Yesterday, I made a difficult decision: I pulled Ethan out of Pre-K. It was one of those difficult decisions that I had to make above Ethan and his input, which is so out of the realm of how I parent that I swear it physically ached. From his first day of school onward, I felt a feeling of dread and worry in my stomach that I tried to convince myself was normal to feel as an attached parent who had never been away from their child. While Ethan would come home having enjoyed the school experience -- he loves being part of a class -- there were concerns that I felt were legitimate and not just because it can be argued that I'm a helicopter parent. Eventually, he began to ask us questions that made it apparent his masculinity was being challenged (at age five, mind you) and these little insecurities began to fester in a way that led me to question if he was truly happy at school. He loved the idea of school, and he loved the friend he had made, and he loved the teacher and following directions and creating projects that he got to take home -- but he didn't love the chaos. Or the yelling. Or the boys who would begin simulating wrestling moves during math center while the teacher struggled to regain control of the environment. He didn't like the way some of the children would physically hit the others while the poor teacher struggled to finish reading a story. I listened intently to the input of friends that these situations are hard to avoid at this age and I looked at my friend's children's preschool photos on social media while comparing how vastly different they seemed from Ethan's experience. Something didn't sit right, however, and as I dropped him off on that last day and watched two little boys scream in his face while chaos ensued and the teachers struggled to understand why a child who wasn't in that class was dropped off there in that class, I walked to my car and sobbed. I buckled Carmen into her seat and drove us over to a small Montessori school that I had heard wonderful things about. As I sat and observed the classroom, I knew this was a better environment for Ethan.
I then went back to his school and told them it was his last day. This was difficult for me. The teacher -- oh, how my heart goes out to her -- helped me collect Ethan's art from around the classroom and place it in his backpack. I watched as he played on the rug with the friend he made and felt the lump rise in my throat as he innocently smiled at me, not knowing it was to be his last day. When I told him, there were tears. He didn't want to leave school and his initial assumption was that he had done something wrong to cause his removal. We toured his new school and I feel like that helped -- except for the fact that his new school won't have availability until January.
I am wearing cinderblocks made of guilt tied to my ankles while knowing that it was the right choice to make. Sometimes the right choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes they hurt. At nine o'clock at night, Ethan and I ate cold pizza in bed and hugged and talked about how some shoes fit better than others, even if we really like the way the shoes that are too small look.
This morning he woke up as a homeschooler again, and while most of the sadness subsided, there is still a little bit of nostalgia lingering. He misses his teacher and having assignments to complete at home to share with her. He misses being part of a class. This morning, we sank into our homeschool lessons while Carmen napped and everything fit as it used to. He was overjoyed to have his homeschool activities resume -- but the fit was still a little snug. He will be outgrowing it all as he once did already, waiting to spread his wings and try on a school that will hopefully be a better fit.
This morning, I told the barista at Starbucks that I don't know what I'm doing, and she assured me most moms don't. We are led by our need to always follow the best interest of our child. That I can do, even if it's not what makes sense to other parents of other children who aren't my own. This is our time to enjoy our family and homeschool and traveling and the holidays and then give a new school another try to be the place where the pieces fit better than they did the first time.