Sunday, September 12, 2010

First Day of School

(Warning: Long post)

Since Angel never went to any formal Preschool, Sept 9th was truly her FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER! And she did AMAZING!

She's been looking forward to Kindergarten for months, of course. But her first experience wasn't entirely positive. We arrived in Maine after flying the entire previous day and into the night, getting only a few hours of sleep, then driving the rest of the way. So sweet Angel was exhausted! When we arrived in Portland we learned we would not be closing on our house as planned, and therefore had no place to go (or even live, for that matter), at least in the foreseeable future. So we were quite stressed. Craving some air conditioning (arriving in 96 degree weather at 90% humidity was a bit of a shock!), someplace with free wi-fi (to check the status of our house closing, etc), and someplace to sit down we sought refuge and had lunch at the nearest McDonald's. And then, just an hour or so after
making our way to Portland, it was time for Angel's Kindergarten Orientation. If she hadn't been so excited about it, I would have said "Not today!" But trying my hardest not to allow my own personal stresses/etc to negatively affect my children, I decided we should try to make it. The Mr. and I had to go prove our identity to our loan officer (for the umpteenth time) so Opa graciously offered to take Angel to Orientation in our behalf.

I'm not sure how much of the Orientation she was able to participate in, or how events played out...but the Mr. and I returned from our business to learn that Angel had vomited at Kindergarten Orientation and, as a result, had come home early. To make matters worse, we were on the way to view our house with the realtor. All our clean clothing was packed in the truck and essentially unaccessible, so the poor dear had to ride around town throwing up in a McDonald's happy meal carton, sitting in, and covered with, vomit. Poor thing.

Needless to say, she might not have been thrilled with the idea of Kindergarten.

On the contrary, she was ecstatic. A few weeks before Kindergarten began, I asked if she was excited or nervous about starting Kindergarten. She replied "Both. Mostly excited because I love learning new things. But a little bit nervous too, about people saying bad words or being mean." That touched my heart.

The week before Kindergarten, we went to the Back-to-School Barbeque (once again, driving up to the school late, on our way back into town, though this time from vacation and not nearly as stressed!) She was able to see her classroom and meet her teacher, Mrs. Jordan. She immediately sat down in the reading nook and started devouring books, but when I asked her later what she thought of her classroom she said "I can't believe how many toys there are! There's even a play kitchen!" She also thought her teacher "was really nice!"

Two days before Kindergarten, she went in for "Screening". I waited in the library with Grins and Wiggles while Angel went with various teachers and other helpers for different 'screening' tests. I wasn't sure what all 'screening' entailed, so I tried to question her about it afterwards.
Me: "What did your teacher do with you?"
Angel: "She asked me to read a book about a snowman. But it had very big words."
Me: "Oh really? Well, that should be fine because you're very good at reading big words. What sort of words were they?"
Angel: "No, not long, hard words. Big, tall words. It was a baby book - a board book. It was way too easy for me to read."
Me: "Oh, I see. So you read it just fine?"
Angel: "Yeah. But I didn't learn anything new."

I questioned her about the other various places she went, and she responded "In one room, I had to count a bunch of plastic teddy bears. Then, another lady told me 3 different stories and then asked me to tell one of the stories back to her. So I did." Her teacher told me she would be putting Angel in an older reading group since she is reading at such an advanced level, and one of the other adults said "Wow! She did amazing! You must read to her a lot! She is definitely ready for school!" I was so pleased, but also a little concerned that she might not be adequately challenged in school, since everyone was so surprised at how well she did. I suspect we shall do a lot of supplementing her education at home. But I am certainly happy to do so!

Finally, the moment arrived. Angel wanted to ride the bus and, though I was nervous at first, I decided to allow her to, at least for the time being. We went to her bus stop the day before school, to see where it would stop, etc. And when the bus came around the corner, I could no longer hold back the tears. Tomorrow, my baby would be getting on that bus and leaving me for 6 hours a day! I could not
bear the thought! But seeing her smile and watching her excited wiggle as she anticipated going to school the next day melted away my sadness. I knew that this was a big, exciting step, and that, rather than wish it away, I needed to excitedly support her. So I wore sunglasses (to hide any tell-tale tears) and a smile the first day of school!

Angel came into my room, fully dressed, at 5:20am Thursday morning (the first day of school). "Can you do my hair, Mommy?" she asked. I laughed (I was awake in bed trying to get Wiggles back to sleep) and asked "What are you doing up so early?" "I don't want to miss my bus! It's my first day of school!" was the reply. I couldn't convince her to snuggle with me; she was too afraid of missing the first day, and too excited to sleep anyway. So we got up and ready.
We were ready to go a full hour and a half before the bus arrived! :)

The Mr. went into work late so that he could share in the excitement of Angel's first day. And it was a good thing he did! When the bus came, Angel's grip on his hand tightened and she wouldn't let go. So fortunately, her sweet bus driver let the Mr. join her on the bus. (He was the only parent - what a sport!) (Had he not been there, she would have had to go alone, since the bus prohibits siblings...)
I drove like crazy to the school and after an eternity trying to find a parking spot, go to the playground (aka drop off zone)
in the nick of time. It was a zoo! I was SO glad we were there with her - I can't imagine how overwhelmed she would have been all alone! We were able to walk her to her classroom and help her find her seat.
The two other children at her table were crying miserably - so sad! - but Angel took everything in stride. I asked if she were nervous and she said "No, not really!" I gave her a kiss and said "Let me know when you're ready for me to leave." to which she replied, "I'm fine, Mom. You can go!" I had to pry Wiggles away - apparently she was ready for her first day of school too - and we left. Angel didn't give us so much as a second glance (as you can see in the picture below...I snapped a photo as I left and she's not even looking back!) And I was glad; it made leaving SO much easier! I don't know how the moms with crying children left, I certainly couldn't have done it!
I convinced Angel to let me pick her
up from school on the first day,
because I couldn't bear the thought of waiting another second to see her and hear about her day! We picked her up on the playground and I asked "How was your day?" She didn't want to talk - just wanted to play on the playground (unwinding, I suppose) as though recess had only whetted her appetite for playground play. As we walked home, however, I was able to get little tidbits of explanations of her day. "Kindergarten is longer than I thought. It was really long." and "We had to lay down for quiet time for a long time. When I sat up and looked around, everyone was just laying there. My teacher wouldn't even let us read!" My favorite: "We were so busy learning all the rules that we didn't even have time to learn anything! I haven't learned anything new yet!" She also mentioned "Mom! I got to eat at the cafeteria! It was healthy and they didn't even make me pay!" (I had sent her with a very special 'cold' lunch, explaining that hot lunches aren't quite as healthy, plus we don't want to spend the $ for 'hot' lunch everyday. But I said it off-handedly and not specifically enough...... apparently they let Kindergarteners run up a tab in the cafeteria, so she assumed she had gotten a free lunch and that, since it was "healthy" (salad wraps), she totally scored! :) I thought that was hilarious!)

1 comment:

Laanjak said...

This is wonderful! I loved your report and am so happy about her good experiences! Tell her I am happy for her and Oma and I love her (and the rest of you, too!) We look forward to seeing you in less than a month!

- Opa