Last Thursday, I went to the lower elementary school in our town for a "first time parent" coffee. This was specifically for idiots like me who are sending our children into the public school system for the first time.
I was fortunate to walk in with other parents who were equally clueless on the whole school system. We filed into the cafeteria and sat in the miniature chairs while we waited for the principal (or princessapal according to Soleil) to talk.
We also quickly discovered the fears that we all held. The first was the busing. The assistant principal was kind and laid out the pros and cons of restraints in the buses, but the upshot was that our school buses do not use restraints. I distinctly remember thinking "laws of physics" when she tried to describe how safe the padded seats were. Others feared the fire evacuation procedures, while even more feared bullies.
The thing that struck me the most was how elementary schools have changed since I was in them about 30 years ago. First, the schools appear to be better equipped for the emotional needs of the child. I remember how my school was very much concerned about how the child performed and that was it. Second, the school was well designed. My elementary contained all of the grades from K-5. We had three such elementary schools around the town. Here, we have 2 elementary schools; 1 for K-2 and the other is 3-5. The schools fit the smaller children better. The gyms are set for the K-2 size kids, the library was set up in a great environment for small children in terms of books and spaces.
This meeting sent me into a tailspin. I decided I needed to solidify the nanny situation. NOW. Panic set in, something that I thrive in is panic. The first thing I did was try to remind myself that nannies are not looking yet. That was hard. Jay reiterated his view point that we should use the town’s recreation department’s after school care. I fought it. Again. And then I had to stop and re-evaluated my position.
Why am I so against this? I thought and thought, but it wasn’t until a friend needed advice for daycare that it hit me.
If you are parent, do you remember that point when you realized you would see your child soon? That in just days, minutes, you would look into those eyes and try to see this new soul in your life? How absolutely terrified you were? How you looked forward with excitement and trepidation?
Guess what? I am there again. We are leaving babyhood beyond. Luna gave up her booster seat while I was in Florida. She now sits in a regular chair, no booster or anything. She is going to the potty on her own more and more. Soleil can recognize almost 50 or more words when we are reading books, Today, she figured out, via phonics, how to spell my name. We are leaving the familiar territory of babyhood and entering the school years. Quietly, slowly, we have reached another stage in this winding journey.
Part of avoiding the after school program has been the words. "After School". This means Soleil will be IN SCHOOL. ACK! When did this happen? I don’t remember my first day of school, but I do remember Kindergarten. I remember the anger of being told that I wasn’t allowed to read the next page when the teacher was reading a book and wanted us to figure out what was happening next from the pictures. I remember putting those flower shaped butter cookies on my milk straw and the tiny 8 oz milk bottles they served us in kindergarten. I remember being switched between 2 different elementary schools twice because they needed to even the numbers and I lived near the border of the locations. These are really memories. More than what I can remember from when I was 2-4 years old.
Soleil is now at the age where she will remember her days forever. She is going to enter a microcosm of our society. Her independence will become important here and she will learn more than book stuff in her school years.
In the back of my mind, the idea of a nanny/sitter would keep her as my babe, a young child. After school pushes her away and older.
How silly. I needed to see the fear and excitement in a pregnant woman’s eyes to see the same in myself.
We are still debating the after school program versus a nanny (you should see my financial vs emotional spreadsheets), but at least now I understand why I have been so against this.
We are going to embark on a new phase of life in September. Almost as big as becoming parents. And we will get through it, and enjoy it!