I've sent my baby girl to school. (I have been working on a blog post about sending kids to school, but it does not seem to get materialized). She has been going for a week. This is my six-year-old, my ideal homeschool candidate, the child whom I've been dreaming about homeschooling because she was easy, eager to learn, eager to please. There was just one big hole in my plan: she wanted to be with other girls her age more than anything else. And she had this perfect dream about school. So I've sent her.
Since sending her, I have been driving her and her brother every morning and picking them up every afternoon. It is December, so most other parents have worked out their carpool routine months ago. First I had 10 year old in one carpool, then, when we moved, a friend found another parent who drove for me. But she only had one spot, so with two kids in school, all of a sudden I had to be driving. But I still have two small ones at home, two kids who take naps and do not need to wake up at 6 am to do this drop-off and pick up.
On Friday, I asked 10 year old time and again what time is early dismissal and he confidently assured me that it is at 2:30. I got a phone call while I was driving at 2:15 that the dismissal was at 2 and the teachers need to get home to get ready for shabbos. I felt horrible and very embarrassed. I even offered for my kids to sit on the bench in front of the school, as I was on my way, but I could not make traffic move any faster. Today, Monday morning, I hustled and hustled everyone to get out the door at 7:20 so I would have plenty of time to drop off 10 yo at shul for his minyan with the classmates and then get 6 yo to her school. I ended up dropping off 10 yo at 7:45. It was freezing. I told him to go inside, not stay in the cold for 15 minutes. Then I drove my daughter. I got her to school at 7:54 and hustled her out the car. As I watched her walk to school, alone, I sighed about this little first grader. Then she pulled on the door. Locked. She banged. Locked. Teachers were walking inside, bustling, getting ready. I saw them. She saw them. She pulled and banged. And I remembered an e-mail from months ago asking parents not to drop off kids before 8, as the teachers needed to get ready for their day. I sort of ignored it at the time, as I was not the one driving in the morning. So there we were, my little kid standing in the cold, knocking, and adults whom she was supposed to be trusting, asserting their rights to five minutes of quiet before the kids entered. I realized that other parents sat in their cars in the parking lot, keeping their kids warm. I just did not notice it before, being so excited to get her somewhere on time and even early. (Till fairly recently, she did not know the definition of early, as were always late).
And then the tears came. Homeschooling was not going smoothly for her because I do not have a gaggle of girls her age up my sleeve. She was not reading and I had little time to read to her. We were butting heads. It was easier to send her to school. But now I have a kid who has to get up and get dressed and have breakfast and put up her hair and run to the car in the morning to be left in the cold banging on the doors of her school. She is a fairly early riser, but she likes to chill, lounge in her pajamas, snuggle on the couch, have a good morning story. She likes to have her breakfast late. I traded one set of things that are not working for another.
I am not blaming the school for their policy. I am blaming myself for not remembering what that policy was. With so many kids doing so many different things, it is very hard to remember every single detail. It was easier to keep them at home, minimize those external rules and regulations to abide by, but it was not working. So now we will be "those" parents", the ones who are chronically late, and chronically bending the rules.