Like most things in my parenting experience, my kids going to school has been an entirely different experience than what I had anticipated. I loved school when I was a kid, too. I mean, I was a drama and music geek, graduated at the top of my class, and got a full-ride scholarship to college. So, naturally, I thought my kids would love school, too. I guess they kinda do, to varying degrees, but so far their school experiences have been totally unexpected. Almost all of the plans I made for my child's education have gone straight out the proverbial window, my friends, and in the hopes that you won't have to say the same, I might as well highlight the expectations I set for my kid's education that, well, never came to fruition.
I guess the main reason why reality hasn't met my expectations is, well, school is way different than it was when I was a kid. There's much more focus on tests, more homework, more mandatory "volunteer" opportunities for parents, and substantially more difficult coursework. I also learned that my kids aren't, you know, me, so they like different things and have different needs when it comes to being successful at school. And school has been a different experience for each of my kids, too, so what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.
Plus, I'm not the mother I thought I would be, either. I thought I was going to be the well-organized mom who volunteered for every school event, joined the Parent-Teacher Association, and maybe even ran for a seat on the School Board. Instead I'm a hot-mess mom with a job and who has to work my butt off to get my kids on the school bus and never remembers to send treats on the day I signed up for. So yeah, there are so many plans I had for my kids' education that have been squashed, and I'm surprisingly OK with it:
To Set Up College Funds
When my kids were born I set up a college savings account for each of them. I wanted to do the right thing and ensure that money was not a barrier to meeting their educational goals. Then the market tanked, we took a loss on the sale of our home, and I got divorced. Now I am just hoping that my kids get good enough grades to get scholarships or find some other way to fund college, because my partner and I? Yeah, we're broke AF. Yes we hope we can help, but we just aren't sure we will be able to.
To Join The PTA
Yeah, I learned on my daughter's first day of Kindergarten that I am so not PTA material. The moms on her school's PTA were all wealthy stay-at-home parents who could attend meetings during the day and afford to spend a ton of time volunteering for events and raising money for projects. I was a single mom at the time, had a full-time job, and, honestly, didn't fit in.
For Them To Attend The Best Preschool
My daughter started at the best University-sponsored preschool in town, but they kept raising their rates until it was totally not financially accessible for our family. We spent more for two kids to attend that school than we did for our monthly mortgage. In other words, my partner and I just couldn't afford it.
That They Would Love School
Yeah, I totally wasn't expecting my kids to drag their feet when it was time to go to school, but if I had a dollar for every day I literally had to drag them out of bed or heard "But I don't wanna go to school!" I would have a great start on those college funds.
That Their Teachers Would Love Me
My partner and I have endured quite a few challenges with teachers over the years, especially with my youngest daughter's teachers. She has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety that makes it really difficult for her to achieve success without a lot of understanding and a little extra help from her teachers. As her parents we've had to seriously advocate for her to get her help, and we don't hesitate to go to bat for all of our kids when they need us to.
In the end, the experience has honestly made us consider homeschooling her. I never expected that.
To Help Them With Homework Every Night
I freaking hate helping my kids with their homework. Not only is it sort of like performing invasive dental work to get them to do it in the first place, but it's way to challenging (yes, even for me) and they have way too much of it. I mean, I sort of get why they don't like doing it. Lucky for me, my husband loves helping kids with homework. Score.
That They Would Get Straight A's
I know my kids are brilliant (each in their own way), but it's taken a bit of time for me to realize that having smart kids doesn't necessarily mean that they will do well at school. I never thought I would say this, but grades don't matter as much as I thought they did when I was a kid, and it's totally acceptable to not get perfect grades as long as you do your own personal best. So, as long as my kids try their hardest, I don't really place much stock in the grades they receive.
That They Would Follow All The Rules
When I was in school I was totally a rule follower. But as a parent, I've learned that my kids don't have to follow all of the rules. My partner and I respect our kids as individuals, including their right to bodily autonomy and to choose their own hairstyle, clothes, and/or personal style without interference. We don't do gender roles or body shaming in our house, and we ignore sexist school dress codes. So when my preschooler was sent home with a note for wearing a skirt without shorts, I gave the administration a piece of my mind.
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