Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Too Early

So what's the one thing that's been on my mind since first learning I was pregnant? Education.

Education started with me.

I needed to school myself in taking care of my body to ensure a healthy pregnancy. I took a common sensical approach--if it's bad for you (in other words, if it tastes good), don't eat it.

Once I got that less than fun practice underway, I next learned how to have a baby. Lots of pictures, diagrams, anatomically correct models, and loads of tasteless jokes later, I wasn't what one would call ready, but I knew kind of what to expect.

Then there was the breastfeeding class. Skip ahead to the next one.

The point is, preparing for a baby, for me anyway, was much like preparing for my Masters Comps, except I didn't get three chances with a baby. I only got one shot (anyone else faintly hear Eminem's "Lose Yourself" playing in the background?). I was determined to make it count, and after all was said and done, I'd give myself a B+. ( I totally missed the part in childbirth class about the possibility of the epidural not working.)

Education did not stop with the birth of Jude either. I've gone from learning about baby bathroom habits to learning about clothing sizes to growth percentile charts to , my latest obsession, introduction to solid foods and how to prepare those foods at home (no jar crap for my kid, at least that's my stand for the moment. I've eaten many words since I've become a parent with "pacifier" being the toughest word to chew to date.)

I figure parenting will just be another one of those "continuing ed." courses. There's always something new to learn. Good thing I love school.

All the while I've spent learning how to achieve perfection as a mother (got a looonnnng way to go on that one), I've also dedicated time to Jude's education. Looking for a way to stress yourself to the point of pulling out hair and curling into a fetal position while rocking back and forth? Try comparing different schools' curriculums, tuitions, extra-curricular activities, and classroom/teacher ratios, wait-lists, and that'll do it!

Yep. Jude turned four months old this past Friday, and I've already researched different private schools where he'll start 4-K, driven by them, calculated how much I need to start putting back, picked up the phone and dialed before hanging up after the first ring (for fear someone at the school will discover what everyone else already knows about me--that I'm a weirdo), and mapped out several alternatives of how Jeffrey and I will get him to and from school since both of us commute 30 minutes from our home to work.

Let me back up and explain. Jeffrey and I live in Canton, MS--a place known for its historical Victorian beauty (although, our home is one of the newer ones--a craftsmen style bungalow built in 1924) and terrible public schools. Given that we stay in Canton (and we do really like the area and love our home even more), Jude will have to attend a private school.

Now, don't get wrong. There's always the possibility he will attend Canton Public Schools. See, these four years before he marches off to elementary are his trial run. During this time, Jeffrey and I monitor Jude's behavior and will take it from there. If Jude acts like a good little boy, we'll send him to private school--no questions asked. However, if he decides to turn into a little terror, he will need the survival training that only Canton Public could offer. Simple enough, and so far, Jude's been a perfect angel, as if he already knows Mama and Daddy's scheme.

Jeffrey and I have already selected a school for him--St. Anthony in Madison. We like the school for several reasons. First, Jude has the opportunity to learn our faith, Catholicism, every day, not just at home but in school as well. Second, St. Anthony takes part in the Whole Schools Initiative--a program through the Mississippi Arts Commission that integrates fine arts across the disciplines. My mother did her doctoral studies on this type of curriculum and serves as a field advisor for Whole Schools. In other words, Jude will have a little piece of family history invested in this sort of learning. Third, the student to teacher ratio is small, which is code for "Hurry up and get him on a wait list."

Anyway, of all the schools in our area, we like this one best. Of course, within four years, things could change. We could end up moving, Jeffrey could leave Holmes and take a job in Madison County School District (which has excellent schools as well), Jude could turn into a delinquent and find himself in Canton Public Schools, or we could have a change of heart about some of the other area private schools.

Of course, what we ultimately want is the best education for our child. Unfortunately, the school we really like as of now is expensive but not entirely impossible for us to send him there. Sacrifices will have to be made, but doesn't that hit at the heart of parenthood?

Every day, I compose a prayer for two things: Jude's education and Jude's future wife. I've long ago accepted (begrudgingly so) that my little boy will one day become a man. If these two things fall into place, maybe he'll turn out o.k.

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