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Holding on to Traditions, Making Concessions, and A New School Year



Today is the first day of school for half the population in our local district. Jordan is not part of that population. The Bibbed Wonder and I have decided that with her severe asthma and her questionable immune system, we feel it is better for her to be at home. Initially, she was disgruntled about cyber school and let us be honest, she is disgruntled about school in general. Although she is an amazing, conscientious, hardworking student who achieves straight A’s, she has never been in love with school. I understand this completely. As a student, I never enjoyed school in general until I went to college. Sometimes, the similarities between us astounds me. However, I digress. With the new school year before us, I am hoping she enjoys and is successful in her new adventure into cyber school.

Although my bean claims to be happy to not have to “deal with the drama” of regular school, I still feel she is missing out on positive social interaction and perhaps even a historical event. As a society, we have never faced a situation like this before and I am sure it will be one for historians to document. However, I feel it is much more important to keep her safe and healthy than have her experience social change. My hopes were that she would actually be excited for school and this new endeavor. I have spent months accentuating the positive. Emphasizing that she will have more flexibility and freedom in her schedule…she likes flexibility and freedom, her ability to delve deeper into subjects that interest her…I get to flex my teacher muscles again…her ability to work ahead and finish more quickly for longer periods of down time…I’m thinking educational field trips, and the fact that her day will be over much more quickly with no homework to do in the evenings…I am thinking we sneak in a shared reading journal we write back and forth in about a book we are reading together. Until this past weekend, she was like a bear with a sore bottom about school.

She went to stay with GramBarb this weekend…say it as fast as possible, mashing it all together and you pronounce it like The Bean. Staying with GramBarb is the next best thing to vacation. They play cards, hide and go seek, and do projects. They eat out, make cinnamon rolls or cookies, and GramBarb has real T.V…aka, more channels that PBS. She is also a wonderful grandma. That always puts a smile on The Beans face. On Wednesday, I asked Jordan if she wanted to shop for school supplies. The answer I received was, “No, I’m good.” Sigh, okay, please allow me to complete this task without you as well. I then had an idea! I love it when I have ideas. The Bibbed Wonder, he is not so fond of my ideas but really, they are mostly good ideas. He tends to stifle my creativity with his logic, rationale, and math minded nonsense…like budget. Budget, Smudget, you can’t take it with you! Not one of the more popular ideas with my bibbed wearing buddy. However, again I digress.

My idea was to set up a special school area for The Bean in the soap studio. A space that was completely hers and dedicated to all things learning. I got to do one of the few other things I love to do, SHOP! I bought twinkle lights, desk lamps, wax burners, coordinating school supplies, headphones, bulletin boards, wheelie chairs, candy jars and favorite candies. I bought pencils, scented markers, highlighters, and scented colored pencils. I bought post-it notes shaped like dogs, and folders with dogs in outfits. I had so much fun! I also decided to add an element of surprise. When The Bean returned home from GramBarbs, my customized space of learning would be revealed. The Bean loves a surprise and this gave her something to look forward to all weekend. Finally, she was excited for school. Each and every time I spoke to her over the weekend, she asked about her school space. Win for mom!

I spent most of Sunday setting up her school area. That too was fun for me. A few of the elements I wanted to incorporate could not be found locally, so I had to shop online. However, most things will arrive by the end of the week, so I am satisfied. Normally, when we pick up my bean from a sleepover, she is reluctant for the fun to end. This time, she got packed up immediately and was ready to go. She couldn’t wait to see her new space and she talked about school the whole way home. Again, win for mom! Once we returned home, we made a huge production of revealing her space. Much to my relief and pleasure, she was thrilled with all aspects. She moved from area to area, looked at all her supplies, squealed that high-pitched squeal only an eleven-year-old girl can squeal, and thanked me profusely. One more win for mom. I also created a daily schedule for her and posted it. Now, this she does not get from me, but my bean is a rule follower. If it is written down, it is law. Much to my surprise, she was thrilled with her schedule. That above all else seemed to please her the most. Sometimes, she just baffles me. She spent the rest of the evening talking about school, getting ready for school…she even showered and brushed her teeth without a hassle, and she fell asleep thinking about school. Overall, I consider it a big success.

This morning, we did what we always do on the first day of school. I made pancakes and bacon, her favorite breakfast, we took her picture by the black-eyed Susans with her chalk board listing her grade, her school and her teacher. This year, the sign read Jordan Smay, 6th grade, Cyber School, Teachers Mrs. Smay and Mr. Smay…MY PARENTS! This made me laugh out loud. Eric being the jokester that he is, has spent the last week telling Jordan to be prepared to be bullied by her teacher. I have tried to prepare Jordan for the fact that she may not always like me when I am in teacher mode. I have forewarned her she will be held accountable for her work, her time management, and her attitude. I am a no-nonsense kind of mom, so I think she understands I will be a no-nonsense teacher as well.

Overall, I consider this morning and this new adventure a success. My bean in sitting in her customized school spot working diligently on language arts. My bibbed wearing buddy is monitoring her progress and ready to jump in for tech support if need be. She is happy and excited for her new year, her new adventure, and her new schedule. Promptly at ten o’clock she will be taking a break, gathering eggs, and eating a special first day of school snack…a Little Debbie Swiss Roll and raw, organic milk…it’s the first day, we make concessions.

As for the rest of the kids who are starting school today, after we said the Pledge of Allegiance, know we said a prayer for you, your health, and a successful school year. We wish all families a year of good health, patience, and success. As always, my dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, do whatever is best for you and yours…and try to have a little fun…and of course, keep washing those hands for twenty seconds with warm water and perhaps a good goat’s milk soap.

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