Well, it's been a month now, since the great New School Experiment started, and I think I can safely say that it's all good.
He's so happy. It's different, certainly. More work. More tests. More grades. He tucks in his shirt and buckles his belt every morning. He dresses out for PE. He eats a hot lunch (At his old school, his dad packed his lunch everyday and they ate outside - weather permitting - for an hour.) where he's in charge of serving drinks to the second graders and making sure he gets himself fed in about 24 minutes. He changes classes. He has a lot of homework. That's been our biggest adjustment, I think. The amount of work coming home. And it's not as much the amount of work, as the fact that it just takes Callum a long time to do it. And it takes him a long time to do it because he has to stop and tell us things every few seconds. Or get up and walk around. Or have a snack. Or look out the window.
But we worked on it. September is always hard at our house, and we just worked and worked and tried new things and figured it out. October is like turning on a switch, and suddenly homework, our biggest adjustment, is going better too.
He has after-school activities three times a week, and his old karate teacher is at his new school now. Something familiar in a sea of novel moments. His grades are good, great in fact, and we couldn't be more proud. It's fascinating, really. This kid of mine. What would send me into a tailspin of mortification, what could freeze me with fear: grades...well, they excite and challenge him and propel him forward. Pretty much what they are supposed to do. Who knew?
It's still tough sometimes, because simply everything is new. We're still working out just when to leave in the mornings to miss the worst of the traffic and not be too early or too late. But oh, how I love the brevity of our new commute. We skip the carpool line because for now; Callum likes me to park and walk him in. He likes me to be in the lobby waiting at the end of the day too. He may be the only kid in fifth grade to do this, but as long as he wants it, I'm happy to.
But we're lucky too. His best bud, who is also our neighbor on the street, is in his class, and he rides in with themat least once a week. He knows teachers there and other kids. In so many ways his path was smoothed as much as possible, but in many, many others he was made to feel at home and welcomed and part of a family. He's made friends where just a few weeks there were mostly unfamiliar faces. In a month it's become infinitely more comfortable, and by next month it'll be even more so.
It's challenging and exciting, and he comes home saying how many cool things he's learning. When we first embarked on this journey of considering a new school, it was remarkable that we were even considering it. I'd thought Callum would have stayed at his old school forever. It was small and nurturing and familiar. There were many reasons for why we had to leave, all valid, but not unimportant was understanding that just because Neel and I wanted small and nurturing and familiar didn't necessarily mean that Callum needed small and nurturing and familiar. He's proved to us that he doesn't. He's more confident, more responsible and more self-assured. He's like a kid pulling off a too-small sweater. Stretching his arms with delight. It's not that his old school wasn't right. It's just that it wasn't right for him anymore.
One evening a few weeks ago, Callum and I were having our bedtime snuggle. It's where we tuck into his bed for a bit and chat about the day. We do highs and lows and talk over any clashes we may have had as a family. It was still in the middle of the homework struggle, of the learning curve on handling the increased work load, and we'd had a tough evening. We'd managed to work it out though, and Callum said to me that night, with a measure of satisfaction, "Momma, it's hard, but I think that school has me written all over it."
Little man, I couldn't agree more.