Although the days are still sunny and hot,
and the afternoons feature spectacular thunderheads building over the mountains, the mornings have been cool, foggy and misty in the Sandias. The sunflowers are blooming, and will soon become heavy with seed; the first harbingers of autumn wildflowers comes to us with mid-August.
This morning, I wore my 'hoodie,' on our morning constitutional--a sure sign of the approaching seasonal shift.
And this autumn is bringing changes to Los Pecos Homeschool.
Difficult and yet joyful changes, as our once small chicks take different steps towards leaving the nest.
The Chem Geek Princess is preparing to buy a townhouse in Albuquerque. She has already started her professional life as a chemist, starting paying her own health and car insurance, and acting like a responsible adult in many ways. Now, she will take that final step of moving out on her own, well-launched, if I do say so myself!
The Boychick has decided to attend high school. This decision was a full year in the making, and we did not take this step lightly. The decision was predicated on securing him a place in the freshman class of East Mountain High School, a small community charter high school. This school has a block schedule that reduces transitions, small class sizes, and a curriculum that includes many options in the natural sciences. The Boychick has gotten a place in the class of 2012, and yesterday we registered him for his classes.
It all started last fall, when the Boychick and I sat down to discuss his options for a high school education. These were: continue with homeschooling--which I was fully prepared to do--and add Central New Mexico Community College classes as needed, or try for a place at EMHS. There was no talk of returning to regular public schools in our area. The Albuquerque high schools are too big and far away for a homeschooled boy from the mountains, and the Moriarity school--we are technically in their district--is equally distant and does not have the academic emphasis we think is necessary. During our discussions, the Boychick floated the idea of going to school. My heart was heavy--I have invested quite a bit of my identity into being a homeschooler--but I heard him out objectively.
His reasoning was that he has developed confidence in his ability to learn, that his sister is moving out soon and our lives will change, and that there are certain subjects that he wants to learn in the company of friends; his friend A., for example, was planning to attend East Mountain. "Could we consider it?" he asked.
Yes, of course we could.
This spring, we entered Boychick's name in the lottery, and we attended both a parent meeting and a student open house. The school is indeed small and there is no possibility of Boychick becoming lost in "the system." The school has a reputation for academic excellence, parent involvement, and unique methods, such as discovery learning and project-based learning. These are all good for our young maverick mind .
Then, in March, we heard that the Boychick had not made the lottery and that he was placed on a waiting list. Part of me was sad for my boy's high hopes, but part of me was already planning our homeschooling alternatives. However, in April, the school called and told us that a place had opened up for the Boychick, and so the round of planning and placement began.
At his interview, the Boychick wowed the committee with the reading he was doing, and there was some discussion of re-testing him for special education and gifted services. I wrote a up report about his previous IEP--which has expired. Then, there were questions about his AS and whether we needed LD services. I was not so thrilled because of the confusion engendered. I know, I know--I am a special educator--but I am also a homeschool mom, and the 'officialness' of the paperwork and labels that follow our kids is intimidating.
Until registration, there was a little part of me that wondered how this might all work out.
Yesterday, the registration was a little chaotic--I forgot to remind the Boychick's advisor (who is new) to give him a Student Planner, there were no supplies lists available, and the question of special education was brought up. More confusion, because this new special education teacher did not know that the interviewing committee thought that Boychick should be placed in gifted humanities; she was focused on remediation--which I do not believe we need. She had no paperwork, and wanted "a clear copy of his current IEP." He does not have one. The last one written for him was at the end of grade 4, and does not in any way describe the Boychick as he is now. She brought up the idea of re-testing. I demurred, but there was no time for discussion. They found the report I had written but there was no time for us to talk intelligently.
I was ready to take my son home and prepare to continue homeschooling. It just felt safer.
But then my son talked to her for a moment or two so intelligently about his strengths and weaknesses, that I thought better of it. He does not want to be tested again. He does not care to be is placed in the gifted humanities. He has very specific goals for himself. And he wants to go to East Mountain High School.
Deep. Breath. Okay.
Today, I am trying to make an appointment with his advisor, the special education teacher, to convey our goals and desires in a private, quiet setting as much unlike registration as possible.
I am trying not to panic. I am trying not to imagine the Pink Floyd Movie "Another Brick in the Wall" scene.
This is a small, alternative high school. We can work this out. I. Will. Breathe.
I have to remind myself that we made a good, reasoned decision.
That we researched this thoroughly.
That it is always hard to let them go into the big, big world with their big, big selves!
That this is hard for me. For me, and not for him. I'm a Jewish mother, I worry!
The Boychick, on the other hand, is having a marvelous time.
He is saying what he thinks.
He is being heard.
I need to change my tune from "The Wall" to John Denver:
"Its a sweet, sweet dream--
Sometimes I'm almost there,
Sometimes I fly like an eagle...
like an eagle, I go soaring high..."
---John Denver, Looking for Space
That's the Boychick. He is flexing his wings.
He is looking for space.
And I must have the grace to send him forth into the big, big world with my blessing.