A few days ago the four of us were at Mr. Sinki's sister's birthday party, which also happened to be their annual pig roast (whoooo! vegetarian at the pig roast!). It was a lot of fun to watch Willa and Henry run around with their cousins, and enjoy the trampoline and cake and glow necklaces. It was fun to watch them play with kids they didn't know.
While they did this, I met new people. There was the Polish woman who loves to shop and has a new boxer puppy. And the dad who was nervous as he took his young son to get a hair cut with very specific written instructions from his wife.
And then there was this woman who I kind of enjoyed talking to, but was - way in the back of my mind - irritated with her at the same time. It wasn't until doing some party debrief with Jim that I figured out why. She has 2 kids that are roughly my kids' ages. One started school last year, and they opted to send their child to an excellent school in an outside district using the School of Choice option. Fine, okay, good for them. But then she kept talking: "you should move to our Riverside Park neighborhood; it's wonderful." And, "you should send your daughter to X school district, it's terrific." Got it. But she kept going, and I started thinking she thought she was the boss of me. And she is not.
I get that everyone does their own thing. She's happy. Thumbs up. But she was so darn... smug. "Don't move out of the city! Send your kids to the suburbs for school!" I tried telling her that it was important to us that we live in the community (dare I say neighborhood) where our kids go to school without starting a debate. "We love living downtown, we bike downtown!"
Sigh. She was smug, but it's interesting when you meet someone who shines a spotlight on something you're wrestling with, isn't it?
I love living in the city of Grand Rapids. I love the idea of public education, and the democracy that comes with it. Both the city and public education have been idealized in my head and heart, and I'm aware of that.
Our kids are getting older, and we've struggled with every option on the table:
-stay in a cramped house and send the kids to GRPS, hoping they'll qualify for the magnet programs offered in GRPS.
-stay in a cramped house and apply for schools of choice. Wrestle with transportation every day.
-stay in a cramped house and put the kids in private school - HA! No, that wasn't really on the table.
-stay in a cramped house and send the kids to Charter Schools - not really an option for us either for political reasons.
-do not stay in a cramped house, and move to a place with better schools.
That last one seems best for us. But strangers at parties can't seem to let that go.
For another day: where, ideally, will this less cramped house with better schools be? I dunno. Today Willa and I pet baby goats and chickens at the zoo. This started daydreams of a house with more space inside and out. Three hens and two goats. A huge garden... Fruit trees...
What do you think? Could Camp Sinki turn into Sinki Farms?