...or so I imagine it will be. The Meister started school yesterday. She came skipping home having had a nice day so I am a bit relieved. In the end, it was a bit of a non-event. She went off in the rain, got a lift to school with a neighbourhood friend, and forgot to say good-bye to us all. For her it is just one more thing she wants to try, for us, it is bigger than that, because none of the kids have been to school.
It was really sad when she was 7 and wanted to go. She lasted a week then, as she didn't really know what it was she was letting herself in for. But this time she seems to have made an informed decision, and is prepared to take things as they come. There have already been a few things that strike me as odd, but are perfectly normal for everybody else.
Home-school contracts. I was given one, but haven't signed it, and don't intend to. But not a problem, as nobody has asked me for it. :-)
Music lessons. It is a performing arts college, and the prospectus is full of photos of kids playing music. But if she wants lessons, we have to pay extra. £200-£300 a year extra, which you have to commit to pay.
The uniform. I don't even want to think about how much money we have spent on the damn uniform! And why does there have to be a separate black jumper for general wear (v-neck) and PE (crew neck) which both have to have the school logo.
There is a cash less cafeteria which is operated using fingerprint technology, to which I objected. So she has a swipe card instead, which I have to put money on. (This school adventure is much more expensive than home ed!) And the head of year says I am not the only one to object. They rather took it in their stride and didn't seem bothered at all. :-)
I can't help but think she is going to be fine; that school is not the big evil some of us would believe; that there are perfectly nice kids and adults there.
I guess it is like anything, there are going to be good things and bad things about it. We had a talk a while ago about how she was fed up with home ed friends ribbing her about choosing to go. I tried to be diplomatic. I told her to think of it as a balance. There will be good things, and bad things, and as long as the good things outweigh the bad, she will probably want to stay. But she has the choice to come out again. (After she gets some use from the damn expensive uniform!) And that is the crux of it, isn't it. It is all about choice. This is her choice.
But I still find myself wanting to talk about how this is for me. It is because in December, I was helping the Changeling with her personal statement for her UCAS form to apply to university for next September. And I was helping the Boy with his application to start college in September. And I was applying to the LA for a school place for the Meister. So it felt like I was losing three of them at once.
That was sad for a few reasons. Not the least of which is that I has always planned on this time with the Meister. I had always thought that her teen years would be the time that I got to do all the things with her, that I hadn't been able to do with the older ones because there were just too many of them. She was going to be the one to get one on one time, like we had started with the sewing and cooking. I was going to finally do the English group I had wanted to do. We were going to have a mature time together.
But instead, I have a toddler, and we are really struggling financially so we can't do much anyway, and she wants to have her own life, like her 17 and 21 year old sisters do. All of which I understand. But I still feel a bit sad, that I haven't been able to provide her with what she wanted, and she feels that school will provide it.
I think the fact that EO (for us anyway) all fell apart, and we don't
have a national network like we used to hasn't helped either. There are
no more gatherings and camps that we can go to regularly to keep in
touch with friends from all over the UK. We used to go to 5 or 6 camps
and gatherings a year. The kids used to travel at other times to visit
friends in other cities. There was a community. The older two had a completely different experience of home education that my younger children have had, and that the Babe will have. I don't feel a part of a home ed community in the way that I used to.
That isn't to say that I haven't got great home ed friends. Just that the world I inhabit feels smaller, and where as I used to know that I was a part of something bigger, which included EO. But now, I am just coasting along, sometimes going to home ed events, sometimes not. Sometimes finding community in other areas. Thinking I have to build up a new toddler network, when I was ready for the menopause conversations, rather than the lactating ones.
So basically, the Meister going to school is really just part of a whole other focus for me. It is my life that is changing without me trying to change it. It is me who is going to have to think about what to do next. Do I get a job? Do I return to studying? Do I carry on, and start over with doing toddler things? 2012 will be a year of change for me.
And I will have a few things to blog about. What it is like to have a high school child. What it is like to home ed all over again. And what it is like letting go of those who are leaving the nest. Or who already have.
So here we go...