Today was the last day of school for my boys. I sat in the pick up lane, waiting for them to come out of the school, and I watched. I looked through the sea of smiling faces and found the top of a pair of crutches. There's my boys.
They lingered before they came down to the car. High fives were exchanged. Email numbers were scribbled on scraps of construction paper. Goodbyes were said, and summer began.
My oldest limped his way into the front seat, and the smile left his face. "Mom, I cannot wait for September."
I remember that same feeling. I loved school. I was an academic. My oldest is, too, and the thought of taking that away from him pains me. My youngest, Mr Punching Bag, got into the car and I asked how his last day was. I got the same response I've gotten all year, "Oh, you know, it was kinda boring, but now I feel like a 3rd grader, so that's cool."
Not thank god that shit is over, not why'd you make me go back there woman, just meh.
We came home and I sorted through their papers. 1of3 finally made honor roll. 2of3's report card had glowing remarks of 'progress' and 'above grade level' and 'what a joy'. And then I got to thinking about the good stuff that happened this year.
1of3 joined choir, track, cross country and leadership council. The award for citizenship he received yesterday at the awards ceremony held seven different stickers for excellence in citizenship, and with glowing, beaming pride, his teacher informed me that he had more than any other 4th grader. By a lot. He volunteered in class to help the new student who didn't speak much English follow along. He was a lunchtime monitor and reading buddy to a kindergarten classroom, and said goodbye to "his kids" with tears in his eyes.
2of3 had a harder time. He made friends slowly, and isn't the world's best Attention Payer, so he had a bit more acclimation to do in class. His teacher noticed that he was constantly folding his papers rather than doing the work assigned on them, and asked if he's ever tried origami. She went out and, out of her own pocket, purchased him a small origami kit. She then designated every Friday noon to be 2of3's time to teach the classroom some origami. She found his strength and interest, encouraged it and scheduled it. Once a month, she sent him home with a little note thanking him for making her laugh, or teaching her how to make paper frogs, or for drawing her a great picture. My son was completely validated all year long by someone outside of my home, someone in no way responsible for doing so. He LOVES that woman.
Both of my sons speak a little French now. Both of them can explain to me what the hell a kilometer is (not that I can remember it, mind you). Both of them now worship Terry Fox. Because of school, they've learned how to ride a city bus, learned how to handle themselves in a corner store on their way home to buy a treat, have planted trees, volunteered and donated to charity, and made friends that don't live right by us, people they wouldn't have met otherwise.
Would all those things happen if I homeschooled them? Most likely, yes. But at school, they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. They aren't just listening to me rattling off more crap to them; they have teachers that they look up to and respect and want to work hard to please. They have a social network well beyond what I have, one that is diverse and colorful.
At school, they have themselves. They get to be who they are, not who they think I want them to be.
I don't want to take that from them. I don't want 2of3 to miss out on another teacher discovering how totally fucking awesome he is. I don't want 1of3 to miss out on next years' kindergarten class. And dear god in heaven, don't want them to miss out on grade 7, because the grade 7 teacher who didn't make eye contact with one other parent yesterday at the awards ceremony but waved me down half-way through it, the one who patted my shoulder in the hall and said, "See you next Christmas; you know you're helping out in my classroom again," well, he's so freaking unbelievably hot it makes me stutter. Like, so hot it makes stuff tingle. And if we can just get through 4 more years, I will have had 2 school years to "help out in the classroom."
Which would be totally awesome.