Poor me. Lucky me. A Public School tale.

Self-deprecating comment alert. I don’t know how to raise my child, but I think some people at the Boston Public Schools do. You know me, right? I didn’t read the parenting manual. The bookstore was sold out back in 2009. I’m a loving parent, an intelligent person. Concerned. Involved. But discipline and development are probably not my strengths.

Liron started at a new Boston Public School this week. I know what you might be thinking. Wasn’t there some show Boston Public? I haven’t seen it but I can surmise it paints some troubled/violent/poor/racist urban school system (anyone seen it? am I totally off-base here)? Yeah, I know BPS has many young families running to the burbs. (I don’t blame you, either, the burbs rock!!)

When Liron and I attended the  “I’m going to Kindergarten” event at The Boston Children’s Museum someone from Cradles to Crayons, after learning Liron had been in childcare said “Oh where, Head Start?” inferring only low income families would ever send their child to a Boston Public School. Let’s divorce ourselves of that notion right now. Nope, we were paying an arm a leg for private childcare, and believe it or not lady, we chose this. (And btw, Cradles to Crayons is a fantastic program that provides clothing and school supplies to homeless and/or low income families with children.)

With every doctor visit and/or meeting with a childcare development/mental health specialist, the benefits of public school, at least for Liron, were spelled out.

Soo … on September 10, this Monday, I braced myself for a big adjustment. There were tears on the first day of school as the teacher went over rules while Liron sat at a little table with friends complaining that she “just wanted to play.” Can’t blame the girl, we visited the classroom the week prior and found some SWEET Eric Carle books, dinosaur toys, trucks, etc. If I were her I’d want to get down to business too.

Her classmates wore their backpacks on their shoulders. Liron never had. We always carried hers. She isn’t potty trained. I’m fairly certain her other classmates are. Often we’re still tempted to spoon feed her yogurt, soup, cereal. Get the picture? Princess! Little sweet baby turning into big girl but her parents didn’t notice! or want to see it!

On that first day she and her friends got Rice Krispies and milk and … gasp – served themselves! Sure, she was a little messy, over-pouring her milk into the pre-packaged cereal. But she did pretty well lifting the lid off of the cereal, unwrapping her spork. Remember sporks guys? Spoon/Forks!! Kickass!

After a few days the changes in Liron are clear. She walks in line with her friends, backpack on shoulders, with pride. She enjoys hearing the principal on the loudspeaker. She talks about her homeroom teacher and a new music teacher. She wants to go to the “big girl” park across the street (she used to call it the “big boy” park but I convinced her otherwise) and she’s not only talking more about “big girl” behaviors, she is practicing them. Using the potty so much more, and bursting with pride. What a little person.

Sure I have great feelings toward Liron’s prior childcare provider. They kept her safe, I believe happy, and often stimulated with new toys, books, ideas, songs, and more. But in her new school, at the ripe old age of 3.5, she is learning the structure and discipline that a little gal like her needs. And she’s never been happier. Believe it.

“I am happy. I am so happy. I am a big girl,” are frequent Liron statements that make us all want to say the same thing.

If I want to help Liron by carrying her bag, and generally doing things for her that make her life “easier,” then her school is showing her, and me, that by letting her do more by herself, she is happier, more independent, and has a greater sense of pride and accomplishment.

And that is tax money well spent.

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