The next big thing

by DaniGirl on January 12, 2006 · 9 comments

in Uncategorized

I can’t decide if I’m giddy or ashamed. I think I’m somewhere in between.

I’m giddy because I’ve just been on the phone talking to the elementary school where I’ll be registering Tristan in February for the junior kindergarten session that starts in September.

I’m ashamed because I caved in to my own hypocrisy and am registering him in a Catholic school.

Oh, the angst!

There were a few factors that helped me decide on this particular school. Just before Christmas, there was an ongoing series in the daily newspaper about a school’s preparations for their annual nativity pageant. They were about half way through their series, which I think spanned eight or ten days, before I realized it was the school across the street. I read the last few instalments with interest, and realized that the school, with less than 500 students in JK through grade 6, has a fully realized music program and a drama teacher.

An elementary school with a solid arts program. Be still my heart!

And then, on the last day before Christmas, I was talking about the school and the pageant with the boys’ caregiver, Bobbie. Bobbie’s two sons also go to this school, so it makes afterschool care basically a non-issue. I found out that day that the school also offers a French immersion program starting right from junior kindergarten. After my endless years of trying to force my unilingual brain to accept a second language, I am beyond delighted to give my kids a gift like this.

(My mother is less enthusiastic about the French immersion thing. She believes, as I used to, that immersion makes kids jacks of all languages and master of none. But with me as a mother, I think the kids stand a pretty good chance of having a firm grip on the vagaries of the English language, and I can scrape by enough in French to help them with their homework up until the second grade at least. I just have to keep taking lessons myself so I remain a level or two ahead of them!)

Having agonized through the decision-making process, there was only the minor (insert nervous giggle) issue of the fact that the boys are not yet officially Catholics. When I called the school to ask about enrollment processes she said all we need to present are his birth certificate (check!), his immunization record (check!) and his baptismal certificate (sound of crickets chirping).

“Uh, um,” I stammered, knowing that the next three minutes of conversation would probably set the tone for my child’s entire institutional educational experience (who me, hyperbolize?). “We, um, haven’t exactly done that yet. But we’re going to, really soon!” I said, trying to sound as religious as possible.

I could picture Tristan’s file being moved from the glowing white “faithful” pile down the escalator to the “heathen” pile in the basement storage closet.

“Are you or your husband Catholics?” she asked piously. (Okay, scratch that, she asked it nicely. Besides, Stephen King says you shouldn’t use adverbs in attributive dialogue.) And I hurried to assure her that yes, of course we were, while willing myself with my entire being not to keep yapping and tell her about the divorce, Beloved’s lack of confirmation and the many nights I lay awake conflicted by my own doubts about organized religion. “Oh then, that’s no problem,” she assured me. “Just bring in a copy of your baptismal certificate, or your husband’s, and we’ll be on our way.”

(sound of crickets chirping)

Baptismal certificate, eh? I had one, once upon a time. I would have had to present it to get married in the Church, for my practice marriage back in 1989. And I probably left it with the ex-laws, along with all my other important papers, that I ditched in my rush to get the hell out of there back in 1993. I sent Beloved off to scour his keepsake boxes, and while he could come up with his 34 year old baptismal candle branded with the relevant details, I don’t think it would have fit in the photocopier.

In the end, I called the Church where I was baptized, and they’re sending me off a spanking fresh copy of my own certificate. For free! Tomorrow! Okay, for that kind of service, I have to take back at least some of the nasty things I’ve said about the Church over the years – the government could take a few lessons on efficency and customer service when it only takes 24 hours to retrieve, replicate and send a 36 year old record.

So, the boys will be attending Catholic school. While I’ve spent a lot of time agonizing over it in the past four years, I’ve come to an uneasy peace with our decision. We might even start going to church. Sometimes.

Hey, it’s a start.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nancy January 13, 2006 at 1:24 pm

If my little comment carries any weight whatsoever….excellent excellent decision. I am a bit familiar with this school with two nieces registered there, their parents MORE than extremely pleased with the school and programs and teachers, etc.
The school system in Quebec is different, but had we still been in Ottawa come school time, there was better than a good chance that our boys would be going to a Catholic school, and I am so NOT Catholic. DH was raised as such, but no longer with his own reasons BUT the education and schools seem to eb so good, and the values and well…the church part we’d have dealt with.
Now the REAL issue here being the PANIC that is truly the realization that Tristan is old enough to start school??? REAL school!!! O.M.G!
Now, did that part make you feel better??
P.S. Happy Friday the 13th.

2 UberGeek January 13, 2006 at 2:10 pm

Welcome back to folds Sister Danielle.
We have been blessed with the return of our prodigal daughter, and would like to celebrate this momentous occasion by passing the donation plate.
uhhh did I type that out loud.
But in all seriousness I have heard nothing but excellent reports coming from that school.

3 Danigirl January 13, 2006 at 3:14 pm

You know what, after all those years of agonizing, I feel completely at ease with this decision. It was the right choice – but hearing what you guys have to say definitely helps!
And Nancy, it hasn’t freaked me out yet, but August is going to be a very emotional month!!

4 Camrymom January 13, 2006 at 3:50 pm

Is it still de-lurking week? I think it’s worth it for this topic!
I, too, have a son who is starting Kindergarten in the fall (senior k.). We kept him in a Montessori preschool for various reasons for his JK year, but are now ready to send him to “real” school.
We’ve been debating for a year whether to send him to Catholic or public school, with one of each in our immediate neighbourhood. My husband is what I would call a reluctant Catholic, and I was baptised Anglican, but do not practice any religion. The main problem where we are is that our school board will not accept our children un-baptised. Having a baptised parent is not enough…the child himself has to be christened in the Catholic church. The board’s reasoning? “Because we can. Enrollment is high enough that we can make our own rules”…even though they are publicly funded….seems unfair to me.
Do you think you’ll take that step eventually? Will your school board require it?
Your entry today really hit home today…we’re suffering the same “angst”!

5 yvonne January 13, 2006 at 6:43 pm

The issue will not rear its ugly head again until grade 2 where Tristan will need to take his first confession, first communion and first confirmation. Or sit on the sidelines while the rest of his classmates do. You’ve got three and a bit more years to locate those baptismal certificates and make preparations. 🙂

6 Beanie Baby January 13, 2006 at 8:06 pm

Congratulations on making a decision. And, wow, kindergarten–WOW. That’s all I can say.

7 jo(e) January 14, 2006 at 1:47 am

My kids all went to a Catholic elementary school. The same one I went to, in fact. Not all the kids in the school are Catholic — it certainly isn’t a requirement at the school. I know at least one of the teachers is not Catholic either.
I have big issues with the Catholic Church — but very good experiences with Catholic Schools. Go figure.

8 kris January 14, 2006 at 7:58 pm

Most of the public schools are terrible in the city where I live, so the Catholic schools have been vital to the city. I used to teach at 2 very different Catholic High Schools (and am not Catholic myself) and both of them had many students and teachers who were not Catholic and I don’t know of anyone who found the environment at either school opressive. I wouldn’t have any issues with sending my kids to a Catholic school, were it not for the fact that I am a public school educator. I think it looks tacky for public educators to take taxpayers’ money for their work and then turn around and effectively declare that public schools are not good enough for their children by sending them to private schools. So, while I LOVE living in the city, I will have to move to a better (suburban)district when my kids are old enough to go to school. Oh, well..

9 kris January 14, 2006 at 7:59 pm

Oops! That’s “oppressive”.

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