21 January 2011

it's going to be more than okay - absolutely

an update::

I'm going to say out loud that even though I vent sometimes in this space... it's not the only light in the picture. There are so many other shapes and shadows and bright colors that intertwine every story I tell you. Even as I picked my guys up from school an hour after I posted on Wednesday about how hard our transition had been - I was waiting at "our table" on campus and Avery (who gets out 30 minutes before the other two) was no where to be found - turns out "sorry mom, I was with my friends" (most beautiful words to my ears after the last three years - go ahead you can cry in joy with me for a moment). Harrison had to break free of a pack of boys to get to me ... and was still being stared out by a couple of giggly girls who stood across the walkway for quite a while. I hear rumors that the talk of the 8th and even 9th grade girls is mostly giggles and oftentimes the "american boy with the blue eyes" is the topic of those giggles. Madyline's friend has an 8th grade sister and he was laughing about how much she & her friends talk about this new boy. And Avery has twice in this first week had girls come up and ask if she's Harrison's little sister... and then been intentionally nice to her. Can I just say - oh dear.

Madyline has already started working at the tuck shop on her breaks (snack shop on campus). She's joined the drama group and journalism staff - and this morning she took pictures of her Valentines Ball dress to show to all the other girls at school. She chose hard classes for her high school path - Physical Science (chemistry) - Life Science (biology) - and History... all in a dream to qualify for an opportunity to study forensic science in university. Although she's smart enough, she has had a difficult time knowing how to thrive in a classroom. Coming from a high school with large classes where you tend to get lost in the shuffle - she was ecstatic to realize that now she only has 18 people in her Physical Science courses. 12 in Life Sciences and only 9 in History... (and oddly enough, her History teacher lived in Grand Rapids for a while). It's like her whole world has opened up with individual attention and a truly nurturing environment that will help her grow and learn how to learn. Last week they took "learning styles assessments" - recognizing that kids (heck, people) have different ways they learn best and that teachers, too, have an individual preference so they tend to teach from their own style. The focus at our new school is to merge the two - recognizing and incorporating stylistic learning into the study paths so everyone is included... and everyone learns to recognize and honor the individuality of others. Amazing. As a family of "square pegs" when it comes to formalized schooling... we are singing over here.

They are doing great. It was a big step for my guys to go to school. Harrison, Avery and I have been home together for the 3 years we've lived here - our entire African experience has been together in a safe and nurturing and relaxed rhythm. There was bound to be some chaotic moments. Homework is one of them. So is getting up at 5 so we can still get our run in. And there are bound to be some broken hearts as they start to relearn how to be in a mass social group every day. But they are great. I am proud of how quickly they have settled in. I am thrilled with the level of nurturing we are already seeing at the school. Yes, initiation was stupid... but it's purpose, however archaic the means, was realized. That group of grade 8 students bonded together (and with the 12th grade class) in a fast and solid way that I can see as he walks across the campus - and I can hear as he talks about his classes. Other than the girl thing, Harrison is, after only one week, no longer the new kid - this is his school.

I'm amazed. Although I'm not sure why it is so surprising to me. I have pretty great kids. And we are following a pretty great God.

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