Part 4 on being a Ccd Mama (what’s a Ccd mama) by Diane Miller
One of our biggest disappointments with choosing public schools came with corporate job relocation. Our daughter started school in a neighborhood Chicago public school, then we job-transferred to suburban LA (Corona, CA). We chose public school there as well, because of our commitment to living & loving in blended community. But, after 4 years, we were relocated once again back to Chicago. This is a normal part of what many families do when the family wage earner takes a corporate America job. However, the drastic cultural change, even state to state within the U.S., is most hard on the home manager and children, because their whole support system is uprooted. It also affects a child’s identity by realigning their sense of belonging into a new and different environment where they are not deeply known and have no sense of belonging. Western culture accepts this as part of a normal economic prosperity path. But, we have now lived some of the not so great consequences of the lack of continuity and identity from a sense of deep belonging in one same community, per this story.
Moving backed to Chicago after 4 years in Cali, we thought going back to our original Chicago school would be great. There would be kids our daughter knew and a familiar school culture. Unfortunately, it was not great. After 4 years in suburbia, our daughter was not ready for the inner city toughness that the city kids brought into the 6th grade. She was bullied weekly, sometimes daily, by kids who knew how to get under her skin, as she was the nice girl, who behaved well and wanted to learn. Well, after 5 months in her 6th grade classroom, she was traumatized to the point of emotional breakdown… it was a nightmare! We met with the school principal several times, hoping for some resolution to our daughter’s unacceptable classroom scenario. However, the principal’s only proposed intervention was remedial tolerance training for our daughter. We were shocked by both her advice and moral stance (are you kidding, our daughter’s classroom is out of control!). We knew we had to pull her out of the school. The environment was debilitating to her, not healthy or enriching.
It was heartbreaking for both her and us. So, we made the decision that I would home school for healing to finish the school year and see how it went. Well, it went pretty well, mainly because a few home school mamas we knew fully embraced and included us in their home school community (thank you, friends!). Though, with a hormonal preteen and a menopausal mom, we mutually decided we would not continue with home schooling (just being real!). We explored many options and decided to enroll her in a small private parochial school in 7th grade that Fall. It was not fully in alignment with our family mission trajectory, as private school world is not very diverse. In general, private schools are full of kids whose parents are resourced enough to either fill out scholarship paperwork or to both finance and transport their kids to the schools.
Even though this was a very stretching life chapter, we learned much. And, we saw our daughter heal and flourish. Again, being real, I saw that she was often more comfortable with kids who both looked and lived a resourced life similar to her… it seems, by human nature, we all feel more comfortable with people that have our same lifestyles. Homogeneity seems to breed a big comfort factor with our humanness. As well, our gal also felt respected by both kids and teachers who seemed to have a value base similar to our family.
Time moves on and today she is back in a very blended public Chicago high school. By current academic standards, she’s an A/B student, on-track to go to her college choice. Though I must add, our family still values character, community and creativity development on an equal level with academics, even though we have a Western cultural system that tends to value academics above everything else!
One concept we especially learned is that some days you need homogenous community to feel safe, or just get recharged from the grueling parts of life that are not homogenous, or comfortable. And, some days you also have to choose what is right for your kid to feel comfortable too, both to learn and flourish wholistically in school. It is a constant balancing tension for those of us called to live by different societal norms. And, we continue pressing in, aspiring to listen, learn and relearn many things we have come to accept as normal by our educated and privileged standards.
Many days I do honestly pine for a comfortable life in a homogenous-resourced neighborhood – to live with folks who have many choices and similar social values (& a lot more means). But then, I realize my lifestyle could quickly become predictable and more about what I was afforded or entitled because of my work or privilege. There would be so much less blended real-life people mix exposure in a neighborhood that is safe and/or pleasingly comfortable. It is how I grew up in a small town and I was always bored, pining to meet more interesting, different people and experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I still think kids need to feel somewhat comfortable and safe to learn. But, they also need to know how to stretch outside of the homogenous cultural norm of their own family as a citizen of our modern world… How else can they truly learn to love others as Jesus modeled?
PS ~ If y’all are interested in more stories of living different, check out my friend, D. L. Mayfield’s blog series on Downward Mobility.