Its Monday morning. The house is quiet. Our two older kids are at school.
And I think: thank fuck!
I bitch and whine and whinge and moan about school. About the amount of colouring in, religious dogma, early mornings, lack of creativity and imagination...
But here's what I love about it. Last week I was sick all week. And someone else had my kids all day. Took care of them and even taught them some stuff. For free. And I didn't have to feel guilty about asking favours or plonking them in front of the TV.
Do you remember my annual back to school jitters, which this year found us a hair's breadth from quitting and home schooling? Ironically, the thing that perhaps confirmed our need to continue with school was a post written by a home schooling friend about ten reasons you shouldn't home school. We fit 8 of them.
So in the spirit of joy pockets, I want to honour the good in our current educational choices.
1) My children can read, write, spell and add really well. In this world where even a basic education is still a luxury that so many children do not have access to, the fact that we get this for free is nothing to sniff at.
2) It gives us structure to our days, which I know would be lovely not to have some days. But being the structure setter every day is tiring. And if we don't have a plan my kids don't get dressed and we don't do anything. Which is not OK with me on a daily basis.
3) Someone else has responsibility for if my kid can read, count, recognise the flag of Namibia and speak pidgin Irish. And do cross country races. And algebra. Cos all these things are important, right?
4) The parents. What a wonderful, caring, supportive bunch they are at our school. Love 'em.
5)The garden - a strange one, but true. Gotta love a school with a veg garden, kid made scarecrows, hens and a compost heap. And fields to play in.
6) A school where big and little kids play together. Where everyone knows everyone else. Where the principal knows my daughter's name in the first two weeks. Where we all feel safe.
7) My children get to learn about and from other adults who have different strengths, skills, characters and knowledge to me.
8) The range of activities is so much larger than I can offer at home.
9) Very importantly for me and my cautious kiddies: they, and we, are stretched out of our comfort zones. We do stuff that we might not try at home, or that we might not persist with if we were following our own whims. This actually is a good thing.
10) School's so close. Less than five minutes walk. No car journeys, we walk thru the seasons. And I can pop in to see them at break time, just because I love them and they're mine. And that's OK.
11) They don't have to put up with me all day. And when we get together again in the afternoon we have more time, love and enthusiasm for each other.
12) I get my work days. I cannot tell you how important they are to me.
13) And I get lovely quiet one to one mornings with my little Ash. Which is especially important as she's the third child. So we get to do play group, play dough and nursery rhymes.
So I am grateful. Very grateful.