18 November 2013

public school ruined me

i took an 18 year hiatus from public school. it's not like i planned it that way. i mean i attended public school k-12 growing up. i did my student teaching in public school. and then just like that. i left. 

this past year i returned, but this time to enroll my 14 year old son and his younger brother. it felt timely. it felt exciting. it felt. daunting. not for the reasons you may imagine. 

you see for the passed 10 years i've homeschooled my boys. when they decided it was time to not be homeschooled, the first and only option that i seriously considered was public school. and i took that decision to heart with as much vim and vigor as i did when we decided to school our boys at home. 

community is what led us to homeschool. community is what led us to public school. and i have to tell you, this has been one community-filled first year. brother-keeping-brother kind of year. it has been my undoing and my making. i have wept and wailed and wondered more these past 3 months than i have perhaps their entire lives. maybe it's because they are in such challenging life stages {teething has nothing on teenager-hood, i am so sorry to say, sweet mamas}. or maybe it's because, damn, we are in a really ridiculously good/hard/lean-not-on-your-own-understanding kind of place. regardless, we are here. in public school. i have seen hard places in my boys' hearts soften and soft places in their burgeoning manhood harden. and it's been good.

we are availing ourselves to hearing stories that are so full of hope and promise that i want to shine my shoes and dance a jig. and we are walking into places so wrought with brokenness that it makes me wonder how some people can even put one foot in front of another. 

this morning as i was hanging up my clothes, looking through my closet for some coats that would fit the dress code for donating to a local school, i said aloud, "i am ruined. i will never be the same." 

and it's true. i am ruined. but not in the way you may think. i am ruined into thinking that i can just bebop my way through life and forget that there is a mother who just buried her son after he hung himself. 

i am ruined by the testimony given at the local school board meeting last week. a sincere mother commending the merits of her local elementary school that she adores, but that does not come highly recommended by any of my friends and even some of the teachers who work there. 

i am ruined by all the falling short i feel when i cannot wave my magic wand to convince the neighbors that these neighborhood schools are worth it. worth staying in the neighborhood for. worth fighting for. worth sending their children to. 

i am ruined when i see how fiercely devoted the principals and teachers are to their students. going to bat for them over and over. working way, WAY beyond their pay grade because they sincerely care more about their students' character than they do their own paycheck. 

i am ruined when i hear my 14 year old say, "it was so great seeing my friends today at school." my reluctantly outgoing boy who is a newly minted ambassador for his high school. a school that i was warned about. a school that was ONCE {but no longer} one of the 10 most dangerous schools in america. a school we almost missed the chance to get to know. a school that our elected school board member has yet to visit. a school where the principals know the students by name.

public school ruined me. it opened me up to a world wrought with so much. challenges. victories. hopefulness. hells. as well as havens. i am not the same. and you know what? i am better. 


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