Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mommy's Lesson on the First Day

When we moved to Costa Rica, our firstborn was only three months old.  I was not thinking very specifically yet about what we would do for education (although that was a question our families asked us a lot!).  Then, we moved to our small town, where there are really only four schooling options: the public school, a private Spanish-only school, a private bilingual school, and homeschooling (which has some very strict legal limitations here).  When thinking about the various options back in that baby/toddler stage, I was pretty convinced that the one option we would not choose would be the private bilingual school.  And, where do our kids go now?  Yep, the private bilingual school!  The decision was made basically by a process of elimination; none of the other options were a good fit for us here and at this timeMy dream situation here would be a Christian school where parents can be really involved, much like the one that I attended... however, that option does not exist where we are.

When that 3-month old firstborn became an almost 6 year old ready for kindergarten, we were in the States on a home assignment.  I homeschooled him for that first part of kindergarten, which was a great fit for us as we traveled.  I loved it!  But, when we returned to Costa Rica, we made the decision to enroll our son in kindergarten and our daughter in pre-kinder at the bilingual school.  On the first day of school, I was so worried about how the kids would react to going to school after being homeschooled and with us constantly during our time in the States.  But, it turned out that Mommy was the only one who cried that day.

It also turned out that I had the biggest lesson to learn that day.

walking into school on the first day, when I started to tear up
I have to admit -- I did more than just a little crying after dropping the kids off.  I did a.lot.of.crying.  Like go home and completely lose it and sob and sob and sob while pouring out my confused little heart to my most likely very overwhelmed husband.  Looking back, I'm bit surprised by my strong reaction, but I also understand that the emotions had as much to do with all of the emotions of returning to life in Costa Rica as it did with the kids going to school.  Sending them to school was just a reminder of how our decision to live and minister in Costa Rica changes so many of our life's decisions.  I really loved homeschooling, and I think it's likely we would homeschool if we lived in the States.  Here, though, we feel strongly that our kids need to gain fluency in Spanish to be able to be fully part of our community and that the best way to do that, for now and for our family, is for them to attend a local school.    Homeschooling or a Christian school may still be in our future, but, for now, (which is really all I need to know right now!), they are attending this school to learn Spanish.  We are grateful to have such a great school to send them to here.  But, still, it was hard for me as I wrestled with how our decision to live here affects our decision on how to educate our kids.  And, it was hard to feel like while the bilingual school was a good option, it was several items down on my list of ideal options.

As I calmed down on that first day of school, I was reminded of something I've had to learn over and over again as a missionary wife and mom... I cannot compare my life here to what I think my life would be if we lived in the States.  That's not our life.  This - living and working in Costa Rica - is our life, for now and for as long as God wants us here.  So, we make the decisions that work best for our family and for the life and ministry God has placed us in.  Comparing and contrasting with what life in States looks like (or, really, what I think it might look like!) does nothing but make me lose the joy that I can have in this amazing life God has given us in Costa Rica.  And, I love this life!  How cool is it that our kids get to grow up learning a second language and being part of this beautiful culture?  Now, more than a year from that first day of school, I daily see the benefits the kids have gained as I hear them speaking Spanish more confidently, and, as our local friends tell us, with a perfect Costa Rican accent!  I also have been blessed with many friendships with moms at the school, providing opportunities to share my life and testimony with a group of women I never would have known if our kids were not at that school.

The kids may have learned some new Spanish words and some new letters on the first day of school, but it was Mommy who learned the most important lesson of the day.

We're thankful how this school has allowed our whole family to learn more about Costa Rican culture.

Do you struggle with imagining what your life could look like if you were still in your passport country?  Has a lack of education options in the place you serve led you to choose something less than your ideal for your kids' schooling?  We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I have made those comparisons, and I try to remind myself that there are advantages and disadvantages everywhere. I never really wanted to homeschool, but we're in our seventh year now. And it has turned out to be something we enjoy (most of the time, anyway.)

    Our plan for education was to have our kids in public school and be involved in the community. If there wasn't a good public school, we would look for a good Christian or private school Homeschooling was a last resort *cue move to Congo*

    We were in an isolated area, and even if I had wanted to do boarding school, it would have meant we only saw our kids in the summers. Our town was only 1-2 hour plane ride to the capital, but commercial flights were unreliable, and sometimes non-existent. There is a road through jungle & swamps that is passable at times, but never really safe. At one point, after not leaving town for 6-8 months, we had to charter a flight out to get back for our home assignment in the US. I didn't want to do boarding school, so that was OK, but it even limited resources for homeschool.

    We planned for our times in the US to be July-June every time, but life hasn't worked out that way. We are always doing some international move in the midst of a school year.

    There are things that I sometimes wonder about- long term affects of the isolation or the continuous transition and some other things. But our kids are doing great overall- now they are in 4th 7th, & 10th grade. They've had some incredible experiences that many kids growing up in the US never get to have. They know more about world history, geography and current events than most adults. We do our best, and when I'm doubting, I try to think that God is preparing them and shaping them to become a person He can use.