After weeks of agonizing, debating, praying and researching, Erin and I made the painful but necessary decision to move the kids from the only school they’ve ever known to someplace new.
In three weeks, Sean and Duncan won’t be starting school at St. Joseph’s in Haverhill. Instead, they’re going to St. Augustine’s in Andover.
We love the St. Joe’s community and always will. But the bottom line is that both boys have extra needs the school simply isn’t equipped to provide. Sean needs more of an academic challenge in the next two years, as he sets his sights on getting into a prestigious, private high school. Duncan needs an environment better equipped to meet the needs of his IEP (Individualized Education Program). St. Joe’s has struggled to do what’s needed for a child with ADHD.
We’re excited to send them to St. Augustine’s, which has many more resources to meet those needs. But getting to that decision was hard. And telling the kids was even harder.
Like many parents, we instinctively want to shield our children from trauma. Few traumas are greater to kids than being sent to another school, particularly when they’ve been in the same place since pre-school. As expected, they were upset when we told them. There were tears and protests. We were emotionally spent by day’s end.
The next morning, we took them to the new school for admissions testing and a tour. We spent more than half the morning there, and by the time we were done, the kids were smiling. They still have their anxieties about the unknown. They are not jumping for joy, and they won’t be. But by the time we left, I think they knew this was for the best and that they were going to be just fine.
They know they’ll make new friends, and we’ve made it clear that we’ll help them stay connected to their St. Joe’s friends. Doing so won’t be difficult. We’re still parishioners of the school’s parent church, All Saints. Sean is still part of the church youth group and will see many of his friends there. And both boys are still Scouts, which will ensure another level of continuity.
In the final analysis playing it safe was unacceptable to us. Kids are going to have tough experiences in their lives and need to learn to roll with it. As parents, we have to give them our time and attention and help them stay on the right path. But we also must take occasional risks, upsetting the balance in the face of opportunity, teaching them to do the same.
And so we have.