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Why I'm Sad to Send the Kids to My Dream School

Photograph by Getty Images

I'm putting on a brave face, but the truth is, I'm scared. My kids are starting a new school soon and that means starting over. From scratch. New teachers, new kids, new routines—new parents.

Switching schools was a difficult choice for my husband and me. My kids were happy at their old school and everything was OK. But that was it—it was just OK. I didn't feel like they were being given the attention they needed or that the academics were strong as they could be. So when they got into what is probably the best school in our area, my husband and I jumped at the chance.

My soon-to-be 5th-grader was ecstatic, happy to make new friends and have new challenges (like an art class). But my soon-to-be-2nd-grader, who is normally the kid who can handle it all, was not happy in the least.

"You made this decision based on my brother, and not me," he told me one day in May, just after we had made the decision to switch schools. He was right. It was spurred by the need for something more in middle school, and I needed both of my kids in the same school. He cried more than a handful of times at the prospect of leaving his strong crew of boys. There were tears at the 1st-grade goodbye circle—and not just from my son and his friends—but also from me. My rational self was telling me were making the best decision we could for our boys, but my heart was breaking.

And so was his.

It took my younger son the summer to come around to the idea of going to a new school. A few walks through the campus helped. Talking about ski days and half-days on Wednesdays helped. Most of all, the new moms at the new school helped.

Since the day we found out we would be attending the new school, moms there have reached out to me and my kids, suggesting playdates and inviting us to the pool to swim and hang out. I think we all know what it's like to be the new kid, or the new mom, and they've done so much in making us feel welcome.

Still, it's going to be hard.

A few days ago my older son asked me in the car if it was OK to be sad about leaving his new school.

"Of course," I told him. "I've been sad, too."

"Is it OK to be scared about the first day of school at the new school?"

"Absolutely," I told him. "I'm a little scared, too."

"And is it OK to be excited and happy and sad all together?"

"It is. I feel the same way," I told him.

When it comes to the new school, we—my husband and the boys—are in this together. Now it's time for us to take a deep breath, take that first step into the front door, exhale, smile and get used to being the new kids—together.

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