Missing Out

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 in Featured, Learning | 7 comments

Yesterday, I ran into a friend whose daughter is the same age as Rain. They went to preschool together for a year and a half, have attended each other’s birthdays and had play dates. I asked my friend how school was going for her daughter. She told me how much her daughter likes getting ready for school in the morning, how she’s asking to ride the bus instead of being picked up, how she loves having a spot to hang her backpack.

I’ve been thinking of these things the last two weeks as I remembered to slow down in the school zones on my way to work, as I watched the kids in the new sneakers and backpacks walking to the front doors of the school two-by-two and smiling, as I noted the adorable rows of bikes on the bike rack.

There’s this little part of me, deep down, that feels like I’m depriving Rain of all those things.

In many ways, I liked school. I have a lot of fond memories:

  • Going back-to-school shopping – we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but it was one time when we were guaranteed at least a few new things.
  • The novelty of riding the school bus
  • School supplies – pink pearl erasers, cahiers (french immersion-speak for those ruled notebooks with half page blank to draw a picture), a new plaid pencil case with a zipper, and the Laurentien pencil crayons carefully arranged by colour to create a rainbow on the night before the first day
  • Waiting in the line up to use the pencil sharpener on the wall to sharpen all of our pencil crayons
  • Getting assigned a desk by alphabetical order and hoping a friend would fall nearby
  • Arranging everything neatly in my little desk (until it eventually became a mess of crumpled paper and uneaten peanut butter sandwiches – even today I have good intentions but not the follow through).
  • Sitting cross legged on the tapis (carpet – some words are forever in french in my memory) to do calendrier (calendar) – what day is it today? what is the weather like?
  • Swinging at recess
  • Recess!
  • School lunches in a brown bag or my red Tupperware lunch box – with tiny snack size things like juice boxes
  • A new back pack
  • The first trip to the school library
  • Picture day and getting the pictures back

Clearly I was a bit of a nerd, but man, I really loved those things and I still kind of do. It makes me smile to think of Rain experiencing it all and part of me is sad to think that he is missing out. And part of me is sad that I am missing out on living it again vicariously through him.

I have to remember however that Rain isn’t a mini-me. He would rather be building in the garage or digging for worms than sitting at a neat row of desks, and unlike my friend’s daughter, Rain hates getting dressed and ready to go anywhere, let alone to spend 6 hours in the company of 22 peers. I also remind myself some of the ways schools have changed since I was there. I think about the ways I felt let down by my education.

But this week, I find myself wistfully wishing that public school really was the idealized version that exists in my memories.

What did you love about elementary school?


  1. You’re right, Rain isn’t a mini-you. And also, it’s not necessarily true that he will never get to experience those things. Maybe he won’t, because home-schooling will be so great for him. Or maybe he’ll be a different kid in a few years, you know? I try to remind myself that life doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.

    My favourite part of elementary school was the new school supplies. I remember that particular smell of them so well. Sitting up and labeling Hannah’s totally brought me back.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..The Tale of the Canadian Tire Money =-.
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

  2. This is one of the main reasons I waver back and forth about homeschooling – feeling like I would be depriving my kids of the shared nostalgia. I hope that there will be kids that my girls can share their homeschool experience with in a similar way.

    With the popularity of homeschooling growing, as it seems to be in my home community and online, having a shared homeschooling experience may not be as out-there as it once was.
    .-= Michelle @ The Parent Vortex´s last blog ..Resource Review Thursday- Playful Parenting Online Discussion Group =-.
    Twitter: TheParentVortex

  3. What about creating fall back-to-school routines for yourselves?

    Go buy some of the school supplies (on sale after everyone else is done shopping), or get a calendar set from Staples.

    Every year we do a trip or two (or three) to the art store to get art supplies. Everyone gets sketchbooks to fill each year. In our house, we all love that. The Not Back To School Picnic is a big one for us too.

    Maybe Rain would have ideas…
    Twitter: melaniemcintosh

  4. I understand this too. Everyone asks my daughter what grade she is in at school and which school she’s attending. There’s that excitement in the air especially this time of year, and it’s contagious. My daughter is very shy so I end up telling the people that we are homeschooling, and in a way it feels like I am depriving them of experiencing their own nostalgia. She started a yoga class today with other 5-7 year olds and they were all talking about their teachers and classrooms and my heart sank that my little girl who already has so much social anxiety now has even less in common with her peers than before. It’s heart breaking for me to see her not know what to say. But one thing wonderful about self design for us is that because of my daughter’s challenges they are paying for counselling for her anxiety and social skills issues. So maybe it will end up being worthwhile.. For now we’re still settling in and I’m still struggling with these similar feelings you are having.
    Twitter: bfmom

  5. I definitely have those same fond memories of school… But isn’t it funny how our fond memories don’t include any of the lessons or learning experiences provided.

    I hope when my son looks back on his unschool days he remembers the experiences that we get to share. Not just the preparations for them 🙂

  6. i was also worried that i would be depriving special k of these rituals but we did the back to school shopping and have joined a co-op that meets once a week for three hours of lessons in writing, art, geography, and science. there’s a recess like time and a lunch session too. eventually when we are comfotable with the new routine we will look back and see all the things we have added to and enhanced during these moments.
    .-= carla´s last blog ..homeschooling on a monday =-.

  7. The other day we ran into a mom and her two kids in the store. We had run into them at a park a few weeks before. We re-introduced ourselves to each other, names, ages, etc. Then I heard her son (who was 4) ask something about my son (who is 7). The mom said, “Oh, they’re probably homeschooling, you know, like Skylar? … so that’s why he’s not in school with all his friends.”

    I was at the bulk foods, and had to chuckle. I turned around easily and said, “Well, actually, if he were in school, he wouldn’t be with his friends, because all his friends are homeschooled. He spends his days with them.” 🙂

    This isn’t to dishonor your grief or discomfort around your son not being in school right now — it took me a couple of years to feel really settled in our choice (my son has always liked it, but I had a lot of questions about whether or not it was really the “right” choice). Now I feel centered enough to make light-hearted banter with strangers. A couple of years ago, not so much. 🙂

    I just found you via the carnival and have really been enjoying my visit to your blog… I don’t usually share so much at the very first visit, but this story was fresh in my mind. Give yourselves time…

    And my favorite thing about elementary school was learning. I just loved to learn (and read!). I carried around a little notebook in my back pocket, like Harriet the Spy.

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