I have five kids at home again.
Victoria’s foray into the world of public schooling didn’t last long. While P*rpich is a great school, it was not a good fit at all for my nontraditional girl or what we wanted for her.
Among the reasons:
- There was no Wi-Fi in the dorms and cell service was iffy, so she was quite cut off from outside friends and family. While Victoria travels away from home a lot, we always stay in touch and do lots of chatting and such, plus she uses the net to stay in contact with many of her friends and to keep up with what’s going on in the world. She had very limited access to family, friends and the internet. None of that is ideal for my kid (or me).
- We were assured that her gluten allergy wouldn’t be an issue (“She’ll just have to pick the foods that don’t have gluten”) but lunch generally consisted of plain lettuce.
- The days were LONG. She registered in the spring for her morning (academic) classes and was told that her afternoon (media arts) classes would be assigned. We knew that the mornings started at 8 a.m. but she found out how long the day was only after she got there. Every day went from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. — over 8 hours. From there, she generally needed to head to the computer lab to do homework before it closed. Once the semester got into full swing, it would have been even longer with the level of projects and homework assigned. I was quite surprised that the schedule was more rigorous than my college years, for sixteen and seventeen year old kids.
- While the school specializes in the arts, it is still a very traditional high school. For a kid who grew up with lots of autonomy and empowerment, this was major culture shock.
- The kids were really on their own in the dorms. While there were lots of policies in place to keep them safe and control them (curfews, rules, guards, all meds and supplements had to be locked up with the nurse….), there was very little adult support. When Victoria had a minor crisis the first night and was trying to figure out how to get some supplies she needed by morning (without a car, a store within walking distance, or family less than 3 hours away), I suggested talking to the “dorm mother.” I was quite surprised to hear that no adults had introduced themselves to the kids at any point as someone to come to if they needed help or support. The kids seemed to be essentially on their own. Since there were testimonials on the web site from parents who said they felt their children were in such great hands, I was really bothered by this, though Victoria took it in stride.
- Victoria quite simply didn’t enjoy it the way she thought she would. My kid loves to learn. She loves photography. She loves challenges and new experiences. But it was just not the kind of educational and creative environment she expected.
Ultimately, we drove up and got her before the end of the first week. She had already made some really wonderful friends that she’ll miss (though they’re keeping in touch online) but she was really happy to come home. She told me afterwards that she had been sad ahead of time thinking about all of the things she was giving up by going off to P*rpich (travel with us, home, family, freedom, our homeschool adventures…), but she felt that it was going to be worth it because it was going to be such a phenomenal experience. Then, she said, she got there and realized she was giving all of that up for something that she didn’t even enjoy.
I am not one of those parents who makes my kids finish things they start even when they hate them. I had one of those parents, and the only thing it ever did for me was give me panic attacks by grade school.
Her childhood is too short to waste a year of it as some kind of life lesson.
I am all for canceling that wedding at the last minute when you know in your heart it’s a mistake, quitting that job that pays well but kills your soul, and having the courage to say “this is not for me” when an opportunity comes along that looks great on paper but is just not a good choice for you.
Victoria has already heard from a boy at the school who wants to go home but his mom doesn’t know how to help him finish his high school years now. They are looking into online school. I’m glad that Victoria had an educational life waiting for her back home that she could slip back into — one where she can learn and grow and create in ways that feed her soul.
And that means I want to plan some travel sometime soon……