Monday, July 30, 2012


1 : to do the first part of an action : go into the first part of a process : start

Today was our first day of school for the 2012-2013 year.  When K walked out of her room this morning (after reading in bed for who knows how long), I said, "Hi, third grader."  She gave me a big smile and a hug before heading off to find some breakfast.

Our first day was a bit rocky.  By 9:30, two of my three students/daughters had cried.  B cried out of anger and frustration that school was actually starting, that she really had work to do and that she didn't know exactly where every book was.  K cried because I wouldn't let her read her Nancy Drew book and she was afraid she won't get enough reading time as a homeschooler.  I explained, as gently as possible, that without rules prohibiting us from reading during school hours that's all any of us would ever do around here - read and then read some more.

By noon, all of the sentences had been written, all of the math problems completed, all of the research done.  So we watched the previous evening's Olympics together for a few hours.  B has been dubious about the Olympics ever since I announced we were going to start school by learning about the games through a unit study.  Yet as she watched women's gymnastics, she turned to me and said, "You're right, mom.  This is fun."  I refrained from doing a victory dance and instead breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

Were it not for the Olympics, I might not have started school so early.  Our summer has been abysmally low on down time - a mere shadow of the summer I envisioned having.  But I have felt that we are ready to begin.  Ready to reimpose order and routine.  Ready to have something bigger to give our days shape and meaning.

You might have noticed above that only two out of three daughters cried today.  The third (and firstborn) was raring to go.  When I came downstairs at 7:30, she was showered, breakfasted and had started her daily work.  Even having only ended her summer ballet on Thursday, A was ready to begin.

There is something difficult, yet satisfying, about beginning.  The difficulty lies in breaking away, starting anew, shifting from what is known to what is unknown.  The satisfaction comes from having finally done what is anticipated and perhaps feared.  It was easier than ever to begin school this year.  While I still feel like I am swimming in uncharted waters, I enjoy the freedom of it.  I even enjoy the work of it.  Doing math with K this morning was alternately frustrating (working on math facts) and encouraging (the girl can see patterns).  She is a willing student, if a sometimes distracted one.  B, for all her huffing and puffing, enjoys learning and agreed this afternoon that it was a good day, filled with just the right amount of work.

If the beginning is hard, staying the course is even harder.  I was quite willing to make chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I will not be so willing later this week (or even tomorrow, after tonight's insomnia).  I didn't struggle to let B vent her frustration and anger today, but there will come a time when I want her to simply agree and go along.  When those moments and more arrive, I want to remember that on our first day of school, three of the four of us were in pajamas until noon.  I want to remember laughing about K's puddle of syrup and how A kept getting songs stuck in B's head - which only tormented all of us because B then sang or played them for hours on end.  I want to remember to begin again when it gets hard, impossible and discouraging. 

I want to not let fear, anger and shame paralyze me and instead reach for the joy that awaits just on the other side of beginning.

First Day of School - 6th grade, 3rd grade, 7th grade

1 comment:

EJN said...

Ahhh! Hard work. Fun. Hard work. Bless you as you begin the new year.