It seems like just yesterday that we carried our first born into the School Board office to decide on her fate.
Little Miss Molly was just three months old and we were your typical first-time parents — nervous, anxious and terrified of making any wrong decisions that would negatively affect her future.
Would our pint-size Picasso grow up to be an artist? Well, she sure loved to make a masterpiece out of her strained peas and carrots. With that in mind we eagerly checked the box signing her up for the Fine Arts School.
“What about French Immersion?” I suggested to my husband Jason.
“Oui,” he replied, ticking off that box too.
“You’re right,” I said. “Who knows, she might want to travel abroad for her semester in college or maybe grow up to be an airline hostess?”
There was also the Fundamental School and Montessori program on the list. Check and check.
Neither of us knew anything about the latter two schools, but figured there was no point in limiting our bambina’s educational potential.
During the drive home, we talked non-stop about which school we’d eventually settle on for our daughter when the time came.
“Don’t stress honey, we don’t have to worry about that for a looong time,” laughed Jason.
Fast forward to five years later– five of the fastest years of our lives– and there we were in a pickle trying to decide which school to send our future Kindergartner to.
And since we registered her for school practically straight out of the womb, there were no shortage of options.
“What do we do?” I asked, just a week shy of her first official school day.
Despite deciding over the summer on one of the ‘choice schools’ from that list five years prior, I found myself awake in the wee hours of the night second guessing myself.
Had I made the right decision registering her for a school across town? We had heard nothing but raving reviews about this particular educational hot spot from parents and former students, but I wasn’t so sure.
Going there would mean committing to driving Molly and eventually her little sister, Zoe, to and from school for the next 9 years. There is no before or after- school-care on site or a school bus service, which would make ever re-entering the workforce near impossible.
Play dates would become complicated — would we still hear those little knocks at the door from school mates sporadically popping by to play?
There would no wading in puddles and collecting rocks, pine cones and colorful leaves as we had every afternoon en route to preschool the last two years.
Once winter arrived, we’d also have to brave icy roads — just the mere sight of a snowflake already gives me the chills.
And yet, even with all this in mind, I felt paralyzed with crippling ‘choice’ anxiety.
Maybe I was just being lazy? Or was I selfish? Perhaps a combo of both?
One thing I have learned is parenting is one tough job and that there is no one-size-fits all answer — this is especially true when it comes to choosing the ‘right school.’
When it doubt, I did what many daughters do in turmoil. I called my mom.
Growing up in a low income single-parent family, we moved. A lot.
For myself, it meant being the new kid a grand total of eight times, which wasn’t always the easiest hat to wear.
None of those schools were necessarily ‘choice,’ but they fit the bill for a hard-working full-time cashier who didn’t have the luxury of driving her offspring to and from school every day. Nor did she have the choice of living in a more affluent neighbourhood.
“You went to regular schools and look how you turned out?” said my mother, during a late-night phone call.
“Life is hard enough, why make it more complicated?… I really think you’re over-thinking this.”
It wasn’t until dropping Molly off for her first day at her neighbourhood school, just a hop, skip and puddle jump away, that I realized mom was right –and I’m not just talking about my own mother.
“Mommy, all my friends from preschool are here and they have a library and water fountains too!” said our little cherubic scholar, who was grinning from dimple-to-dimple when I picked her up from her first day of Kindergarten.
On the way home she skipped through the puddles and waved to her new friends who we discovered live in our same complex.
Perhaps it is high-time I started trusting my own maternal instinct rather than second-guessing every single thought, every ‘choice.’
Well, at least until it’s time to start filling out post secondary education applications…
Did you have a tough time deciding on a school for your child(ren)? Tell us all about it below!