How It Really Felt to Send My Kids Back to Public School

At first I thought there was no way I'd post anything about the first few weeks of school.  I knew what an intensely emotional time it would be.  Then I remembered that this is what I'm good at.

I show people my "crazy" so they can understand themselves.  This is the reality of sending kids to school in our culture.

Day 1:

8 AM -  I am sick-to-my-stomach nervous as I walk the kids to their classrooms.

9 AM - My dog is very confused because I am pleading with him to get out of his crate and let me hold him.  He lays his old gray snout in my hands while I cry a little.

9:30 AM - I am overwhelmed with emotions, so I decide to write this.

NOON - Several people call and text to ask me how I'm doing.  Sometimes I tell a white lie and say, "Pretty good!"  Sometimes I say, "I am freaking out!"

1 PM - I play Wii for an hour in the basement because I can use the good remote and I don't have to share.

2 PM - I am sweaty and decide to stick my head in the freezer.

2:15 PM - I have eaten a carton of ice cream.

2:30 - I realize that I can watch t.v. shows...on the couch...uninterrupted, but it feels strange to just do one thing, so I simultaneously play on my phone and start making a list of things to do tomorrow.

3:15 - I begin to wonder how long I will wait for the kids to get home before I call the school, or police, or National Guard.

3:30 - I see them walking toward the house and I shout in an unnaturally high tone, "You're Home!"

3:30-8:30  My head spins as I try to take in all the stories and papers and new rules.

9 PM - Michael and I sit down and hold hands and just breathe.

Day 2:

This is awesome!  I have so much stuff that I have been wanting to do!

I go to the grocery store by myself.

I see all our old homeschool books piled up on the shelves and it stabs my heart.  I stuff it down.

I paint some walls.

I relish the clean, quiet space that my house can be.

The day seems to pass very quickly.

The kids get home.  They bicker and jab at each other for hours.  I want to cry because they are tired and they smell weird and I can't believe how much they've changed in 2 days... And I don't want any of these people in my house.

Josie tells me that she got reprimanded on the playground for sitting near a door.  The monitor said, "You should know better.  You're in 5th grade."  She had no idea what she had done.

I can see that she is beginning to lose trust in the adults around her.  I imagine her smoking cigarettes in 7th grade, sneaking out to party in high school,... This was a HUGE mistake.  I traded away our freedom and happiness and bought into the MAN's evil plan to indoctrinate our children.  I will lose my children to the hateful world!

Michael gets home and his look says, "Are you riding the runaway train in your head again?"

We laugh and I realize it has only been 2 days.  We will all need more time to adjust.

The First Week of School

Our kids have been in school for several days now. 

During the day it has been blissfully quiet in the house, and strangely empty, too. I wring my hands a little and my stomach ties itself in knots, but then I breathe and remember they will do great. I have reorganized and labeled precisely 4,000 objects in our basement, done hours of yoga, and baked a grain-free raspberry tart, homemade fruit leather, and fruit gummies. My Chihuahua is also confused by all the attention he is getting now.

Here is the rundown:

Mornings and evenings are spent talking, checking lists, and packing bags. 

My fifth-grader said some of the girls in her class “looked 14 and wore high heels!” She has made friends with several girls and boys and has already asked to join a club. It took exactly 4 days for a group of girls to call Josie “a Baby” and give her a mocking hug while laughing in her face.  I realized that she has forged a beautiful armor of lightness because the way she described it - she just tilted her head and looked at those girls in the face with no anger.  She read their group dynamics and dismissed them.

My third-grader has gotten lost 3 times, forgotten a PIN number, a workbook, and his snack, and learned about the moon. He has realized that his highly intellectual mind struggles with ordinary daily tasks.  He is mostly even on the surface and loves that he finds his homework easy, but he has erupted a few times.  I nearly lost my composure when Josie told me about the end of their first day.  All the kids met in the gym to find their siblings at dismissal time.  When Charlie spotted her, he shouted, “Josie!” and ran and hugged her tight.

My first-grader has recorded his teacher’s outfit in minute detail each day and describes it to me first thing when he gets home.  He delights in his classmates’ names. He says them over and over.  He dumps out his backpack and waves all his papers in my face, re-enacts several events from his school day, playing the parts of every person with intense drama and precise body language.  Then he reminds me that he is still really mad at me and his daddy for making him go to school.  He says, “I have to be there for an HOUR!”

Nights are spent revealing new fears and confessing that they aren’t sure they can do this. 

My prayer is that my children’s hearts are protected in the face of challenges -- that they accept themselves and others, and that they forge stronger love and confidence.

To my surprise, I figured out that our goal as a family is the same whether we are homeschooling or not:

Grow your light. 

We did it! Back to School!

In Kundalini Yoga there is an intensely beautiful meditation called Long Ek Ong Kars.

Ek is chanted powerfully and quickly drawing the navel point in.

Ong is chanted through the nose as a long, sustained vibration.

Kar is chanted through the mouth for an equally long time until the end of your breath.

The first time I practiced this meditation I was delighted by the feeling of my breath and heart opening up in the transition from "Ong" to "Kar".  It's difficult not to smile when chanting it.

Mirroring my spiritual journey with yoga and meditation, I recently decided that the scales had tipped in favor of sending my kids back to public school. We had spent a few years huddled up, learning who we were, and loving each other without distractions. That time was over.

We enrolled them, bought supplies, prepared them mentally, drilled multiplication facts, and said prayers.  And then we waited for several weeks.


Today I walked each of my kids to their classrooms for their first day of school -- no longer my students in homeschool, but still my beloved children -- knowing that they are loved and protected, but also confident to break out on their own. 


After I released my third child into her classroom, I found myself standing in the middle of the finite and the infinite on a single grain of sand, which is the only place for me.  I can only be myself.  I am I AM.

Perfectly vulnerable, but also powerfully protected.

Perfectly loving, and perfectly loved.

Inhale. Exhale. Move your feet, Sach Indra. It's time to go.

I met a good friend in the hallway as I walked back to the entrance alone.  She was sending 3 of her 4 kids to school today, too. We both had red, watery eyes and big smiles. 

I watched lots of other parents releasing the gifts that God gave them into the hands of people who will care for them in an equally important, but different way.  It was moving.

Parents brimmed with pride, snapped photos, and waved goodbye to giant backpacks waggling on the backs of little bodies.

When people ask me why we decided to make this change, it's hard to answer, but I know that I sent my kids back to school today with a renewed ability to accept imperfection, hurts, and changes that bring uncertainty.  

I also understand that I will remain the biggest influence in their lives if I choose to be.  Although my oldest will soon look to her peers more than me, I will be doing and loving and speaking in ways that model love for her.

The most exciting part is that "Ek Ong Kar" is only the first line of the Long Ek Ong Kars meditation.  There are more mantras to live and many repetitions.

Sat Nam.  Siri...   

Wahe Guru!

P.S.  A cool thing about the word "guru" or teacher:  In Gurmukhi it translates as "one who brings light to the darkness."  I think we should start calling school teachers "dispellers of darkness".