Today I am filled with both grief and relief and it is over the same situation. It's hard to reconcile being filled with two such opposite emotions over one circumstance but that is how I feel nonetheless. My friend, SeeDub, posted on her facebook status today, "Weird how a day can be simultaneously awful and affirming." and it's so true. That is exactly how I feel, awful over the outcome and yet affirmed that we turned down a better path.
I will preface the problem with the fact that we are blessed! In fact, we are so blessed that only a person with tremendous blessings could even have our dilemma. We live in a very wealthy school district. The privilege of going to these schools allows our children opportunities that others can only dream about. In addition to the traditional "reading, writing and arithmetic" taken to new levels, our schools also offer a phenomenal fine arts selection and concentrated academies. They also like to paint the picture for "up and coming" students that, "You can do it all!". And in a perfect world, you CAN do it all. For the last two years, our world was perfect by those standards but that time has come to an end.
The challenge for academy students is that there are more classes than there is school day to put them in. Students that are driven and desire to do more, can, but they have to figure out ways to add courses in the summer or even during the regular school year on top of their already busy school day. Mix in a fine art or two and the wiggle room becomes non-existent.
For a couple of years, my son, Zach, has had a plan in place to make his academy schedule meld with his fine arts schedule. In order to make that happen, he spent last summer taking an online course (History) and planned to do the same this summer (Algebra II). His ultimate goal was to be in jazz band. In this district you cannot be in jazz band unless you participate in regular/marching band, as well. That means two of his seven course periods would be taken for the year. His academy takes an additional two, leaving only three class periods for core classes. In Texas, students are required to do a 4x4 plan which means you must have four years of each of the four core classes (Math, Science, English and History).
To make a long story short or at least shorter, someone at the school dropped the ball on his summer course with the end result being he cannot do summer school. We thought he was all set and at the very last minute learned otherwise. The domino effect here is that he will lose a class period for an elective, which would be fine if he could take only jazz band but since he is required to do marching band in order to do jazz band it doesn't work. Therefore, he has decided to drop band all together. That is where my grief comes in, band is such a great program. I know he loves the music, he enjoyed the marching and he learned great work ethics and the value of teamwork through band. I hate to see him give that up. After we told the director I asked Zach if he was sad or relieved and he answered, "a little of both".
I absolutely get that. He has been in band for the last five years. The last two years in marching band. His life has been filled with summer band camp, marching at half-time during Friday night football games, marching contests on Saturdays. It is truly a way of life and we are sad to see it go. What's worse is that he is having to give up the thing he did all the extra work for and that is jazz band. It just stinks! It's a loss and we are grieving the loss.
My immediate thought when this situation came into focus was of Proverbs 16:9 which says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
The reality here is that his ultimate goal will come out of his participation in the Culinary Arts Academy. He wants to be a chef. He has wanted to be a chef since he was in the third grade. By him dropping band, he will be able to continue in French where he excels, and which is an extremely complimentary course to his Culinary program. Most cooking terms are French and if he ends up interning for a really good chef, odds are, he is going to need a good foundation in the French language, especially if that chef is based in say, Paris!
Here's where the Relief comes in, his summer just opened up and come fall he will only have to be at school during regular school hours unless there is a culinary event. Our Friday nights and Saturdays in the fall are now open. He can put more time into his classes and raise his grades and make himself even more appealing to Culinary schools and chefs in his future. So God has a plan for my son. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And His plan is always better than anything we can imagine.
I'm for believing that God's plan is better than ours.