I think this will be my final post on the topic of "back to school" (although I'm sure school itself will hold many blog-able topics this year!) It is Friday, and the third day that all five kids have been off to their respective places of education. I can't say we have gotten the rhythm down yet since four of the five have been on abbreviated schedules this week, so we have yet to see what a "real" week looks like! But we have begun to fine-tune the morning routine, and today it went off without a hitch. Everyone is still relatively excited with the "newness" of it all, and Ian in particular cannot wait to go to school (this morning Pedro said he was practically being dragged down the street by a five-year old SO anxious to walk through those welcoming gates!)
Unfortunately while I can say that I have sent my children off, I can't say that yet about what is pictured below. Yes, this is the result of the famous school supply lists we receive at the beginning of every school year (multiplied by FIVE this year!):
|I didn't make the list, but I am checking it twice!|
|staging area 1|
|see all those labels? for every.single.thing.|
|staging area 2|
|and staging area 3 ... my house is taken over|
Most of these school supplies are simply referred to as "utiles" (which literally means "useful") but sometimes I think their only use to is make families go broke! I can honestly understand why Chilean families feel they cannot "afford" more than one or two children when I consider the cost of simply getting them into school each year. Of course, with God we know we have a Provider who will always make a way - but February/March in Chile could definitely be considered a time of faith testing in the area of finances. :)
I've said it before but I'll say it again, this process of having our children in national schools has been so eye-opening and really has created an empathy and understanding for our parental peers in this country. Just observing as I go to purchase my children's books and seeing that the parent in front of me is writing three checks to pay for her children's supplies: a check to be cashed at 30 days, another at 60 days, another at 90 days. Then at a different store where I buy uniforms, noticing a sign on the cashier's window advertising that all school clothes can be bought on credit with 0% interest for six months.
Just when I think it is all so crazy and wonder if it's really worth it, God does something to totally affirm our decision to see this through. This time it happened on the first day of school for Ian. As I sat in the director's office filling out Ian's paperwork, she began to share some parenting struggles their family was facing (her daughter is a former classmate of Owen's at the elementary school.) I listened and felt a nudge to invite her to church starting on March 24, when we will once again offer Chip Ingram's "Effective Parenting in a Defective World" series on Biblical parenting. Then I heard this: "Would you consider teaching that series here at the pre-school for the parents?"
Seriously?! What an incredible opportunity and open door. While it is is not definite yet (the director will present the option at their next meeting) we are excited and trusting God to bring this to fruition.
So maybe I will have to rethink my position on these school supplies. About those "utiles??" ... Maybe they ARE "useful" after all. :)