Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our Big Yellow Bus Moment

I am seeing lots of pictures on facebook right now of friends' kids heading off to their first day of school for the year, and I have quite a few friends who are sending their little guys and gals off to their VERY first day of school for kindergarten.
I remember the excitement of starting school.  Dressing up in new clothes for school, posing for cheesy pictures, and riding the school bus.  I only rode the school bus one way because we still had half-day kindergarten back in the day, but I am from a very small Midwestern town where one school (though not one room, contrary to my husband's jokes) housed all the grades K through 12, so I stepped onto that big yellow school bus with high-school kids that first day.
I have a son starting kindergarten this year, but it's different for him.  There won't be a big yellow bus; he'll just walk upstairs, and we'll begin.  I am so thankful for this homeschooling journey, but as I see my friends' photos, I can't help but feel like he's missing out on something.

Something big.

He won't know about recess or cafeterias or clubs (both the kind organized by the school and the kind you make up with friends).
Yet, as I sit here and really think about those school days for me, there were also a lot of big disappointments.  I loved learning.  Still do.  But, if I'm honest, even with a host of really incredible teachers and a really great school, I really didn't like school.  I felt like I should because I excelled in school.  But, the truth is that I didn't.  I had some down-right painful years, like first grade when my teacher told me I wasn't old enough to read chapter books yet and would not allow me to bring my beloved Beverly Cleary cooks to class.
I had some amazing teachers as well and some wonderful memories, and I know that for as long as we are on this homeschool journey, we will need to work hard for the boys to have the opportunities they need to grow socially and participate in things like sports or other group activities and even learn to interact well with other adults.
But, I am also thankful to be able to give my sons things that I missed out on in my educational experience--freedom to explore and continue to love learning and discovering, freedom to finish work for the day and have plenty of time left to just play and be a kid, and freedom from the pressure to fit a specific mold of learning.

So, yes, there are things that he will miss out on, and there are amazing things he will gain, but what I don't want to miss is that no matter the form it takes, this season is significant.  We won't have the external things to mark those.  There is no yellow school bus to usher him into this season, but I don't want to let it go by without markers of our own.  We'll figure out what those are.  We can still take pictures and have special breakfast and wear special clothes.  Heck, one of the advantages of homeschool is that he can even wear his full Superman suit, if he wants to!

But, beyond the physical markers, I need to mark this time in my mind and my heart.  He won't have that step of independence of waving goodbye to me as I try not to cry, and as much as I'm glad to avoid that on some level, I know it is significant.  I am glad for the opportunity for my boys to not have to grow up quite so fast as kids often do in just the mass of hard things they are exposed to and expected to do at such a young age, but we aren't homeschooling to shelter him from things.  It is what fits our circumstances and life right now, and it's a blessing, but I don't want to somehow cling too tightly just because I don't have to send him physically away for this step.  The past few days, Isaiah has come out from midday quiet time and practically run out the door to ride his bicycle around our little neighborhood.  It is very new for him to enthusiastically dash off to do something without asking for me to come with him.  It's not the same as sending him off on that big bus, but I feel that mixed wonderful, joyful aching in my heart.  And, yesterday, as I watch him run out the door, this little boy who has suddenly come into a new confidence and independence, I stopped to mark this moment in my heart, to wave goodbye to the, in our case metaphorical, school bus and try to bravely smile through some tears.  Even though he'll be right next to me most days, I'll try to learn what it means to let go and let him grow and say goodbye to my little guy who has disappeared into this growing boy.


  1. So much to ponder. The boys are changing so quickly. Thank you for sharing.

  2. How did I not know about this blog before now!? I loved reading your thoughtful writing. I know what you mean about marking moments in your heart and mind. I sent two of my off on the big yellow bus this morning. Even though I don't think I have what it takes to do homeschool well (I nearly lost my mind the last week before school started) I do envy being able to teach to their interests/what I want them to learn while still having time to be a kids. Sounds like you (still) have your head screwed on straight! :)
    Blessings on your school year!