Monday, May 7, 2012

We Are Family

When I first moved to Israel in 1997, I joined the Tora Dojo martial arts organization; I was alone in a new country, and they were the closest thing to family I could imagine.  My father had received a black belt - one of the original ten -  from the style's creator, Dr. Harvey Sober.  Many of the teachers here in Jerusalem had gone to college with my father, remembered me as a little girl, and welcomed me. I felt like I had the social safety net I needed.

After several years, and having a achieved purple belt, I felt that the style of martial arts that Tora Dojo represented here in Israel no longer fulfilled my needs, and it took me six months to officially stop going to class, and another six months to stop feeling bad about leaving my 'family.'

I have approximately two weeks to decide where Raphaela will go to Gan next year.  I suffer from too many choices rather than too few, and it is driving me mad.

Option One, Gan Yarok (her current nursery):  Raphaela is happy there, she knows the place and some of the children returning next year;  she will have one more year of a great child-staff ratio of 1:5-6. Despite some of the glaring problems with the Head nursery teacher, I have many good things to say about the place and what they offer, the feeling of independence that they foster as a Montessori program.

MAJOR DOWNSIDE:  It is the most expensive place of the three, with the most vacation days and the least hours per month.  As a single mother, money is a real issue.
THE BIG QUESTION:  Is Raphaela's "security" worth the extra money, even if it means that I end up struggling a little within my budget?

Option Two, Gan Mazi:  Although it is a  municipal nursery, they have an uncharacteristic ratio as well of 1:5-6, with a mix of Russian/Hebrew/English/Spanish language children, and an Immersion program, with several children her age whom she knows from swim lessons.  She can stay there for the next three years, until Raphaela starts first grade.

MAJOR DOWNSIDE:  It is not within walking distance of my house, and Raphaela would have to be toilet trained, no matter what.
THE BIG QUESTION:  Is Raphaela ready for the public system, or is three years old simply too early?

Option Three, Gan Emunah:  A five minute walk from my house, Raphaela's classroom for next year is full of toys and drawings, and the teachers seemed warm and at the same time, had good control over the group of three to four year olds.  It is private but much less expensive than Gan Yarok, with up to 26 children in the class and they supply all meals and snacks for the day.

MAJOR DOWNSIDE:  It would be a new place for Raphaela, and as far as I know, she would not know any of the kids in her class.
THE BIG QUESTION:  Is it worth transferring Raphaela for this one year, when she would have to switch in the public system next year, no matter what?

And then we get back to the question of family, that sense of guilt and dread if I pull Raphaela out of Gan Yarok, away from everything she has known for the last two years; wondering what amazing things they might be doing and feeling bad because Raphaela missed out on that experience.  I certainly can't agonize over this decision for too much longer, and don't want to hand it over to indecision and the Greater Universe; I want to own it and be 100% with my process.

As a friend of mine reminded me, when the Universe makes a de facto choice, it is not always in mine (or Raphaela's) best interests.


Midlife Singlemum said...

The local Emunah as many of the children who will be her friends after about 1 week will transfer with her next year into the ironi system. And what you spend on this semi-private gan, you would spend anyway in petrol getting her to and from the free ironi gan.

Sarah said...

If keeping her in her current place would cause you ongoing anxiety about money, choose from one of the other two.

But if it's a matter on somehow cutting back on other things and you feel you could absorb the extra cost without worrying about it all the time, then keep her there -- it sounds from the way you wrote that that's what you really want to do, deep down.

But I think probably the most important thing is not which school you choose, but your getting behind yourself 100 percent. Raphaela can get used to anything -- if YOU feel confident about it. She won't miss her old gan for long, unless YOU keep wondering about it.