Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Back to School 2014

So, back to school 2014.  Georgia's first day was in late August, and June and Waylon started after Labor Day.  It's probably a good thing that it has taken me a few weeks to get this post up, because it has also taken us that long to get in a groove with this whole school business.  (Truth be told, the kids have adjusted well, but I'm still trying to get in a good groove.  I do not like the current groove.  I miss the days of summer and doing whatever we wanted to, and not having to drive everyone around, and I have gone into a temporary funk that I am trying to work myself out of, one way or another.  Joe is being very patient but I can only assume he is quietly freaking out on the inside, since I've resurrected the tried and true, "Let's uproot our whole lives and move back to the city because that would solve all of my so-called problems!" reasoning, which tends to be my go-to solution.  I guess I don't really mean it, but my mind goes there all the time.)

But to recap:  Georgia started first grade.  June started her Montessori kindergarten year.  (We're planning on putting June in public school kindergarten next year, though, so I still think of this year as an extra year of preschool for her; we're not really sure what to call it.  You'll notice in the photos below that we haven't made her a "Class of 20__" poster yet, because technically the jury's still out on whether she'll move on to kindergarten or first grade next year.)  Waylon started 3 year-old park district preschool.

Georgia got a big case of nerves in the days leading up to her first day, but I think she got all her tears out of her system beforehand, because she has had none at the drop-offs.  (I was nothing short of stunned by this on the first day.  To be clear, I don't mind a lick when she's nervous; I love her unconditionally.  It's just that I see how hard it can be on her, and I see how earnestly she tries.  So, for each small victory and measure of progress, (of which there have been many in the last year), I am proud and happy for her.)  As expected, her first few weeks were rocky, coming home wiped out with complaints of the long day and having to figure out the lunch routine.  She's currently sitting at a peanut-free table in the cafeteria, which has presented a few extra challenges.  Also, it didn't help matters that Georgia only made it to 2.5 days of school before being sent home sick!  Then came Labor Day weekend.  So, it took us until the third week to accomplish five full days in a row.  Recently her class was issued iPads, (which I have mixed feelings about, but am slowly coming around toward), but I have to say that her excitement about wondering "Is today the day I'll get my iPad?" was just the carrot we needed to get over the hump and have her eager to return to school each day. 

This is June's second year at Pathway Montessori, and now she's part of the "top of the heap" - the kindergarten aged children who get to look at things a little more in depth and serve as leaders to the littler kids.  (Or so the Montessori people say.)  I can't say I'm totally in love with the place, only because June doesn't seem to be totally in love with the place, which is a sharp contrast to her continued lauding of her 3 year old co-op preschool in the city, including placing her former teacher, Ms. Linda, on a veritable pedestal.  It's hard to say what of this praise is deserved and what is revisionist history.  I'm not sure how to describe June's attitude toward school.  She frequently says she doesn't want to go, and voices several mild complaints about the place, but then hops out of the car with a smile and is smiling when I pick her up.  I hope that's a good sign and that her reluctance just stems from preferring to hang out with Waylon and me and go on adventures?  I do intend to pull her out as much as possible this year to do just that; it's all part of our plan to slow down and draw out early childhood and push off the attendance policies of public school.  What's the rush, right?  But it's also a plan that I have second-guessed so much that I'm embarrassed to admit it.  Why can't I just make a decision and move on, be grateful that we even have these choices, and not obsess?  Well, tuition is expensive, and though her birthday falls just 12 days before the cutoff, in many ways she was ready to start public school.  I think she could've hacked it.  But between wanting to keep our kids spaced grade-wise just as they are chronologically, and wanting to give her another year of half-days and as much freedom to play as possible, we've decided this path is right for our family.  That's the key, I know - there is no "right" answer.  I just wish I could shut off the pesky part of my brain that thinks about what everyone else is doing and then feels insecure about our choices.  (Shut up, brain!  Leave me alone!)   

Waylon loves his preschool and confidently marches right in each day.*  He and June are both kids that have to be reminded to say goodbye and give mom a kiss before parting.  (Sidebar:  please, please, thank your lucky stars if you have one of these children.  I often hear parents jokingly say, "I don't know what's harder, having a kid crying about leaving, or one that forgets to even say goodbye!"  I realize these are always good-natured remarks, but just in case there was any actual doubt in anyone's mind, let me answer that for you:  it is much, much harder to deal with children who are upset.  It is no picnic for parent or child.)  Funnily enough, Waylon is a better reporter than either of the girls about what goes on at school.  He comes out chatting and happy.  There's not much to his preschool in a way, but that's okay with me, because he basically just turned 3.  He may be a third child, but due to various circumstances, his is the fifth preschool we've tried!  I could write my own preschool review book at this point!  Right now, my only tiny beefs with the place are that it's not long enough (twice a week for 2 hours, which after subtracting travel time and June's drop-off gives me only 1.5 hours of freedom to actually get anything done, which lately has been consumed by billable work), and apple juice. 

[Another sidebar:  I think you all should watch the documentary movie Fed Up if you haven't already.  Pretty sure you can get it via Netflix or iTunes.  I had this whole rant about preschools serving apple juice written, and then deleted it because, well, you'll think I'm crazy, and besides, there are refugees, and wars, and poverty, and disease, so apple juice is not a big problem in the grand scheme of things.  But then I watched Fed Up last night and felt like, no, my little pet peeve actually does matter.  By the way, the movie is not about apple juice or preschool, per se.  Anyway, you should totally watch it.]

On to the pictures!  By the way, next year Joe and I are totally getting our hair done and wearing new outfits for this first day business, what with all the photos. ; )  Okay, I will at least get up and shower for BOTH first days next year.   

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{This picture is so dorky I can't *not* include it.  Joe leaving for the train.} : )

Goodbyes on the playground...



[The following week...First Days, Round Two!]:
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Showing off some "ballet moves"...
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And they're off!

(Okay, one more for good measure, because there is little on Earth cuter than three year olds sitting in cubbies waiting for dismissal.)

*Update:  Okay, so I wrote this about two weeks ago and then ran into technical difficulties getting the pictures uploaded.  And now, Waylon's taken to crying at the drop-offs.  : (  (His teachers report that he recovers fairly quickly.)  Maybe the excitement of newness wore off?  Hopefully it's a passing phase.  Hang in there, Waylon.  You are "Special Person of the Day" tomorrow at school and everyday at home. 


Susan said...

I don't think you should worry about your choices...especially not compare them to those others are making. If it makes you feel any better, TONS of parents in Dallas hold their younger kids back. People joke that it's the trend. It's actually gone totally overboard. The cutoff here is July 31, but parents are commonly holding back kids with birthdays as late as March. My sister held back her oldest (his bday is just 5 days before the cutoff and he really wasn't ready for kindergarten), but he is not at all the oldest in his class.

Sarah said...

Yay! The pictures are so cute!
We’re trying to decide what to do with Mia next year too with Montessori vs. Public School. It seems like everyone her age is going to move on, so we’re thinking maybe she will too but I’m not sure if that would be best or not. And I had no idea about the trend of holding kids back. If only schools were better places for kids these days, then we wouldn’t have this problem. Although I guess we’ve come a long way from the one-room school house with the snapping ruler.

And yes I did see Fed Up and… why do we put up with this madness? I was kind of disappointed that they only addressed obesity as the primary epidemic that results from this stuff and didn’t get into the other less quantifiable problems. Hopefully there’s a sequel in the works. I’m so embarrassed for our country and what the history books will say about our “advanced” culture of fake foods and brainwashing.

Anyway, congrats on getting the school year started off right! And give yourself a break, you have three young children, that’s like the equivalent of 12 kids decades ago. And 2 hours of preschool is definitely too short.

Ipads in first grade?

Ann Price said...

First, welcome back. You've been missed! ;) If you see your blog stats and keep wondering who the hell in NYC is checking your site daily for an update, well, hello, it's me.

Now on to the kids. They are adorable here. Love Georgia's sleepy eyes and big smile. And June looks like she matured several years. Where did that little girl go?? And Waylon. Just stop it. He's such a handsome little devil with all that sisterly love to make him grow. Glad to hear that things are starting to get in a groove, though I realize grooves aren't everyone's thing. I really love summer and all the possibilities of mixing up the schedule too. It's hard to do the same thing day in and day out. But I feel like kids need that and love it much more than we realize. Even when they're bitching about it. So hang in there and hope you find some peace in that hour and half. Woo hoo!

And of course, I am totally intrigued by your first aside about the housing/funk/suburb conundrum. It's one that Nacho and I have been entertaining as he embarks on a new job this month. We have options to move and have been looking at places around Boston and north of there (Portsmouth, NH). And while it seems beautiful and appealing in so many ways (we could own a home! great schools! outdoorsy stuff!) I can't help but think I would have a hard time adjusting to the lack of social opportunities as a stay at home parent. So yeah, I'm curious to hear more about your city v. burb observations also because I know a friend who actually DID move back to our neighborhood after a year in VA and she is warning us all not to move. Ever. So there's that.

Anyway, in summation....good luck with the school year...keep blogging....and kick that funk in the ass.

katandkarl said...

I love this post. I know we talked about it in IRL, my worrying obsession is the other way (Our cutoff is July 31 in AR) and Nate (late June bday) is consistently one of the very youngest everywhere... I worry about it ALL the time - especially in his very structured public school setting - even when his teacher and administrators assure me he is FINE in the first grade.

Want to come have coffee so we can analyze and dissect together?!?! :)