a few habit forming years*

Clark is doing the preschool thing this year and it is kind of freaking me out.

Although I was a gifted-program-try-hard-work-hard sort of student, I hated school.

Hated it.

In high school I dreaded every day.

I hated the way I had to ask for permission to go to the bathroom and that sometimes, the teachers said no.
I hated the way I had to run, literally, from one class to another because the passing periods weren't long enough to get there on time if moving at a regular speed.
I hated forgetting my gym uniform.
I hated being graded on how well I could serve a volleyball.
I hated taking standardized tests at 7:15 in the morning, when I could barely peel my eyes open.
I hated math class.  Oh my gosh-- how I hated math class.  

I hated the sign-in sheets and the "NO PARKING in the East lot!" and the way they locked all of the doors when the bell rang so I had to walk to the unlocked front door if I was late.  I hated that the unlocked front door was really far away and sometimes it was snowing and icy and my fingers were numb and my feet nearly slipped out from under me as I trekked over there in the dark carrying 75 pounds of books on my back and an oversized poster board covered in information about Ayn Rand in my hand.  I hated that three official "tardys" landed me in Friday School, which was basically in-school suspension, and that I had to stare at a wall the entire time.  Making eye contact with other students was not allowed in Friday School.  Making eye contact in Friday School got you more Friday School.

The day I graduated from High School was one of the best days of my life.  I remember skipping and running from Conseco Fieldhouse after the cap and gown ceremony, holding hands with my best friends and lit up with a glowy feeling of freedom I had never felt before.  I remember shouting, "I NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK!" somewhat manically. I was aching to get away from it all and never look back.  (I did force myself to go to college that Fall, but quit after two disastrous years and got married--  another story for another day.)

What I am trying to say if I could just get to the point already?  I am not ready to get back into a serious relationship with a school system.  I have been sweeping all thoughts of my kids starting school into a tidy little pile in the back in my brain.   I know it is just preschool, I know, I know I am over-thinking things.  But school is school, and I am already intimidated by the volunteer requests and the forms and deadlines and the fact that they charge you a $10 fine if you are late to pick up your kid.  It makes my heart beat faster.  They say "$10 fine" but all I hear is "Friday School". 

This problem I have with school?  It is just me.  It's my personality.  It's my brain's problem; it's not school's problem, and it is most certainly not Clark's problem.  Clark is really excited about school so (deep breath) I am excited about school.  I just have to keep telling myself that I can do this.  I can do this.  I am a grown-up now.  I take three kids out in public.  I make them food and love them and get them dressed.  I clean up their messes.  I am sleep deprived but somehow functional.  I'm not the disorganized teenager I once was. I am going to choose to view the silly little things that seemed insurmountably annoying to me ten years ago as silly little things.  I can handle this.  I will push myself to do things the right way, every time.  And you know?  Because I am doing this for Clark, it won't even be a question.  I won't be late.  I will never be late.  I might not be a very good student, but I am a damn good mom.

Yesterday was his first full day.  Wish us luck. 



*this line is from this song, a song i loved in high school.  laziness cuts me like fine cutlery and all that.


  1. oh how i hated high school, too! the years before were pretty good, tho.

    i'm sure your lil man has years and years before anyone starts locking doors;) good luck!

  2. I hated high school for totally different reasons. I hated walking through the cliques of girls that evaluted my clothes. I hated standing in a circle with other girls who I thought were my friends, but of whom very few I know now. I hated shopping for clothes for school since what I wanted to wear and what I "should" wear were not even in the same shopping zip code. I hated brushing my hair in the morning because I knew it would never be permed or have bangs. I hated going to lunch where everyone watched what everyone ate - so that 60% of the girls had some significant eating disorder. I know! So now I teach high school... how's that for irony.

  3. I remember liking a lot of the parts of high school not the school parts as much as the stuff and people around it.

    And then I graduated and the hard part really started.

    You are a fabulous mom. I know it will be interesting to see what school looks like from his perspective...

  4. I was thinking something along these lines yesterday. I was going to write a post about still feeling like I'm in high school when I'm around the other moms in my daughter's school. They're all older, more organized and more familiar with the school and how it operates. They never forget lunch money or permission slips. They never miss a function or volunteering opportunity. Then, there's me. I'll bet the teachers would love to give me a detention!

  5. He looks SO big! I felt the same way- about highschool (also honors student but I hated school) and about Noah started kindy. I waited for the 1st thing to go wrong so I could pull him out of school... and... he's in 4th grade now. So far so good to my surprise/chagrin?


  6. I had the exact same reaction to putting my daughter in a real daycare center situation. Because it seem so much like school. And I have such painful memories of it.

    But she's doing great (granted, she's only 17 months old). I hope Clark does fantastically too.

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  8. Hi Erin! I haven't commented in a while, but I just wanted to resurface to tell you that, as someone who worked at a preschool for five years, I know what you're talking about - but from the other side of it. Pleasepleaseplease don't worry about never being late, or feel pressured to participate. Everybody is late sometimes, you have three (absolutely precious) babies to take care of, and things happen. You aren't perfect and neither is anybody else at that school, whether they're a parent or a teacher or an administrator. You know how much you love your son, and they're going to love your son too, and that's all that really matters. Good luck to you and your little Mario!

  9. You go Momma! It's fun, I promise. Mostly just to see how excited HE is. Like you said... you do it for your boy. That's all that matters. :)

  10. I can identify with your feelings on school SO well, Erin. Thinking about high schools requires me to take deep, calming breaths. And we've been planning to homeschool ... but G went to preschool this week for the first time. {by divine orchastration, I tell you.}
    But G. loves it. And he's thriving. Just like Clark. And we're *really* good mothers. :)

  11. oh geez. i have too much to process from this. i am having a very, VERY hard time with sending our oldest 2 to school this year. i'm working through discerning if it is because of my own issues though. i actually loved school & was "good" at it, but can identify with much of the distain for the various rules and black & white areas. i see so much much grey as an adult. SO much more.
    you are a great mom. [but, yes, please allow yourself to be late if you need to be. i HOPE that doesn't instantly make a bad mom.] [otherwise, i instantly FAIL.] =)

  12. "I might not be a very good student, but I am a damn good mom."...and that makes all the difference. I love that!

    I can't believe you have to pay if you're late picking Clark up...crazy!

    I also hated high school, but I will also try to keep my fears from tainting Lucy's experience :)


  13. I think that our conversation about Pedro the Lion and David Bazan via twitter made me really fall in love with you.

    I hated high school with the passion of a thousand suns..and moons. Which is part of the reason why we're homeschooling.

    I don't want my kids to feel like their self worth is wrapped up in what they wear or the grades they make. Because my kids are really damn smart, no matter what anyone else says.. including a standardized test.

    But I do sometimes wish they were in school school. Faith is so very social and I know she would thrive in the social environment of public school.

    I've committed to homeschooling for one year. And if it doesn't work after that, off to school she'll go.

    Yet I constantly doubt our decision. I think it's my job as a mom though. To constantly doubt myself.

  14. I hated high school, too. HATED. When I went away to college and got my college ID taken the first day, I was surrounded by crying freshmen, scared for their parents to leave... and I had the BIGGEST smile on my face, just so glad to be in a new environment with new people, people who were smart and wanted to be there (unlike the rednecks at my high school).

    Hang in there with Clark!! :)

  15. I disliked all of those things about school, and I disliked competition- aka the getting graded on a volleyball serve and other things like that. I never put my identity in school and my Mom really emphasized that we didn't have to earn her love by doing well. So I didn't put much thought into school but got a's and b's. Like nora, now i am a teacher, and i also find that fact highly ironic.

  16. I remember a time in high school when my mom told me, "These are the best years of your life!" And I distinctly remember thinking "MY GOD I HOPE NOT!"

    Thankfully she was very wrong. Hang in there! (and the Conseco Fieldhouse reference made me smile - hello to a fellow Hoosier!)

  17. It was a pretty incredible feeling walking out after graduation. I just felt it again for a brief moment while reading this and it felt fuzzy, warm and exhilarating. It is really nice that all of that is history like Mr. Burchfield. (I can't remember how to spell his last name but I would bet $100 that you haven't forgotten).

  18. I hated school too. The day my parents pulled me out to homeschool me was probably the happiest day of my life up to that point. Having babies has now trumped it. :)

    Have you ever read anything by John Holt or John Taylor Gatto. They talk about school and how children learn. Good stuff. I highly recommend both of their books.

  19. I was so happy the day I graduated high school too. I remember people crying all around me and thinking they were crazy. To me, graduating was the beginning of freedom, the beginning of my life.

    P.S. He is so handsome with his red hair and green shirt.


  20. i was never a fan of school, either ... and i have those same feelings of dread about sending emma to school.

    the preschool we chose for her last year was ridiculously expensive and so NOT worth the money. i can't believe we left her in there for a year. ken keeps telling me to find another program for her, but i keep putting it off ... i would love the break, but there's still this little part of me that doesn't want to deal with the rules of school again.

  21. This speaks to me SO much. I feel insanely sensitive about whether or not S is doing okay in school because I consistently hated school. ALL THE TIME. And even when I liked it it was this tentative half-terrified liking it. I have no idea how my entire intestinal system didn't explode some time during my education.

    Love the way you described everything here.

    Ahhhh I love your new header too, so much.