Well, the point in my son's life that I have been anticipating since I enrolled him in Catholic School for his kindergarten year has arrived. Tomorrow my baby starts as a freshman at Catholic High School! I have been scraping, saving, scrimping, pushing, begging, borrowing and stealing for this day for 9 years.
We moved back to "the big city" a few months before he started kindergarten. I looked into his future and saw a few things that I did NOT want to happen. The first thing was that I did not want for him to move around from school to school like I did. The second was that I did not want him to attend the same public high school that I did.
When we moved back to this town, it was because I had bought a house (on my own, but with a lot of help). I thought for sure I would never move out of that house for any reason, but I know my old buddy, Murphy's Law, and knew I needed to plan ahead. Even though the district that my house was in had one of the best grammar schools in the town, I knew that he would eventually end up in one of the only two crappy junior highs, and eventually the high school (where metal detectors and armed security guards are not unheard of).
My son had been with the same daycare provider, Miss Anna, since he was four months old. As she was on the other side of town, the bus system would not transport him to her house after a public school half-day kindergarten program in our district. The only option would have been having him dropped off at a generic "Kinder-Care" type of place. For a half-day they wanted to charge me twice what I paid for a full day at Miss Anna's, plus extras for snow delays, school cancellations and holidays.
There is nothing wrong with day-care centers, but J was used to being in a home with a woman who loved him and he was comfortable there. Miss Anna's own children went to a local Catholic school, and was already on the bus-line. That school also had a full day kindergarten. Snow delays and cancellations were no problem, because no matter what time I dropped him off, he was already there. So I enrolled him. That way, also, no matter where I moved, if I had to, and I did have to, he was always at the same school.
Money has always been tight. I was incredibly lucky that my son's paternal grandfather offered to help with tuition for quite a few years. After that, the school provided some scholarship assistance. Two years ago they agreed to just take $10.00 a week from me as that was all I could afford - for both tuition and the after-care program. Miss Anna couldn't keep him forever, she can make more money having a full time baby, and God bless her for all that she did for us.
Late last fall we started making the plans to get him into the Catholic High School in town. It is not a guarantee that just because your mom has told you since you were in kindergarten that you are going to go to this school, or that you went to one of the local Catholic grammar schools that you will get in to this high school. My son had to write essays, and fill out paper work, and show extracurricular activities and public service hours.
He struggled because some of his friends make the High Honor rolls easily, and he tries and hasn't made one yet. That is the way of the world. Also, he lacks in extracurricular activities. He tried clarinet for one year and hated it. He did Boy Scouts for about 3 minutes and hated it. He did midget football for one year and loved it. So he talked up the sports aspect, and the fact that he loves children and might want to get a teaching degree. He also went to a Red Cross certified babysitter training course, and is certified to give CPR to both children and adults.
I also had to write essays and fill out forms, mostly begging for financial assistance. I would have stopped just short of selling my soul to the devil to get my son in to this school. I should not have worried! He aced the test! We had to wait almost 5 weeks to find out, but he aced the test! First we got his acceptance letter. Then I got a letter letting me know that they were giving him a scholarship for 2/3 of the tuition. I sat down HARD - and cried.
Seeing my son and his friends at their eighth grade graduation was so worth it. Many of these kids had been together since kindergarten. This was what I wanted for him. A sense of belonging, of having life-long friends.
I still have to pay about a third of the tuition, plus uniforms and books and school supplies, and football stuff. But I continue to believe myself lucky. I NEVER would have been able to do the whole tuition. My attitude was, let's see if he gets in, I'll worry about the rest after. My boss, who's daughter is also going to be a freshman at the same school this year, bought my son his $125.00 required calculator for algebra. Then I got a letter saying the town has a new text loan program for Catholic schools and I qualify to get one book free. I went to pick it up and it was the most expensive book on the list - for FREE. I love FREE! Then my boss's wife let me know she had received some very gently used shirts from someone who went to the same school, so I only had to buy J a few pairs of pants to start school. I can put off the most expensive uniform items for a month!
Oh, and did I mention, when my son was in Arizona, my sister's fiance bought J his football cleats? I am truly blessed. And I don't even really believe in the Catholic religion. I just feel there is something helping my son be a better person. That is something I can believe and have faith in - forwarding my son out in to the world. Maybe I don't have a purpose, but he does.
By the way, have I ever mentioned that if I had known he was going to be this cute, I would have named him Christoper Robin?
19 hours ago