Toodlebug's First Day of Homeschooling 2013

Toodlebug a year ago when, due to a schedule change, we decided to homeschool for the year. Shout-outs to the parents who do that day in and day out. A year later, we were still standing, still speaking, still mother and daughter. However, the table didn’t look nearly as nice.

When I filled out registration forms, you asked me to describe my child, the student who will be entering your classroom this year. I think I wrote something fairly mature-sounding about her energetic personality and sensitive nature. But, truthfully, I wanted to write that after becoming obsessed with the movie Frozen, Toodlebug wants to be Sven. And every time we pass a carrot in the grocery store, she asks if I will buy it for her. She also wants to be about 25 years old, except, to complicate matters, I don’t think she wants to be a 25-year-old reindeer. We have yet to work out the logistics of these two life goals. This is Toodle in a nutshell and why we love her so much.

As you’re about to see, I’m a walking set of contradictions or maybe I just want to have my cake and eat it, too. I have owned a business for seven years. Before I had children, about every other Friday I ran errands all day. It was my time. I didn’t work on projects or answer phone calls from clients because I was doing terribly important things like buying toilet paper and window shopping for new dinnerware. I guarded that time jealously because it was my time to decompress from the unstructured lifestyle that is business ownership.

Once Toodle came along, it was a huge adjustment to take her along. Errands that took no time before having children now took forever. What was once decompression time became almost a chore, what with packing a diaper bag and timing out when her next feeding would be and how many stores we could cram into a two-hour period. Or was it 90 minutes? Well, was that from the time she started her last feeding or finished it? I never knew for sure, and I no longer had the kind of time I wanted to dwell on brands and price points.

Now that Toodle and her sister Twinkleberry have become such an ingrained part of my life, I can’t imagine running errands without them. And now that Toodle is joining you for the day, Twinkle and I will be left to do as a twosome what the three of us have finally mastered. I confess, I’m a little sad about it.

But, here I am with contradictions again. Sad to close one chapter, I am excited for what she will experience in the chapter that is beginning. On some level, I can appreciate it because, in addition to owning a business, I am also a teacher. In fact, I was a teacher before I was self-employed. As a teacher whose classroom comprises adults, I can say the challenges I face with my students aren’t even close to what you face every day. While I talk to my students about business plans and consumer behavior (essentially, adults are tall children who shop for clothes and shoes in different sections of the department store), I don’t have to teach them how to tie their shoes 64 times a day. I don’t have to help them navigate waistbands and shirts tucked into their underwear after bathroom breaks or show them how to blow their noses (that last one is God’s work, bless all of you).

Toodle is going to be very much a part of that crowd. Although she knows everything about the solar system and will spend the next school year telling you as much, if she figures out shoe laces and buttons on pants by 6th grade, I’m calling it a success. Toodle will learn concepts this year that I couldn’t begin to teach her myself. I am joyful for her. I know there will be things she’ll catch on from you just once that K-Hubs and I have tried to show her 27 trillion times. Scissors? Anyone? Bueller? No? There are countless moments when it just takes a teacher’s perspective to help young minds and their parents get it right. Thank you in advance.

Toodle is, after all, her mother’s daughter. Scissors are her Achilles heel. Potty training was mine. My own mom used to tell the story of how I didn’t potty train until about two weeks before preschool started, and I was almost four. Mom mentally packed my school bag with diapers and plastic underwear. And even though I reached that milestone before school started, I still had accidents on the teachers’ dime. Have I shared blessings yet? Well, just to be sure, God bless those teachers. Every time they wrapped my clothes in a baggie, they were most definitely doing God’s work.

Mom was a teacher herself, but that didn’t stop her from worrying about every little thing she didn’t know how to teach me or every little thing I hadn’t mastered. Her nervousness about sending me out into the world wasn’t completely unwarranted. We had been in a car accident when I was 9 months old, hit head-on by a drunk driver. From her stories, it was my teachers who assured her throughout my elementary school years that my development was on track, aside from the fact that while I didn’t want to be a reindeer I did desperately want to be British royalty. They assured her no other residual effects from the car accident were present in the classroom. They suggested my obsession with royalty might come in handy during creative writing. The few times there were residual effects, the teachers spent extra hours with me finding ways to develop my fine motor skills.

That was then. This is now. And although the circumstances have changed, I don’t see much of a difference. Educators are invaluable.

We have had a lot of surprises in the last year and half with Toodle’s health. It has been great to develop a plan with you that covers everything from the summer camp a few months ago to the school year that is about to begin. When I emailed you to say Toodle had been diagnosed with alopecia areata, you immediately responded with, “Please tell me what I need to know and what we can do to help.” You knew it was important to me, and therefore it was important to you.

Then I emailed to say Toodle had been diagnosed with 467 million food allergies, and you said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a student with that many allergies. Please keep me posted, and tell me what you’d like us to do for snack time.” I had to laugh because I’ve never known anyone with as many food allergies either. To help me, you dug out snack calendars for the entire summer camp season so I could prep food for Toodle. Thank you. Really.

Finally, when we made our way to summer camp with Toodle’s special snack in hand, everyone from the parent volunteers to the teenage shepherds knew what to do for her without blinking an eye. I knew she was in a place surrounded by love. I also understood more clearly what my mother went through when I was young.

Toodle might be potty-trained, but there will be hurdles you will jump over with her. Hopefully, you don’t have to wrap her clothes in a baggie. But there will be something. When I see how much preparation you have already put into a school year that hasn’t started, I have no doubt you’ll figure it out together. So, when critics say, well, yeah, but teachers get summers off, they have it so easy, I say, not even close.

Your summer hasn’t been one of total leisure. In addition to camp, the emails you have sent out to let parents know what to expect and when to expect it tells me you are always thinking forward. Always developing new ideas to make the upcoming year a splashing success. Caring for a group of students doesn’t just happen from September to May, nor does it happen from 9:00 to 3:00. I am grateful for all the care you have shown my child, and the year hasn’t even started. It makes it easier for me to give her to you.

I will also confess I am grateful because without those emails and continual reminders K-Hubs and I would have no idea when to actually send Toodle to school. She’s our firstborn and instead of being highly organized, zealous parents who know when school starts and what to pack in the book bag, we are often just clueless. Ask her. She’ll tell you. As you’ll learn, she is…honest. Please, send that email one more time than you think is necessary. I’m printing them all off. It’s unfair to the trees, but I’m trading one vice for another. Sending her to school on the appropriate days seems mighty important.

I do have one request. If you are able to alter time and make it September already, K-Hubs and I would be forever in your debt. Toodle knows she is coming your way, and can’t wait to get to you. Every day she asks if today is the day. To bide her time, she’s now wearing school clothes I bought for fall and winter. Every. Single. Day. She is sweating it out. Literally.

Since I’m guessing you can’t alter time, if you see us sitting in the parking lot for no apparent reason every few days, now you know why.

So I send her your way, complete with thoughts of reindeer, carrots, and planets in her head. She’s super excited, and aside from the pang that comes with letting go, so am I.

As much as I want to say, “Take good care of her,” I already know you will. You already have. As much as I want to say, “Call me if you have a concern,” I already know you will. As much as I want to say, “She is spirited, you should just know that,” I know you already do. So…she’s yours. Oh, and about those scissors? I wasn’t kidding, but then you already knew that.