Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leap of faith

I have found most aspects of being a mother requires taking almost daily leaps of faith, especially when parental responsibilities.  Mothers are super efficient at multi-tasking, thanks in large part to the many eyes in the back of our head, and often think we can do everything associated with our children better than anybody else.  We accept the responsibility of being our children's biggest advocate and hope and pray not to drop the ball along the way.

I think one of the greatest challenges working mothers face is the one associated with child care.  I was blessed with the ability to stay home for three months and to work part time another two months afterwards.  Even still, it was hard for me to give this precious bundle I hadn't fully trusted myself with over to someone I was not married to, related to or known almost half my life.  The first week was probably the most gut wrenching ever, but my new mommy nerves settled and KIC did well.

From that first day with someone else providing for KIC's needs,  we had an idea in our minds as to what KIC's schooling future would be like.  All day childcare/preschool through to elementary school.  We (mostly me) had a very definite idea of the style of education that KIC should be exposed to.  We found a school that operated the way I thought I would thrive, therefore, KIC would thrive in that environment as well.  Except, somewhere along the way, KIC got lost.  She didn't hear very well for a long time, thanks to recurring ear infections that lasted well over 16 months.  She followed what her peers did, not really what the teacher said.  Even when she could hear well, the pattern had been established and trying to get a response directly from KIC was like pulling teeth.  She doesn't like to be wrong (I have NO idea where she gets that from), so she wouldn't even attempt an answer.  This would apply if you were asking her what she did five minutes ago or if you were asking her what color she was wearing.  She would say she didn't know, but could later be found reciting things like "blue + red = purple" to herself.  As a mother, it was very frustrating to know that she knew the concepts, but refused to demonstrate that she did.  KIC was no trick pony and she wasn't afraid to let you know.

I had to start considering a learning style different to what she was currently used to.  Her teachers were wonderful, but she wasn't retaining what she learned, at all.  Also preying on my mind, was the fact that every summer of her young life would be taken up in a school or camp environment.  It's one of the accepted aspects of being a working mother, but I couldn't help but think of my carefree summers and want that for KIC.

As it became clearer that we would have to pursue a different learning style for KIC, a tremendous opportunity came up to have someone we knew, trusted and liked give KIC the carefree summer of her young life.  Our focus was making the summer fun and pressure free.  Admittedly, my original request was to have KIC work on the areas where she needed the most practice.  Pretty quickly, that gave way to me relinquishing control and watching KIC bloom.  Make no mistake, KIC has always been a happy child, so I could never say she was miserable in the school setting.  But from the  very beginning of this new experience, KIC was somehow lighter than she had been while in school.  Each summer day was a brand new choose your own adventure chapter for her, and she was loving it.  Choices!  Fun!  And if some organic learning was snuck in, KIC embraced it.  It reinforced my belief that KIC needed something different.

So, now what to do?  KIC would always be welcomed at the old school, but was it what she needed?  How much trial and error could we afford, trying to find what worked for her?  The answer came quickly, but would require a leap of faith from us as well as from the person who had only signed on for a summer of fun.  Mostly on her part, cuz we Shoups are a crazy bunch.  I am not going to say that the Type A part of me came to the decision easily.  I am prone to fretting and fret I did, but KIC had improved in too many areas to be able to let my fears outweigh benefits so obvious, they smacked me upside the head.

All this to say, KIC will not be attending a preschool in the fall.  She will continue to stay at home and learn in a way that she cannot easily get lost behind her peers.  While her days of fabulous manicures and pedicures (!) and glamour girl picnics at a performing arts parks may be numbered, the door to her potential has opened that much wider.  We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and feel strongly that no matter how high this leap of faith is for all concerned, KIC has already come out a winner.  Please...with a mom like me, she can't help it!  ;)

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