Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dearly, Alas

Last week, EJ decided to send a letter to her old class at public school. She got an envelope, pulled out her old yearbook from her memorabilia box, looked up the school address, and started making out note cards for all of the kids. I left her to her own devices, and told her to call me when she needed a stamp.

Because it is a magnet classroom, 90% of the kids are the same year-to-year, which means that, when EJ left this year, she was leaving a room of kids with whom she had spent most of her time for four straight years. She likes her new school, likes the new kids, etc., but obviously misses her old environment, too. I'd be shocked if she didn't.

Today, as I was doing a little straightening before guests came over, I found this on her craft table.

Drama much? Dearly. Alas. GULP.

When I think about the transition from public school to democratic free school, I don't worry that it was the wrong choice. The reduction in the stress level in our home, the increase in our child's overall curiosity and creativity, and the positive feelings being (re)fostered about learning are worth all the emotional stuff that comes with making a big change. Still though, the guilt with this...the guilt is strong.

It isn't simple though, this nostalgic reaction to change. Case in point: EJ is still attending Girl Scouts with her old school troop, and loves getting to have a visit at her old stomping grounds a couple of times a month. When I asked her after her last meeting if she had fun hanging out with her old classmates, she said, "Actually, I spend most of my time with a new girl from another class, she's really nice."

That's right: when placed in an environment specifically to allow her to easily retain the long-lasting friends she dearly misses (her words), she feels secure enough to hang out with a girl she's just met this year, instead.

I remember when parents of older kids would look at me with my non-stop toddler and say, "It gets harder," and I'd just sigh and think, "Oh, goodness, please don't warn me of something I can't stop, anyway, I'm already so exhausted and I can never sit down. Are you even watching this toddler siphon off my last bit of energy?" Every year, I watch the non-stop action go more and more internal, and while I don't have to chase her all over anymore, I certainly can't follow all the action as easily as I could keep my kid safe via monitors and baby gates.

And yes, I know, it gets even harder, still. Let's just hope I still find little notes occasionally to keep me in the loop.

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