I Went to 11 Schools as a Kid. My Son Shouldn’t Have To.
By never knowing stability, I learned its immeasurable value
I was born in Chicago, and I’ve spent most of my life there. I’m writing these words there. But if there’s anything that ever makes me want to pack up and leave my hometown, it’s the weather.
I’m sick of the cold. The snow. The ice. All of it. At this point in my life, I want to live where people have no concept of “wind chill.” I want monotonously good weather. I want to go where I keep a jacket in the car just in case the temperature drops below 60 degrees. I want to visit the snow the same way I visit the sun now.
For lots of reasons, my family isn’t ready to move. Some days, though, I feel irrational enough to tell my wife that we should chuck it all and run, that we’ll figure out the details later. When we’re both grumbling about Chicago living at the same time, I think I could almost convince her.
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t keeping your child in the same school a pretty low bar?” And I don’t disagree.
But I know we can’t. Not yet, at least. My fifth-grade son has attended the same school since kindergarten, something I consider to be one of my greatest accomplishments as a parent — and I’m not about to end it.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t keeping your child in the same school a pretty low bar? And I don’t disagree. But I know the value of the stability I’ve given my son, the certainty he knows, and I know it’s a gift.
Because when I was a kid, I went to 11 grade schools. Eleven.
I’m the oldest of six children. My mother, a single parent, had a hard time settling down and often a harder time making the rent. So we moved around a lot, especially during the first decade of my life.
It’s always tough being the new kid in school. On average, I was that kid almost every single year. I don’t remember how many schools I attended. Perhaps it wasn’t 11 — maybe it was nine, or 12. But it was a lot for me to process as an adolescent; those are formative years, and uprooting your life multiple times doesn’t exactly aid development.