number eight: amy’s first week of school

I promised to write about Amy’s first week of school. I’ve been putting it off partly because of time and partly because I haven’t felt like writing about it. But I feel I should get it down.

First off, she was sick for the first two days. Quite sick. So she missed her first day, which was an hour orientation with a small number of classmates, and she missed her second day, which was her first whole day. Then we had a weekend, and Monday morning rolled around, her actual first day.

So to give some context, this is a girl who has been super excited to start kindergarten. She talked about it enthusiastically throughout summer and she left daycare in July and didn’t really talk about missing it (granted, she was on vacation with me and her brother, so perhaps not surprising). This is also a girl who is emotional and wears here emotions on her sleeve.

I was expecting some tears on her first day, and there were some. She bravely went in to the school, though, and when I picked her up she was very happy. I’m not sure I expected tears on the second day. I guess I wouldn’t have been surprised. But I can honestly say that I did not expect tears on day 15, or 16…or day 22. But here we are, and there are still tears. Well, to be accurate, according to Greg, there were no tears this morning, just a sad face, but Amy insists she cried. So yes, more than four weeks of tears.

We’ve talked about it, and she’s very clear on the fact that she feels very sad saying good bye. And she does. She even cried at daycare sometimes. But it was easier on me then, because I could hand her directly into a caregiver’s arms (which we did), and she got a good cuddle, and 30 seconds later she was ready to roll. At school, while her teacher has been amazing, and holds her hand going into the school, it’s not quite the same. It’s not familiar (for me or her) and it’s not as intimate an environment. There are almost 500 kids at that school. There were 16 at her daycare!

So you’ll notice that “me” cropped up in the previous paragraph. I recognize this is a me issue. SHE is fine after drop off (according to her teacher and to the EA who is in the class some times). SHE is happy when I pick her up, and often does not want to leave after school care. She tells me all the good things about school (her teacher, some of the kids, recess, etc.) and all the not-so-good things about school. The only thing in the latter list is saying good bye. (As an aside, I am pretty sure we’ve heard more about kindergarten from her in one month than we did from Elliot all year.)

After a particularly bad drop off last week, where there was a substitute and I left her in the classroom, hearing her crying for me as I walked down the hall, Greg and I decided that he would do as many drop offs as possible. Amy is still upset when Greg does it, but perhaps not as much, and it doesn’t affect him as much as me. I think he can reassure himself that she’s fine. I can at a theoretical level, but not at an emotional level. That bad drop off had me crying uncontrollably, once I got back to the privacy of my car. Things have been better, mostly because of the Greg plan, but I did take her to school yesterday and we both survived.

I am pretty sure that Elliot felt the same way for the first few weeks (months?) of kindergarten, based on his behaviour. But his response, typical of his personality, was to keep it all in. While it was easier on me, I do appreciate the fact that Amy is so open to talking. About anything. She doesn’t actually stop talking until she’s asleep. So we talk about it a lot. She tells me the times of day she is sad, and when she is happy. Apparently it takes her until lunch time to be happy, but I suspect that’s not entirely accurate. And we tell her how brave she is, and we focus on the fact that she just needs to get through the good bye…and it’s probably sinking in at some level. I do look forward to the day when I can give her a hug, kiss and a good bye, and watch her smile and walk off. Elliot got there, and I know she’ll get there too. One day!

mission accomplished

This morning I got up early, donned my long underwear, fleece, toque and mitts, acted like a good Canadian and stopped for a tea and breakfast sandwich at Tim Horton’s, and headed out on a mission. To register Elliot in kindergarten.

I had no idea what to expect. I’ve heard of people lining up in the wee hours of the morning to get into the elementary school of their choice. This goes against every grain of my being. We have one elementary school that is near us. The idea of having to WAIT IN LINE to register my son in the only PUBLIC school close to us just seems ludicrous. And had it not been for me requiring after school care for him, I would have taken a much more relaxed approach, stopped off at the school at a reasonable hour and then continued on to work.

But I really want to get him in the care facility that is physically in the school, and I was told that the registration for it started today as well. So there I was, ready to wait in line in the cold. I actually didn’t arrive that early…it was about 7:30. I drove into the parking lot and there were all of four cars there. And no one waiting outside. No lawn chairs set up, no blankets out. No people. I think I was expecting a concert ticket line up.

I debated what to do (sit in the car or leave and return at 8:00) when I realized I may as well check if the school was open. It was. And they’d set up a long line of chairs for parents to sit (in order) to register. And there was one person in line. One. I sat down beside him and we laughed at how keen we were.

Everything proceeded very smoothly and Elliot is #2 in the list for the French Immersion program (and #1 does not live in the catchment area) and he’s #1 on the list for after school care. The manager pretty much guaranteed that he’d get in.

So I may be a keener, but I got the job done (and stayed very warm in the process). And I was surprised how good I felt getting it done. I think it was weighing on me a bit.