, there are so many good choices for schools, it's been a difficult decision for us, but we're really pleased with it at this point." I added that one of our favorite things about public school is getting to know the families in our neighborhood and how great they are.
She said, "Oh, see, I have never felt comfortable around those moms. They put on airs about having it all together and baking cookies from scratch..." (?) "I just want to tell them that I just like to take my kids to the park, that's what we do."
I was at a total loss.
I tried a couple of times to lighten the conversation (without sympathizing with her stereotypes) but it didn't work. For some reason she needed to communicate her lack of approval for the moms at our public school. I don't know who she's close to at our school, or what situations have defined her impressions. This is a darling friend who doesn't even live in our neighborhood, and seems to love the private school her children attend. I was quite taken back with her apparent dislike of the families at our school. And even more so that she felt like she needed to tell me!
So... this is not a pro-public school post.
If you're even remotely close to Corbin and me, you've heard me banter the pros and cons of nearly every school in Tarrant County. I have attended more "welcome to our school" coffees than I would care to count. I have literally taken several different moms to lunch just to hear their take on school choices. It has been a huge decision for Corbin and me. We've already done private (and were thrilled with it), and we've been in public for nearly two years now. We've researched traditional private schools, classical schools, and university model schools. We've looked into home schooling.
Most of my closest friends don't send their kids to public schools. I have a yellow legal pad in my desk drawer filled with notes and brainstorming "pros and cons" thoughts comparing schools in three categories: public, private and home school. And you know what? The lists are all about the same length.
For many reasons Corbin and I feel like our family is in the right school at this point. We have sensed affirmation from the Lord, from each other and from our kids. We are also aware that we have the freedom at any point, with the Lord's leading, to change directions with school, and we're taking it one year (one child, one semester) at a time.
I've considered posting about school since I started this blog, but quite honestly, it's been too sensitive a subject.
The point of this post, as I mentioned earlier, is not to promote public school. The point is to encourage you to consider your options, seek the Lord, and find the place that's best for you, then simply BLOOM WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED.
Even if you question it, or second-guess your decisions, or doubt your choice at times... you can always pick another garden. But in the meantime, ENJOY where you are in regards to school.
And don't worry about what friends might say. They really are friends (for the most part) and don't have a clue that you might be sensitive to someone dogging your school. OK, just kidding. Sorta.
A few thoughts if you're tackling this not-so-easy school decision:

1. If you're looking at kindergarten for your oldest and the rest of your kids are preschool age, only think about your oldest, and only think about this first year. It's not the end of the world to change schools later. It'll take pressure off if you don't have to think about this as a "twelve-year" decision.
2. Take one year at a time. Or one semester at a time.
3. Quit comparing yourself to other families (sound like I'm speaking from experience?)
4. Don't act like an expert if you're not.
5. School is not one-size-fits-all. Especially for Christian families. Your choice will totally depend on where you live and what schools are available to you, financially and otherwise.
6. Know that your school choice doesn't define you. I guarantee my home school friends break the stereotype, and I bet yours do, too. And I sure hope to break a stereotype of public school - especially if it's as terrible as my friend thinks! (I don't often bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch - that would be my friend who home schools, Sarah)

Ok, no more of the heavy.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Here's to hoping we can seize the opportunity to enjoy our precious little ones and bloom where we're planted!