Monday, August 20, 2007


We have had some small experience with starting new schools in this family. While waiting in the advisor's office during one of the Four Days Of Registration Fun we counted up and realized that Child 3 has attended seven different schools, Child 2 has managed 8 and Child 1 beats them both with 9.

There have been good transitions - we went from a quite good school to a superb school in Alaska for example - and less good transitions (going from Alpenglow's brand new play structure, sledding hill and ice skating rink to Nelson Elementary's single chin up bar and broken swings. That was fun). The worst naturally was moving from California back here.

It would have been horrible anyway; we were all leaving well loved friends and a small, warm community under the very worst circumstances. But the school they would be going to was dreadful. I knew it was dreadful - I had gone there myself and it had not gotten any better - and for a while I tried to believe that we wouldn't be here for long, that Kirk would be found and we would be able to go home again, so the kids could be home-schooled for just a few weeks. Weeks of course became months and there was no choice but to register them.

It was hard - one of a long list of things I didn't think I could bear to do, but there was no choice for any of us and so we went through the tedious and ridiculous process of proving they were all gifted (lumped in this school in with all the special learning kids so they were, as I was, labeled "special needs") hoping that this would at least put them in some better classes. They did their best. They went every day, grimly sometimes but bravely. They learned first hand about prejudice and bias (as I was, they were a 6% ethnic minority) which I hope will be a constant reminder to them about not judging people on appearance. They also unfortunately learned that as bright kids in a struggling school they could get full credit simply by handing in an assignment - never mind doing their best work (or even doing it on time). Child 3 was shocked, on attending a different school, to discover that month-late assignments aren't normally accepted for full marks.

This is a long way of saying that we were all, particularly Child 2 and me, more than a little anxious about this yet-another new school. When they came back after the first day with mostly positive stories to tell I realized how incredibly tense I had been - how my guilt over everything, the multiple schools, all of the unhappiness and distress had been twisted up so tightly I could hardly breath.

So. Child 3 has found a set of people to play soccer with at lunch. It loves its Survival class, thinks its biology teacher speaks too quietly but is otherwise okay, finds its English teacher amusing and is happily confident that math will be no problem at all. Child 1 is still hoping to find some congenial people to eat lunch with, but has a temporary arrangement that makes it happy. It has signed up for a 7th hour and it is charmed to realize that one of its set books for the semester is not only not deeply depressing, it is also an entertaining read. And Child 2? Child 2 whose shyness and tension sometimes expresses itself in a scowl that looks unfriendly and angry but is really nervousness; Child 2 who of all of the Children answered my questions about how it felt about starting another new school with a brief, tight "It'll be alright" - Child 2 approached a couple of strangers all on its own and started a conversation. Child 2 found not one or two but a laughing, boisterous crowd of 20 who like the same music, watch the same movies and quote the same ridiculous lines. Child 2 went to a sleep-over birthday party this weekend and met even more friends. Child 2 is happy.

And so am I.

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