It’s back to school and most Woodbury parents are breathing a collective sigh: the return to routine.
For some parents, it’s an agonizing day of, is my child going to be OK? Will she make new friends? Will the teachers understand that little Toby has to sharpen his pencil each time he writes a capital letter? Could my son’s dorm room have bed bugs?
Every year of big change can bring about fatalistic pondering. Wondering, did I make the right choice for my child?
Choice is supposed to be a good thing. It’s what we love about grocery stores, shopping malls and cable news channels.
But choice, when it comes to education, can seem daunting.
I remember excruciating deliberations about whether to choose public school or private school, all-day kindergarten or half-day, language immersion or home school.
I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid and my mom put me on the bus, she had no idea where I ended up. There was only one choice. She didn’t lament boundaries or start times. She probably received a letter and a map marked with a big red X for the bus stop. At the appointed time, she directed me to the gaggle of kids loitering on a street corner and then she went home to do whatever it was she did until I returned.
I’m not suggesting parents shouldn’t contemplate which educational opportunity might work best for their progeny. A one-size-fits-all scholastic model short changes kids who might best thrive in certain sized classrooms at certain times of the day while humming Neil Diamond songs. I’m just saying, relax.
The best advice I’ve received was from a seasoned parent when I was wringing my hands over where to send my oldest to kindergarten. She said, “Take it one year at a time.” The choices you make this year don’t necessary obligate you to continue on that particular path for the duration of your youngster’s education. Another beauty of choice. The opportunity to change your mind.
That bit of reassurance helped me heave a huge sigh of relief. Knowing that I’m probably not ruining my child long term helps me get through the first day of school. Then through a few weeks. Before long, we’re through an entire year. Everybody a bit wiser.
As my eldest approaches high school, I’m at it again. Wondering if the big local school is the best fit or if I should investigate schlepping him across town to a smaller, private high school. I’ll surely ruminate choices once again when those college application days roll around.
But knowing that choosing a school isn’t necessarily as obligatory as choosing a spouse or a tattoo should make the process a bit less nerve wracking.
So stop worrying. Class schedules, dorm rooms, skinny jeans and bangs are not permanent decisions. Weigh your choices carefully then make the best of it until next year. You know your kid and chances are you’ve made a good choice.