I have said it before, and I'll say it again (now that we've done it twice)—moving with children is NO JOKE. Not because they can't roll with it, but more often because we can't.
The time suck of finding a new pediatrician, a new family dentist, a new babysitter, and GASP—a NEW school (with open spots) is overwhelming and down right scary. When we decided to move to LA, we were so late to the game of applying and registering for schools that many of the admissions' offices assumed we were touring for the 2018-19 school year. I've never felt more delinquent in my life, nor have I ever appreciated the sandbox scene from Baby Boom more.
I really tried to keep my cool—believing and praying that something would fall into place. Reminding myself daily that nothing is forever and that these decisions are more often than not, very 1st world problems.
We toured a variety of private schools, and miraculously, we were accepted to a couple of our top picks. (Perhaps the early bird doesn't always catch the worm!)
But alas, a week before we had to make our final commitment to the school—complete doubt set in. Neither of the private schools felt right. And the thought of us writing a $$$ check for something that didn't feel like a 'home run' made me sick at my stomach.
I felt lost and trapped. Crazy as it sounds, I almost forgot that there might actually be public school options for us. (I feel pretty confident that those of you in big cities will appreciate the ridiculousness of that statement).
I spent hours on the computer scouting public schools and charter schools remotely close to us. I read about loop holes for families living in DTLA and ways to get your Cali kids into better school zones. I found nothing.
I thought about all the changes that we've put Olive through. Even in utero, we moved her from Beijing back to the US when I was 34+ weeks pregnant. Then, we ripped her from Momo and all her Kentucky comforts at 2 1/2 years old to move to SLC. 3-weeks after her 4th birthday, we sprung another massive surprise on her, and we packed up for California. Throw 2 separate 10-week long cross-country road trips in the mix, and you've got one on-the-go little trooper. I couldn't bear the thought of not finding a sustainable school solution for her that she would love, that would engage her, and that would make her a better person.
It was the thought of her first move (in the womb) that gave me the inspiration to google 4 little words...
mandarin. immersion. los. angeles.
Of course many things came up in the search—but after doing a lot of deep digging, I found our diamond in the rough, a public Chinese Immersion program with solid reviews near our loft.
I downloaded the paperwork (there was a lot involved to get her released from our "zoned school and into an un-zoned school).
I submitted it.
I heard nothing.
I didn't give up.
I called the principal.
I spoke only in Mandarin.
He didn't respond in Mandarin. He didn't really respond at all except to say, "We're full. You're too late."
I didn't give up.
I called the principal again.
No luck. "No spots," he said.
I asked my mom's bible study group to pray for a spot.
5 minutes later, the principal called me back. "Mrs. Hutchinson, we will find a spot. We will make it work. We would love to have your daughter, Olive in our program."
Never underestimate the power of Southern women who pray together—especially the ones who also occasionally say, "sh*t" (politely of course) and never judge others.
Tomorrow is Olive's first day at our new school.
She's calm as a cucumber, and I'm a big ball of nerves. She's all, "I'm going to make new friends tomorrow, mama!" And I'm all, what if she sits by herself at lunch? Gulp. Double gulp.
I feel in my gut that this was the right decision. That giving her the gift of another language, surrounded by people that don't all look exactly like her is exactly the right call. But if I am totally honest with myself (and with you), there is a small part of me that feels incredibly unnerved by the fact that our private pre-schooler, accustomed to a 1:5 ratio, is heading to a Downtown Los Angeles public school tomorrow where more than half of the kiddos in her class have a native tongue that is not her own.
To any you mamas going through similar back-to-school jitters—I'm here for you. Please don't judge me if you see me drinking beer at noon on Tuesday (aka tomorrow) at a bar that faces a giant car wash...on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Please note, comments must be approved before they are published