Last night as I got ready for bed, Otto took Licorice outside for her last trip of the evening, then headed upstairs to put her in Chickadee’s room. Before coming back down, he must’ve stopped in his office and checked his email.

“We have an email from Teresa*,” he said. [*Teresa is not the Hippie School owner’s name, but as I’m starting to think of her as our family’s very own personal Mother Teresa, I thought it would make an apt blog name for her.]

“What does it say??” I asked, already fighting against a small, dark voice in the deepest corner of my brain that was only too happy to suggest that yes, on 10:00 p.m. the night before school starts, she’s decided that Monkey will be too much of a handful, and she’s very sorry, but would we mind very much just not showing up?

“Oh, you know,” he said, “mostly that she’s glad that Saturday happened and she’ll see us tomorrow.” He went off to brush his teeth. I went and grabbed my laptop to read it for myself.

Hi! Just thinking of Monkey tonight and hoping he isn’t feeling butterflies. This might sound dumb, but I’m glad the incident happened on Sat – let’s just get the worry (for him, maybe you all, not me!) that something might happen out of the way. It did! It will! (And I hope you could tell that no families were bothered…) We will deal, and learn and grow (and I mean all of us – he is going to firmly lodge himself in that part of my heart that gets tickled by the smartly quirky, I can already tell.) Things will be new and different – and might take some adjustment – but GOOD!

There was more, after that. But that was already all I needed. I sent her a quick note back, stopping just short of asking her to adopt me.

This morning Monkey bounced down the stairs, eager to get going, wanting to know what time it was and whether it was time to leave, not wanting to stand still while I recombed his hair for him (not that I don’t really LOVE the homeless, blind person with only half a comb look, I assured him…), drinking four sips of smoothie and insisting he was full.

We took him out to the front step for a few pictures, and then we were off.

Ordinarily, we’ll carpool and Otto will drive Monkey and Mario and Luigi (also not their real names!) (I’ve become oddly paranoid that naming all of my children’s friends after animals is going to get me into trouble with their parents, so I’ve moved on to video game characters) in the morning. But today I took him, and he sat buried in a book in the backseat while I drove to what I hope so much will be a new chapter of his life.

As I turned into the parking lot and spied the now-familiar pink door tag, Monkey closed his book with a resounding thump. “We’re here!” he said. “Hey! There’s Mario! HI MARIO!” He was out of the car before I’d even taken the keys out of the ignition.

“Oh, hey Monkey,” said Mario. The boys went inside. We moms smiled at each other and brought up the rear.

It’s a new year, a new school, a whole new way of life for us, and hopefully—oh how I hope—a whole new start for Monkey.


… he wore his old, comfortable shoes. That’s okay. I suspect Hippie School is ready to embrace him exactly the way he is, grubby shoelaces and all.


  1. Carmen

    Here’s hoping that Monkey will have a FANTASTIC first day – and that it carries over to the entire year.

    And, WOW on the school owner. Just wow.

  2. Laura

    I am sure this is the first post of many which will tell us how well Monkey is doing in school and how amazing life is with him. I am so excited for all of you and thrilled that the Hippie school has come into your lives. Congrats to all!

  3. Megan

    What a lovely, perfect email she sent. How marvelous to have found a school where the person in charge has an instinct for the right thing to do – and DOES it. Her empathy for you and your feelings about Saturday speak volumes for her empathy for Monkey and for the other kids at Hippie School.

    Oh, and I am a firm believer that comfortable, familiar old shoes are almost always your best shoes.

  4. Jenne

    Catching up on your posts from the weekend! So glad that Saturday gave you a glimpse of the non-judgmentalness (there’s a sexy word for ya!) of Monkey’s new world, and that his first day drop-off went pretty smoothly. Can’t wait to hear how his day went! :)

  5. Brenda

    Doing a weepy happy dance!

  6. liv

    yay! what an amazing place you’ve found for monkey. hope his first day is a fantastic one. :)

  7. Randi

    I’m so glad that he was excited this morning! I’m still really curious about how Hippie School works – homeschooling that’s sort of not homeschooling – but I’m very glad that you found the best option for Monkey. Reading about the difficulties you’ve had making your decision has us thinking about Toad this year and whether or not our school is the best option for him. There are only 6 children in his class (3 boys total) and he doesn’t get along with any of the boys – they’re not interested in things he’s interested in and he feels very left out of everything, causing heaps of problems last year. He’s promised to open his mind and give it a try this year for a few weeks (they’re changing up how everything works), but if it doesn’t work and he’s still having more problems than not, we’ll likely look into other options as well. So what I guess I mean to say in my long-winded way is THANK YOU for sharing the struggle with us all.

  8. Debbi

    Wishing him a beautiful school year in a wonderful school! Can’t wait to hear how the week goes! And this school sounds like the best school on earth!!

  9. MaryP

    Hurrah! And those shoes? Have AT LEAST another year in them. Or until his toes shove through the ends. Whichever comes first. Comfy shoes are important on first days of schools.

  10. Genevieve

    (full-throated Muppet head-tilted-back cheer)

  11. Chuck

    That school sounds so awesome. Here’s hoping Monkey has a great next few years there!

  12. Beth R

    Hey, if the shoes still fit, wear those suckers!

    Happy first day of hippy school, Monkey!

  13. Aimee

    Okay, Theresa is the BOMB. I haven’t met her, but I LOVE HER SO MUCH for having sent you that email, and for really meaning it. That is awesome.

  14. Rachel C

    What a wonderful email to receive. I like her already!!
    My 5 year old is currently at his first day of kindergarten today and, as I imagine you are, I am wearing my heart outside my body in a more-than-usual way today.
    I am thinking of you all… and looking forward to a post soon about the wonderful first day Monkey had!

  15. The Mommy Therapy

    Teresa sounds like the perfect addition to your family. What an amazingly kind and thoughtful email to send. I think all of us in your blogging world are going to love her.

    So happy the first day seems to be off to a good start.

    Can’t wait to hear how it all goes!

  16. addy

    We all need our comforts around in stressful times. Yes, grubby shoelaces and all.

  17. dad

    It is amazing that with all the junk life will throw at us, there are “Teresas” everywhere. From the poorest teeming cities of India to suburban Georgia USA there exist individuals whose compassion seem boundless. We are all better because of them.

    There is abundant hope.

  18. Tracy B

    Keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer for Monkey!

  19. karen

    Can you do another post at the end of today? I am sooo happy for you, actually had goosebumps reading Theresas e-mail to you. Sounds silly that a person who has only been blog reading and never met you in person can grow to really care, but I do, as do many of your readers.

    I think this is just what you’ve been lookin/searching/waiting/hoping for.

  20. Jen

    Congrats to all of you. I’m really jealous you have that hippie school option. Hoping this year is everything you’re looking for!

  21. Patricia

    I hope Monkey knows that there a bunch of us out here rooting for Team Monkey. I’m glad you have found a place where you and he won’t feel or be judged — which is HUGE. May today be a very good day indeed.

    Also, not every year needs to begin with new shoes, but every year ought to begin with hope….this year you have hope, cherish that.

  22. Suzy

    Yay for acceptance and welcoming. I hope that Monkey thrives at this new school.

  23. Julie @ Yo Gabba Gabba Party Supplies

    Mir – this school owner sounds like a WINNER!!! Can’t wait to hear about Monkey’s first day, I’m so excited for him!

  24. Jen

    Happy “Love Monday” Mir…. and Monkey too. :-)

  25. Midj

    Singing cheers of joy for you! Left my “boy” at college yesterday. May there be wonderful new beginnings for us all… :-)

  26. Christy

    I want to hear how the day goes!! This school right now just sounds So Perfect for all of you. Monkey for sure…but all of you. Happy first day!!

  27. MomCat

    That’s gotta be the best teacher email I’ve ever read. My hopes for Monkey are high!

  28. Jessica

    We need more teachers like that these days.

    And more parents like you.

  29. Zilla

    I love the hippie school….best wishes to Monkey on his first day, and all the days going forward. I love the hippie school owner, too.

  30. Jen

    Yay Hippie School (and it’s wonderful owner – can she adopt me too?) and Yay Monkey! This sounds like the start of a great new chapter for him (and the whole family).

  31. Cheryl M.

    Oh Teresa sounds amazing! I think Monkey is going to do wonderfully at Hippie School, and can’t wait to hear how his first day went!

  32. erma

    Mir, I am soooooo happy for Monkey and for all of you.
    Keeping my fingers crossed….

  33. Lynda M O

    Best news we could find today on your blog, Mir. Happy for all of you in this new venture.

  34. Laura

    Well done, Mir and Otto. It sounds as if Monkey will be in a place where he’ll have the time, space, and support he needs to be the “smartly quirky” kid he is. Anxiety/stress divided by Support and Understanding = School Happiness quotient. Also, friends!

  35. Karen R.

    Wonderful! Being in a better (for him) school environment should also make a big difference in Monkey’s ability to cope with the rest of his life (BTDT). Best wishes for a big improvement in everything.

  36. liz

    So glad that it seems that this is not only the right school for Monkey, but it’s also the right group of parents.

  37. alissa

    have a lump in my throat, butterflies in my stomach and so much hope in my heart! monkey deserves so much love and support and i hope that he gets it! you, too!

  38. EmmaC

    Wow. After the past few months (years!) of struggle and anxiety, this is sounding like a fantastic new chapter for Monkey and your family. I’m really happy for you guys and kinda want to go enroll at Hippie School myself!

  39. Brigid

    I just got chills reading that email from the director. Wow. I hope he has a ball.

  40. Crista

    You finally let yourself get excited for this :). Here’s to Monkey’s best year yet! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  41. Susan

    I <3 Theresa! Good luck Monkey!

  42. elz

    I’m so glad Monkey has Hippie School. I can’t wait to find out how much better this year will be from last year! Great luck Monkey.

  43. elz

    I just read your dad’s comment and he is seriously the BEST. Love him.

  44. pam

    I love Teresa! In a way I cannot even explain. I just love there’s a Teresa out there for all the kids like Monkey who so desperately need her.

  45. Shannon

    All I’ve got is a big YAY!

  46. Lynne

    How wonderful for you and Monkey that Teresa has entered your life (and now your blog). Here’s to hope, for a new year, new experiences and new horizons. (and then maybe new shoelaces)

  47. Daisy

    Teresa sounds like a winner. Your Monkey is in good hands.

  48. Veronica

    I hope he had a brilliant day.

  49. Walkingborder (Karen)

    Yeah, I had tears from her email. You must have been bawling!

  50. Jennifer

    I was just drifting off to sleep last night when I suddenly thought “I wonder how Monkey’s first day went” For being complete strangers, you have all worked your way into my heart – perhaps Theresa, I too love the smartly quirky. Thank you for sharing so much – for making me laugh, cry, think and generally change the way I look at things. Hope that each day for Monkey gets better and better.

  51. Kim

    I can only imagine how reading that email must have made you feel. I am so happy for all of you!

  52. Katie in MA

    Oh, I hope Monkey’s day was as wonderful as his morning! I was thinking of you guys yesterday…

  53. Karate Mom

    OK, I just have to say that I’m so excited to hear about this new phase in y’all’s life!

  54. Tenessa

    A-MAY-ZING! Tears of happiness at such wonderful acceptance are falling over here.

  55. Andrea

    Teresa and the hippie school…they’re keepers.

    I am so glad and grateful that the cosmos found a way to send her into Monkey’s life. He, like all of us, deserves to find a safe and nurturing place in this world to learn and be–and it looks like Teresa is going to embrace him in her school and heart. How lucky for Teresa that the cosmos found it fit to send Monkey to her life! She deserves to know the sweet son you are raising.

    I pray the hippie school experience is all that it can be for Monkey.

  56. Karianna

    Totally tearing up with happy at the note from Teresa. How amazing! (And SO glad to read in later posts about how much Monkey is enjoying school. Words cannot express the thrill that things are going well!)

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