OK, it isn't really back to school because The Dark Lord hasn't been in a schoolroom since pre-school. When he finished up there, we tried getting him into a charter school kindergarten which fell apart. We decided then that we would homeschool him for kindergarten because we really didn't feel that he would thrive in a busy classroom all day long. He's always been a kid with the ability to focus deeply when he's interested and the need for lots of solitude. Being around too many people for too long and being required to switch from one task to another seemed to stress him out, so we saw no reason to push him into that kind of environment so early.
Our first year of homeschooling grew into many years. MonkeyBoy joined in as well. Over the years, both boys learned to read in completely different ways. They've explored topics in depth, tried out everything from fencing to yoga, worked at home and in lots of different groups, and have read hundreds of books. They've written stories, made movies, built bridges, dissected owl pellets, taken field trips, acted in Shakespeare plays, and had endless hours to dream and imagine and just...be.
But then one day last spring, The Dark Lord mentioned that he might like to give school a try. We set up a visit and off he went to see what high school was all about. He came home not exactly eager, but definitely willing to give it a try. This month we've turned in forms and worked on replenishing the wardrobe. We've bought binders and lunch kits and a fancy new backpack and all of this business has kept me from focusing on the real issue, which is that my child will be leaving our home and spending much of his day out there, in the land of TV and pop culture and drugs and promiscuity and fundamentalist Christians and racists and gangs and cheerleaders and all the things we've tried to keep him from. He's strong and he knows who he is and what's right and wrong and I am confident that he will make good choices, but I just can't begin to imagine what he will make of this experience.
It's a good enough school. We're outside the city's big school district and don't have to participate in the competitive struggle to get our kids into the best school. There's one high school in the district and all the kids have the same opportunities. The classes range from remedial to honors (and my homeschooling mama self is proud that the boy's writing was good enough that he was accepted into those honors classes). The school's population is diverse which, admittedly, can't be said of our city's homeschooling community which is mostly white and mostly at least middle class. The arts program surprised me in its variety--I thought they didn't have money for arts in public schools anymore.
So our whole family is just.....waiting. We all seem to understand that this is huge, for all of us. I will actually welcome the chance to pay more attention to his siblings who will continue to learn at home, but I am having a hard time getting used to the idea that he'll be missing from our home for hours and hours every week.