We Opened Pandora’s Box

English: Bedford Middle School, 88 North Avenu...

English: Bedford Middle School, 88 North Avenue, Westport, CT. Opened in 2001, this school is named after the original Bedford Middle School on Riverside Avenue, now renovated and opened as Saugatuck Elementary School. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I forget that storms follow where I walk and that I am capable of creating chaos and wreaking havoc with limited effort. Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration but not as much as I would like it to be.

When we made the decision to leave private school for the public world it was with the hope that we would be accepted to a particular place. There was one school that ranked above the rest and it was where I focused my energy.

There was no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t the only option and that other good schools existed but I pursued it with somewhat singular vision. Enrollment was guaranteed to those who lived in the neighborhood and a lottery was available for those who did not.

Long story short we did not live in the magic area and pursued admission via the lottery. It didn’t work out and the children were placed on wait list. Daughter ended up at a great elementary school and loves it. I am quite pleased to see how happy she is in school and love hearing the stories she tells about her teacher and all the new friends she has made.

The prodigal son was a slightly different story. He started middle school with more trepidation than I liked and I found myself wondering if I was responsible for making him fearful.

Change is Frightening

Much discussion led to the conclusion that some of his discomfort came from fear of the unknown and some from the mouths of friends who filled his head with horror. Many thanks to these children who have never attended public school and were merely parroting parental discharge.

Got the big guy to accept that they did not know what they were talking about and watched him ease into the new joint with some of the same joy we all exhibit in stepping into cold water. Slowly but surely he has become more comfortable and I have been proud to see his progress.

Early Monday morning I received a telephone call letting me know that a space has opened up at the school we originally wanted him to attend. Ran over to the school to get enrollment papers and had a brief talk with my son about this.

He is not completely sure he wants to change and I am torn.

Whose Decision Is It?

In reality he is still young enough not to have a “real” vote in where he goes to school. He is welcome to give his opinion but we retain veto power.

This should be easy. The decision to move him over to the school that had been headlining our desire shouldn’t be difficult. We are only one week in to the school year which means he really won’t be behind the other students.

Except it is not easy and I am surprised by how much harder it is than expected.

He has done much better acclimating at the current school and has made some friends. Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t respect these things and let him continue. It is not a bad school but it wasn’t the first choice.

Now I am staring at a piece of paper trying to figure out if one is truly better than the other. Staring and wondering which has the advantage and which will give him more opportunity.

The young master had trouble going to sleep tonight. He wrestled over this and listening to his questions/comments I could tell he was trying to please me. That is not what I want.

I don’t want him to decide to do this because he thinks it will make me happy. I want it to happen because he sees opportunity. Of course it is possible  that he won’t want to change and I will insist because I think it is best.

It is a parent’s prerogative, but none of this is as easy as saying yes or no. The plan had been to start at the new school tomorrow but I may push it back a day to give everyone a little  more time to think.

Wednesday will be the drop dead date. Oy, sometimes this parenting thing is just nuts.

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  1. Cathy August 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Gosh I left such a good message via my phone but then it wouldn’t connect. Grrrr. I will try again but of course it’ll be much lamer.

    Anyway, I think I mentioned that my kid wanted to switch schools this year – his senior year – and we said no. I think there is great value in a child be happy where they are, but understanding the motivations behind their reasons is important. In my son’s case, he wanted to go to an “easier” high school (he’s been struggling) that (conveniently) is the same school as his girlfriend’s. Um no.

    But it was nothing about the academics. I think when you’re talking about decent schools in general – some might be better than others – the relative difference is often irrelevant given proper parental oversight AND the child’s happiness. The happier they are, the more they will like school – from that you can say the better they will do. IMO of course.

    • The JackB August 23, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      @mecreaves:disqus We ended up moving my son for many of the same reasons and after two days noticed immediate results in his mood. He is far more comfortable at the new school and is walking tall.

      So I have nothing but confidence in this move and am so very happy we did it.

      You are right about motivations because that really does play a significant part in how our children do.

  2. thehipdad August 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    If you think the original school provides better opportunities then you should assert yourself and switch him to it. Change is hard, but learning to cope with it is a very important life skill. This could be an invaluable experience. If your son has already made connections at the current school, he may be able to keep them. He will form new ones at the new school. It may have been a more delicate situation if it were the middle of the year, but after only a week in, both he, you, and the rest of the family should be able to cope with it.

    Either way, good luck!

    • The JackB August 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Hi HD,

      I love my son dearly and give him a certain amount of latitude in making these decisions but ultimately it is up to his mom and I to figure out that is best here so I am in agreement with you about asserting out authority.

      One week of school isn’t long enough to make this change catastrophic so…

      • thehipdad August 22, 2012 at 6:39 am

        Don’t get me wrong, kids deserve a lot of latitude (and some parents deny their kids latitude *because* they love them so dearly; not my philosophy). But It’s very difficult for a kid to predict the outcomes of their own decisions. Heaven knows, after decades I can’t predict the outcomes of my own decisions, and although I’m infinitesimally better at prediction than my kids, sometimes that’s all it takes.

  3. Hajra August 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I ain’t a parent, so I obviously can’t relate like a parent. But there are certain things which I would like to say. Sometimes, parents do know what is best for their children. The key is to help children see the truth as the parents see it. The child will be scared, the secret is to know that the parent is right behind, in every step.

    Remind him again and again of how you are and will be there for him always, in bad times and in good times as well. The support might give him the strength to see things from a new light and move on.

    • The JackB August 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      You don’t have to be a parent to have good advice for a situation like this and I like what you said here. Support and confidence that someone has his back is really what my son wants so that is what I am focused on.

  4. Julie August 21, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Interesting. It would have been more convenient if they’d come up with this before school started. My first thought would be to let him go where he is instead of upsetting the apple cart, but he doesn’t have that much invested yet…so if you believe the other school is that much better then so be it. Let us know what you decide. (My heart is breaking over thinking of moving my kid, should we move house…he would NOT be able to adjust as well. Maybe I should be wishing for a miracle replacement house in this school district.)

  5. Betsy Cross August 21, 2012 at 4:26 am

    I understand your dilemma.
    My motto is “Bloom where you’re planted”, and refuse to let them attend any school that is not the one assigned to where they live. For a year I drove and picked up my daughter from her high school in a previous town because it was her senior year and she wanted to graduate with her friends. That was the only exception I ever made…and we had a new baby and 6 other children to juggle!
    It’s impossible to predict the influence certain friends, teachers or environments will have on our children. So I just let it be what it is and focus on helping my children manage their emotions, behaviors, and habits in the environment they live in.
    Mt friends’ kids in private school and the tech schools in the area are thriving and / or struggling because of their personal temperaments. Those who are thriving thrive no matter what. Same for those who are struggling. To me, the real issues are social, emotional, and personal study habits…no matter where they go to school. Real education happens not because of exposure, but because a child starts to apply knowledge and overcomes distractions… among other things…
    Good luck to you!

    • The JackB August 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Betsy,

      I like the idea of blooming where you are planted but I am very particular about education. You can lose almost everything in life but you can’t lose your education so I work hard to make sure that my kids have something special.

      But we also talk about learning how to focus so that we don’t sidetracked and or derailed by people who aren’t interested in learning. It is not easy. I don’t want to push them to be people they aren’t but I don’t want to let them take the easy way out.

      Mainly I want to help them learn how to get along in society without me. If they can do that I know I have done ok.

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