Journey: School Daze

My son started kindergarten this fall. All of the dizzying decisions to be made including how old he should be upon entry, whether he should take English or French kindergarten, got me so agitated that I felt like vomiting whenever I thought about it.

So, as I do with difficult decisions in my life, I did a journey to find out information about my options. I made the journey with the intention of finding out what the best option would be for him. I went with two specific options in mind – asking for information and guidance in relation to each one. Option 1 involved him taking English kindergarten for a year, then French kindergarten the second year. Option 2 was for him to go straight to French kindergarten.

I left for the journey from my usual spot. A stork came with me on my journey, and let me ride on its back up to the Upper World. We rode a spiral of smoke up, up through the layers of clouds, into the sky. When I got there I asked for any guides or teachers with messages for me.

A stingray made itself known to me. I asked about option #1. The stingray did kind of a steady flip, flopping as it went in a straight line ahead, on the level, indicating how things would go if I pursued option 1. From the stingray’s movements, which appeared to be normal stingray behaviour, I inferred this option would be easy, with just a few normal challenges, indicated by the normal flopping movements of the stingray. Since I was doing the journey before I went to sleep, my concentration started drifting a little. Images started coming into my own head about issues that came from my own going to school.

It was revealed to me that when I was in elementary school I thought any kid who was older than me, in my grade was “stupid”. I thought anyone that wasn’t the same age as me had failed because of their stupidity and had to be held back. I was very judgmental about these kids, and felt very superior to them.

A scene then flashed into my mind of my first day of grade 8. I had been living out of the country in a different culture and on the first day of school, I was wearing the wrong thing. The kind of thing that was so wrong I probably would have been beaten up if I was not with my mother. Perhaps my mother was having trouble accepting the fact that I was now in junior high, but she dressed me very immaturely for my age and inappropriately for the mid-1980’s! I was wearing grey cords, a plaid blouse with a Peter Pan collar (yellow, pink, grey, white) and a little string tie with it. I remember it so clearly because I thought it would be the outfit that I died in. I walked the gauntlet of kids who were wearing a uniform of blue jeans, jean jackets and black leather jackets. I may as well have been naked.

My mind slid down these tangents for awhile. I moved a lot as a child, and went to several different schools. My mind replayed for me all the times I had to go to a new school, the trauma of being judged, the exhaustion of trying to fit in. Finally I consciously stopped myself and thought “This is not a journey about me – why am I seeing all of these memories of mine?” Then the lightbulb went on. Oh, I get it. It’s actually MY fears of him being judged that are being activated. It really doesn’t have much to do with him at all. It’s MY stuff I have to resolve.

Once this initial realization sunk into, I finally got around to asking about option #2. The poor stingray was trying to go straight up a 90 degree cliff. He accomplished it, but his progress was steep and slow and not easy. He finally got to the top of the cliff and was able to stop and rest. Hmmm…seemed like a tough row to hoe, unless you absolutely had too. Looked like option 1 was the best.

After I was done my journey and had recorded it for myself, I researched the animal symbols in my journey. I took the lessons that were revealed to this point and continued looking deeper.

I looked up some information about the stork. I discovered that in ancient Egypt the stork was associated with the word for “human” – ba – as they had the same phonetic value. The ba was the unique individual character of each human being. I took this to reaffirm in a greater way, that my unique self definitely was present as I sought out these messages.

I also discovered that the Hebrew word for stork was equivalent to “kind mother”, and the care of storks for their young, made the stork into a widespread emblem of parental care. Storks would not abandon their nests even if they were on fire.

According to Walker in the Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art, the word “stork” comes from the Greek “storge”, which means “powerful affection” or “mother-love”. Hmm….so, my “mother-love” which was also part of my unique self came with me to find messages for my son. Perhaps this meant I was even re-mothering myself in healing my own past school-related issues.

About stingrays, I found out that “Anything that swims in deep water is normally symbolic of deep unconscious aspects of the dreamer. Stingrays have the ability to inflict pain wounds.” Hmmm…I guess that was an even bigger hint to let go of my own issues so as to best not re-injure myself today from the same source.

Final Thoughts
While I did get an answer to the question I went asking, the most interesting aspect of this journey (and not typical in most of my journeys) that it was revealed to me that my own lessons could be affecting my decisions about my son. What a good thing to know! Also, good to know that these issues had to be healed for my own good (and my son’s).

(I chose option 1, and though it is not easy, I think it in the long run it will be in my son’s best interests.)

As an adult, until I did this journey, I tended to think back on my many experiences of attending a new school as “positive” and “growth” experiences, that resulted in me being the “amazing person with many life experiences” I am today. This is the luxury of having surviving painful experiences – you can package them all up and revise them in whatever way you wish. But apparently, while I had many “life experiences”, there was also some unresolved school-related traumas, hiding down deep in the well of my anxiety and reactivated by my own child entering the school system.

Looking at the journey and the symbolism research together my lesson revolved around the fact that my son is just beginning his school life and will have his own challenges and traumas. It’s important that I don’t confuse my own issues from the past with his issues. All I can do is let him live his own life, and make the best decisions I can for him, learned from my own experiences. It is important for me to process and release my own experiences, as the stingray was there to tell me, so that I didn’t get hurt twice!

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