Some of you have asked how Tobias’ new school is going, so I wanted to give an update.
It’s physically beautiful, as I’m learning Waldorf schools are, full of light and color and natural fibers, but more importantly, it’s beautiful within Tobias, too. I hear him singing his new songs every morning as he gets ready for school, and when I pick him up, he’s full to bursting with what he learned that day. The entire 20 minute commute home, he talks a steady stream, relaying a story he was told that day, telling me what he made, built, or played.
This is new.
In the mornings, he used to frown and procrastinate and say he hated school. In the afternoons, only complaints waited for me at the car: who hurt his feelings that day, why he got in trouble at recess. He could never remember much he did during the day, giving the standard ‘I dunno’ answer preferred by most school-aged boys.
In this new school, he has passion. He’s working with his hands, digging in the dirt, building structures, stocking food pantry shelves. His heart is in it. His hand is up. He hasn’t seen a photocopied worksheet since enrolling; sometimes the blank sheets of paper are overwhelming at first, but then his imagination and creativity kick in.
He has allies.
Kids will be kids at every school, but when small problems arise, he now has a network–a family, they call it–to rely on. There’s immediate, thoughtful, and meaningful action. At his previous school, if he felt unsafe, or felt sad, or felt hurt by another, no one listened. I hate to say this, but it’s true. The monitors and even many of the teachers were too busy, too over-burdened, too tired of complaints to hear him. Mostly, I can understand: when I worked there, I sometimes felt the same. But for Tobias, it wasn’t sometimes. It was all the time. When another child hit him on the playground and he told a recess monitor, she would say, “Ok, come tell me next time.” And he’d say, “I am.” And she’d say, “Ok.”
This I will never understand.
Yes, Tobias needed to learn how to handle conflict and how to stand up for himself and yes, this is life, but he is eight. And he had no one helping him. Handling it on his own, he never got his response right: he either overreacted and got a referral or under-reacted and got bullied. I’m not so sure I would have gotten it right, either.
He has new friends.
And thank God for it. We are grateful–so grateful–for the ‘old’ friends who will always be so important to him, but also thankful for the new. No matter what we want for our kids in a school, no matter what philosophy or academic standards or environment, we want them to have friends. He’s behind in math and in cursive writing and in Spanish, but he’ll get there. He is outside much of every day, rain or shine. He’s learning new skills, like crochet and gardening and cooking, and he’s learning in big, broad strokes. Sometimes there are gaps. Sometimes there are jumps from concept to unrelated concept. But I trust he’ll connect the dots eventually. When he’s ready.