There are very few things that I know for sure.
I know that I am going to start using Zicam again, even though there are concerns that it could be linked to anosmia. Minus the one week I was away on vacation, I have been seriously sick for EIGHT weeks straight. I've been coughing so much that I pulled all of my ab muscles and one in my neck. All four of our children have been sick, three of them with ear infections - one of them twice. Since this level of impairment never happened when we were using Zicam, this family is going back on the gel (and Q-tips).
I know that tonight for dinner, we'll be having fresh bread because I just made a batch. But the rest of the menu - as of almost 3:00 PM - is a puzzle.
I know that our house seems very small at times with six people, and the idea of a larger house sounds great. But I have no idea when, how, or where we will move ... if we ever do.
I know that I am supposed to return to work part-time May 1 and that a year from that date, I am supposed to return to work full-time. But whether or not I will actually return to full-time work, is uncertain.
I know that a structured education is something that our children will need in their lives. But whether I will send them to school - or teach them at home - is something I have not yet worked out.
Charlie says that I am an enigma wrapped up in mystery. But I believe that given time, any answer to any question will slowly unfold and present itself.
Last week was a difficult week, but the first week back from a vacation always is. Add to that, everyone was sick - we went to the doctor's office three times in five days - and we purchased a gargantuan play set that is now in parts across our patio, rendering the backyard "OFF LIMITS" to three curious children.
By Thursday (even before we had the play structure in parts across our yard), I was really struggling. I felt like our three-year-olds had been ascending to a point in their lives when they needed more than what I could provide them, every day. So out of sheer desperation, I called several preschool and Montessori schools in the area and lined up appointments for this week.
Today, while Charlie took all four children back to the doctor's office (that would be four times in seven days), I met with the director of a local Montessori school. I sat in on a classroom of four-year-olds and what I saw shocked me.
They were orderly.
They were disciplined.
They were organized.
They were polite.
They were engaged.
They were quiet, speaking only in whispers.
I'm not sure if the reason that they were so controlled in their emotions and behavior is because they are four-years-old (as opposed to three) ... or if it's because they are in a Montessori environment.
I don't know what kind of picture I paint of our children on this blog. I give snippets of their behavior, but that can change from day to day or hour to hour. For the most part, they are really wonderful kids. They are respectful, funny and if I may say so myself, extremely bright. They definitely have their moments when I'm ready to hang them by their toes, but I think that's par for the course at three-years-old.
It surprised me to not only see how well behaved these children were, but how I, turned in to a weepy mess as soon as I sat down. How is it possible that my babies - my tiny babies - are at a point in their lives where they could be sitting in a classroom setting and working on their decimals? And continents? And planets?? And raising their hands to get the attention of the teacher - and carrying a little backpack - and doing educational things ... without me??
I was biting my tongue so hard to hold back the tears, that I started to bleed.
After my 30-minute observation, I could actually envision our three children, in their three separate classrooms, learning, absorbing, and coming home with the ability to speak in Spanish. I believed - and still do, to a degree - that if we were to send them to Montessori, we would be providing a different (better?) educational experience, than what we could give them at home. And that experience, could - potentially - pave success for their entire lives.
But then. I could feel my wallet bleed when I picked up a tuition schedule and saw that it would cost $700.00 a month, per child, to send them to Montessori school, part-time. That does not include the $350.00 registration fee, per child, that is required at the beginning of each year.
Let's do the math.
$2,100/month X 10 months = $21,000 + $1,050 = $22,050.00
Because it is recommended that in order to get the full Montessori experience, children stay through kindergarten >> and since our children aren't slated to begin kindergarten until 2010 ... we need to triple that estimate. The grand total works out to $66,150.00, without any consideration to a possible increase in their fees, nor the 5% discount that is offered to families with multiples. But that deduction is pretty negligible, given the full cost.
I love being home. I love teaching our children and I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job, but I know that they are not receiving the same level of structure - and independence - and potentially, education - as they would in Montessori. And the question is, cost aside, does that really matter?
At three, four, five years old - how much education and structure do they really need??
Would they blossom more, and would I blossom more, if they were in Montessori, five days a week for three hours a day?
At this moment, I seriously don't know.
If we were to send the children to Montessori, I would need to work. Not full-time, per se, but we could not afford to send all three children to Montessori, pay our mortgage, fuel our vehicles, feed and clothe a family of six ... in California ... on one income.
Unless we ate potatoes every night and wore the sacks that they came in.