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Those are words that I never thought I would ever say. My husband and I are smug city dwellers. We’ve called either The Hill (Capitol Hill, that is) or Brookland home for the 13 years we’ve been together. We scoffed at the lines of cars piling in from NoVa on 395n. We turned up our noses at staid suburban life and the “sheeple” who spend three hours of their day in a car on the way to/from work.
But...now I am one of them.
I load the kid up at 7:30am, haul ass down route 50, turn south near Bowie, and soar deeper into the countryside. I slow down just enough for the kid to EJECTOR SEAT and then Mario Andretti it back into the city. I work at an office a mere 3 miles from my house and I’m putting 80+ miles a day on my car for what I hope will be worth every moment spent in traffic.
Why I am subjecting myself to the cruel world of commuting?
Because it means a better quality of life for my 8 year old daughter. It means she can attend a Sudbury School. Never heard of it? Me neither... until 3 weeks ago. And now I am SO drinking the Kool-aid.
After 5 years in public school, Lucinda was falling into a troubling pattern all too common for those who run at higher vibrations. Impulsivity, refusing to tow the party line, emotional outbursts, and bucking the system are just the tip of the iceberg. “She’s so smart,” her teachers would complain, “but she won’t do worksheets, slow down, or show her work. She won’t sit still on the carpet, she walks out of the classroom, she’s defiant. The other kids think she’s weird because she’s always behaving in unexpected ways.”
As a parent, what can you do? Get a diagnosis (ADHD), lock in an IEP, try Ritalin, and work with a therapist. Brace yourself for the calls from camp counselors, teachers, and parents of her classmates. Read everything you can about modifying your child to fit into other's comfort zones and arbitrary definitions of “good.”
Or… take the road less traveled.
Consider a place that un-teaches the time-honored tradition of “Sit! Stay! Shut up and learn!”: the model of education that primes us for the cramped cubicle, restaurant shift, or the rigid routine of the Army.
Instead, jack up your odometer for your child to participate in a “free range” school. A place where she isn’t MADE to sit still, she can run unbridled around a 12-acre campus. A community where the philosophy is simple: Love to read? Do it. Want to learn about fossils? Take a walk with founding staff member Mark to the stream. Thrive in a place that champions personal responsibility, deep conversation, and independent study — in lieu of chronic standardized testing and the occasional mind-numbing field trip.
I wish everyone had the chance to experience a Sudbury school. For most of us — mere mortals subjected to traditional education — we’ve got some seriously limiting beliefs to get over before we can find our purpose and live our best life.
The lessons that I am learning through Lucinda’s experiences have shaped the way that I CAN think about work. I am inspired to nurture our own tribe vibe at Sisarina, one that’s equal parts independence and accountability.
Not ONLY because she gets the freedom to stop taking meds, going to therapy, AND stop getting hundreds of negative messages all day, but because she will not emerge from her childhood like I did, full to the brim with “shoulds” and “musts” and “or elses.”
She won’t have to restructure everything she learned about blending in, achieving good grades, and getting into the best college. She won’t know the agony of Middle School, where burgeoning hormones and budding academic stresses combine into a perfect shitstorm. She won’t be shackled with outdated concepts of who holds the cards in her future. She’ll walk into the world as a girl who knows what she wants and the confidence in herself to manifest it. That’s what she’ll learn at Fairhaven School. Don’t we all wish we could live our lives this way?