By the time you read this, my whole world will have been flipped upside down, and I may very well be staring out my front window in complete denial that this is my life. It is this time of the year that brings about some of the greatest anxiety, stress, guilt and sadness. It is this time of year that is three months in the making, and I dread every single day leading up to it.
That's right. Summer vacation is over, and my kids are back in school.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love that there are places made for children to learn new knowledge from great teachers and cultivate new and old friendships. I am grateful for education, and give credit to it for a lot of what I know, and how I am today. And as a former educator and the wife of a teacher, it is the hand that feeds.
However, as a parent of several school-age children, I see the education system in a different light, and not because it has changed since I was in school. In fact, probably because it hasn't changed a bit since I graduated. The days are still long. The homework is still unnecessary. And the learning, while good, could be better and more concise.
Naysayers will nay-say, and tell me to get out of the system if I don't like it. To them, I will say that I am not just a complainer with no action behind my words.
I have home-schooled my children. I have done hybrid options, trying to get the best of both worlds. I have done my best to help out in the classroom, or volunteer my time at home to make classroom time smoother. I have done all I can to make sure that my kids are good at school to make the job easier on teachers and not disrupt the learning of others — all while trying my darndest not to let school get in the way of home life.
I have lived life out of the system, and I currently have my children in the system because I have realized that there is one thing for certain: Whether in or out of the system, the system still exists well beyond graduation.
If I want my kids to survive in our society, they must understand the system. They must know how to answer to superiors who are not their parents. They must learn to get along with people they don't like, and decide for themselves right vs. wrong without mom there. They need to learn time management even during a day sometimes filled with wasted time. They need to try new things, and that sometimes includes bad food — and yes, a warm PB&J that mom made still qualifies under that category.
But if I want my children to thrive not only in society, but in life, I need to be able to be a mom when they are home. I need my children to be allowed to turn in their time card before they leave the classroom, and come home after a day well-done. I need to be able to have time to teach my kids how to cook, clean and take time for themselves. I need them to be involved in other activities without the constant fear of getting high grades. I need to be able to read with my kids because I want to, and not because it is required. I need to be allowed to pick my children up from school when I feel like we need a break and feel no guilt for doing so.
I need my kids to be kids, and my family to be a family.
I have no doubt that for the first few days of school I will stare out my window, anxiously awaiting my children's return home, while mourning the loss of a summer vacation. But I will also be thinking of the bright future that I know is in store for each of them, despite the downfalls of the education system and my own downfalls as their mom.
And together we will make it through — until next summer vacation that can't come soon enough.