Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Madness

Most people think of college football.  I anticipated this month to be a life altering month for our family.  Here's what happened:

AJ turned 5 years old.  He is taller, smarter, and more mature each day.  Although he does have some things to overcome emotionally as any new 5 year old does, he's so much more of a rational thinker.  We can go anywhere together.  He's my road warrior.  This is the kid who loves sit down restaurants and the beach.

We thought about a birthday party with school friends.  But, some of my personal fondest memories as a child where not of birthday parties (which I only had a few) with much fanfare.  Besides, birthday parties cost a lot of money and we had bigger fish to fry this month.  We opted for cupcakes and other treats at school.

His fancy hat earned him a trip around the school to show it off.  He was the teacher's helper for the day.  He had his daddy/son time afterward and came home exhausted.  It was a great day.

The next day, we had a play date with his friend Myles.  Later, Family came over to have another birthday celebration.  My oldest brother, Rob, drove in from Iowa which was a special treat.  The kids love their uncles!

So why NOT have a birthday party????

For years, a good friend of mine has been talking a lot about Jack and Jill of America and always said I should join.  Initially, I was hesitant.  The stigma of such organizations tend to be snobby.  Then again, sororities have the same reputation.  I joined a sorority in college so what's the big deal right?.  Once Buddha was of age to enter the organization, I started asking more questions.  The kids and I went to a couple events.  I realized that as long as I had 2 boys living in the city of Chicago I needed to something extra as a mom.  I needed to set the stage so they have less of a chance being a statistic in these rough streets.  So, I applied.  Of course, there are we bypassed the party.  It didn't matter.  AJ had a blast on his birthday weekend.

Lastly, our family have been back and forward for the last few years about schools.  First, it's daycare vs. grandma.  Then, it's which daycare or preschool for the both of the kids.  Then, it's "oh my...AJ will be going into Kindergarten".  WHAT DO WE DO?  Last year, we looked at a ton of private schools for preschool and to transition into mainstream elementary school.  The expense was high.  Was it worth it?  Many schools don't give much of a discount for a second sibling.  So, unless we won the Power Ball or Mega Millions, some of our best offers were sadly declined.  We settled on a nearby Catholic school with a strong history.  A good friend of mine (the same friend by the way) and her husband convinced us to try CPS (for the out of town folks...Chicago Public Schools).  "You never know what you might get."  We decided to go for it and leave the kids together in the same preschool for another year.

The CPS school selection process can be stressful for parents.  The system is full of testing 4 year olds, lotteries, rankings, and neighborhood preferences.  It's down right a hot mess.  Many parents don't bother and automatically enroll into private we did.  My hopes were not high but I researched, ranked, and applied to magnets, gifted/classical programs, and charter schools.  The process is not over but we were offered our number school choice through the lottery.  It is a magnet school here in Hyde Park.  We had proximity preference in the lottery.  Buddha will have sibling preference when we apply for him another year or so.

So many parents worry about test scores and how far the school ranks in the area or the state.  This process of selecting daycare centers, preschools, and elementary schools has answered several questions for Aaron and I.  Will it break the bank?  Will my kid be stressed out in a high pressure environment?  Will my child be well rounded and learn to be flexible and adaptable?  Will a test score really tell me if my child will be successful?  Does it matter if they do not go to private schools like we did?  How far are we willing to commute to send them to school every day?  Will the school really change who they grow up to become?

At the end of the day, we accepted the offer to go to Murray Language Academy.  We have re-enrolled Buddha into his current preschool.  We accepted the invitation to join Jack and Jill of America.  

This month's madness has been WAY too much for me.  Momma needs a break, but a mother's work is NEVER done.

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