How Will I KNOW? (Don’t Trust Your Feelin’s…)

Bryce is being stifled at school. I know this. It isn’t even a question of whether it’s happening. The question has become how badly it’s happening, how much it’s going to affect him in the long run, how long we can allow it to happen before we step in and do something drastic.

He comes home with papers with nearly everything correct, a red slash here and there but mostly the red check marks that his old-timey-shoulda-been-a-nun teacher uses to indicate correctness. He scoffs at it all, how ridiculous it is that he had to do it. He refuses to read the books that are sent home with him–unless it’s to Juniper, because she is little enough to appreciate how babyish and easy they are. And, with the sickening feeling that’s been present since the dawn of time when a teacher first didn’t like a student, I feel annoyed and resentful. Why isn’t she handling this? Can’t she see how creative and amazing he is? Why is she putting red “wrong” slashes through the extra things he writes on his tests because he has extra time after finishing them? Why isn’t she giving him creative tasks? Why do they have assigned seats at lunch? Why why why???

And now, his behavior at home has finally reached a tipping point. A “we aren’t able to deal with this any longer” kind of tipping point. A “we are in need of some sort of intervention” tipping point. The screaming, you have no idea about the screaming. How much of it there is, how long it can go on, how easy it is to incur it. It’s gotten worse, like a thing he’s holding back all day that has no choice but to erupt violently at night. And he says, sadly, “I don’t want to go to my school any more. My school isn’t a good fit for me.” So sad…to have that realization at age 7.

We think he’s bored and frustrated. We think he needs a different school experience. We think he’s better suited to a school that really nurtures his creativity, his kindness and curiosity, and doesn’t tell him he needs to sit down and shut up and be patient while the rest of the class catches up with him. And there are so many schools like that around here!

The problem? They come with a steep price tag. 

There is one school I think would be a particularly good fit for him–a school aimed at more advanced or “gifted” students (he’d have to have an intelligence test administered to qualify at all) that allows them to be creative and participate in self-directed learning. It also costs about half of what most private schools around here cost. 

The problem? It’s still $14,000 a year. And we have two children. And we can’t very well tell Juniper to go screw if she ends up needing/wanting a better school experience.

Can we afford it? Probably. At least, for just Bryce. And there’s a not-small part of me that is so enamored with all of it–the idea of being part of a non-trashy, intelligent school COMMUNITY where Bryce wouldn’t be expected to shrink to fit the mold cast for him any longer. Would his behavior improve? Would he thrive? It’s totally worth it!

But $14,000 a year. We aren’t even properly saving for retirement. Or college. 

I could go back to work! (I kind of want to. But I kind of don’t want to. And I don’t want to do that ‘just’ to send him to private school. But would it be worth it? Shouldn’t I do it anyway?)

We could swing it! (But it would be tighter…maybe fewer “non-school” experiences, fewer vacations, fewer fun things, more belt-tightening. I hate belt-tightening.)

What about other schools? (I should check them out. But the parochial thing gives me pause…)

I’m just at a weird loss right now. I’m not sure which way to lean. I’ve begun the process of having him tested for a “disability” through school (essentially, something I’m doing because it opens the dialog and gets him free testing), which made me feel like I was violating him somehow. “Hey, kid, I know that you’re probably just advanced and insulted, but how ’bout you hang out and let people make sure you’re not mentally challenged? Or don’t have ADHD or a brain injury or something? Cool?” Ugh. But it’s a first step, at least. Maybe we’ll luck out and be able to get some results this school year (although the Sp. Ed. dept. seems to doubt it…). Maybe we’ll have to spring for an intelligence test elsewhere and use that to open a dialog. Maybe a dialog is beside the point. I just don’t know. I’m barking up all these trees at once, not sure which one the cat is in, or if I even would be able to chase it if it were in some of them.

Also, I’m making funny metaphors. So there’s that.

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