Divining - FamilyEducation

Divining

February 17,2011
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

I spent most of Tuesday in a deep worried-sad funk about L. and school next year. Most of the funk was generated by a 7:30 a.m. meeting with L.'s resource team at his school, in which we learned about lots of things that have been going on that we didn't know about--like the fact that he hasn't been really doing any work for a couple of weeks. He's been backsliding, on many fronts. I appreciate L.'s teachers and staff and school very much--I do, but it never ceases to surprise us how, after five years at the place, his teachers just still can't grasp the fact that we don't GET any information about school from L.--no information at all. And even if we did, no child would willingly share the fact that he has spent several science classes in a row working on a detailed pencil-sketch reproduction of the Battle of Geonosis.

"I'm worried about middle school next year," L.'s resource teacher gravely told us. I stared at her in blank confusion--the way you do when someone states the obvious.

"Join the club," I said, forcing a laugh.

Things have been tough for us lately. Or, I should say, they've been very tough for L. and, as a result, very tough for us. Lately I find myself consumed entirely by the crisis-at-hand. I fall asleep thinking about what to do, and wake up with the same thoughts on my mind, as if I spent the night--unconsciously--turning them around and around, wearing a groove in my brain. I drive to work, still thinking, and tears will spring suddenly to my eyes. I forget meetings, and get the number of copies I need for class wrong, and spill tea all over my keyboard at work. Other times I laugh with my colleagues, I teach my classes, I grade papers, I tell people who ask that my day is going "just great" when it's not, really.

I know why people turn to signs and symbols and prophecies when they face tough decisions. They want the situation taken out of their control. They want an answer handed down to them from above, or if not that, to feel the matter has been taken effectively out of their hands.

Well, that's alright then, they can say. It's not my decision to make.

I drove past a middle school the other day--one that L. may go to. I held my breath and waited for some sign, some feeling that would tell me the choice had been made--not by me, but by some other force more powerful--wiser, too. I parked the car and sat for a moment, and imagined L. there, at that school. I imagined him walking up the curved front path. I felt a little panic beat in me, like a moth batting against a window. I swallowed it down.

It's just school, some people might say to me. Not a life or death decision. But it feels like so much more. I can't shake the feeling that it is so much more. For us, the decision feels like everything, for many complicated, painful, difficult reasons.

It feels too much to be both trying to fix the disaster that is the here and now, and safeguard the future, too.

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I came across two links to blog posts that resonated with me so much this week. This one (oh, I have so much to say about this!) came via a good friend of mine, and this other one I found while clicking around some favorite reads. They both really hit home, and I am grateful they were written, and came my way this week.