Friday, October 17, 2014
**This post is about religion - I want to give you a heads up that we are non-religious - not anti religious and this post is not meant to offend anyone, I have very strong beliefs that each person should be free to choose their own religious beliefs and I would never force any of my own beliefs on anyone else, your life and your decisions are your own. If you are deeply religious, I respect that and I hope that I do not offend you in any way***
My husband and I were brought up as Catholics and both attended private Catholic schools. My experience of school was a good one, though both of us now don't really have any religious affiliation. The boys were not baptised (to my Mum's great chagrin) and both of us don't really believe in what we were brought up to believe. That is not to say that I have anything against anyone who is religious - many people find great comfort in their religion and I have great respect for that.
Melbourne is diverse culturally, it is one of the things that I love very much about my town but as a generalisation, religion is not a huge deal in many people's lives. This may sound very trite considering the world climate but most people would be more offended if you professed no affiliation to an Australian Rules football team than to no affiliation to a religion. It is not a perfect place but I love it and I am happy to bring my boys up in a place (mostly) of tolerance.
So, how does this relate to schools? We have been discussing where we would send the boys to school for a while. The area that we live in don't have great public schools so we always knew that we would want to go down the path of a private school. As I had a good experience with my Catholic school, I didn't really have any objection to them attending one and there were a few around who accepted kids that hadn't been baptised. It would be difficult though so we discussed whether we wanted them to be baptised. My feelings were not strong either way but JourneyMan's were very strongly against as he believes that our children are perfect and it is offensive to him to think that they were born with 'original sin'. So after much discussion, we decided not to baptise them, indeed I think it would be very hypocritical to baptise them just so that they could attend a particular type of school and not because we believe strongly in the sacrament.
Most private schools around our area are affiliated to a particular religion and though most of them practise an open policy in attendance for non-religious (or people from other religions), preference is given to children of their own religion - which is fair enough. For me, the biggest concern that I would have in sending our boys to a religious school is that they are born from IVF and indeed from a donor and I worry that they will be told that they are 'wrong' in some way. Now, I know many deeply religious people, my Mum and Dad are (were) and JourneyMan's Mum and Dad are too - these beautiful, wonderful people have never made any comment in any way that suggests that they think anything of these precious boys other than they are the true miracle that they are but what of others? Wouldn't it stand to reason that if there were people who were strictly involved in the church and believe that IVF and donor children are 'wrong' in some way would be sending their kids to a religious school? I know that I can't protect them from what people say all their lives but I can't willingly put them into a situation where this may occur. My Mum thinks I am very silly - of all the people she knows, none of them would ever even conceive of saying anything like this but I have done my research about Catholic opinion and the Church only sanctions GIFT (gamete intrafollopian transfer) - which the boys were not.
So, I did make calls to many schools and talked to many people about our situation - including religious schools and I have to say that these were wonderful, wonderful people. They were happy to answer my questions and available to have discussions about our pretty unique situation. There were definitely a couple of religious schools that I would feel very comfortable sending the boys to, they were truly, truly wonderful. Even though we were still (at the time) 2 years away from JBB going, we were mostly too late in getting his name down. However, the school that won our hearts was a non-religious one that is not too far away. It is pretty expensive but we have decided that we would rather sacrifice a few things and get them to go to this school because it blew us away. We are on the waiting list - we will only know mid-next year whether JBB will be able to attend in 2016. He will be attending a public kindergarten next year and then will go on to the new school (which goes from prep to year 12).
It strange to think that my little JBB, who such a short time ago was a tiny baby in my arms will soon be going to school. It is such a cliche but they really do grow up so fast. Just on JBB, it is a funny thing that people assume that he is already in school. He is sooooo tall. When he turned 4, we measured him as usual and I laughingly discovered that he is in the 90th percentile of height for a 5 year old, he absolutely towers over all of the kids at his daycare and I think that one of these days he is going to tower over me and I am not a short person.