Monday, September 29, 2008

On being in Kindergarten

Did you all know that Kindergarten is a German word? It translate to Children's Garden. I was lying down in the garden, looking up at the sky while SB was leaning down to talk with me, both of us laughing because we were being goofy when I took this photo. It isn't upside down, it really is right side up. It just looks upside down! Which is a bit how I am feeling right now... what is upside down and what is right side up? This Kindergarten thing is taking some getting used to!!!
My son, School Boy, started Kindergarten this month. It has been a period of adjustment, for both of us.
Thank you for all your comments about his school lunch issues. It is nice to know that other parents understand what I am going through and are facing the same issues!!! Misery loves company? Oh, I know - that sounds awful. I don't wish misery on any parent or child, it is just nice to know that I am not the only one going through all of this. No matter how old your child is, you always want the best for them. After reviewing the schedule they sent home from school, I see that they only allow 15 minutes for lunch. 15 minutes!!! And that isn't 15 minutes dedicated to eating - that is 15 minutes total. No wonder more than 1/2 his lunch is coming home, uneaten. The poor child just doesn't have time. Fortunately he doesn't have to wait in line for lunch - what do those poor kids get a chance to eat if they have to wait in line for lunch (and after paying a bizzillion dollars to boot)? On Friday he was especially hungry when he came home because he couldn't get his soup thermos open. I asked him - didn't you ask anyone to help? Well, yes he did - the other kids sitting at his table, but they couldn't open it either. Sigh. Hello! Aren't there any adults around?
After my big post about the cost of school cookies/snacks/etc. and posting about how I would send him with the 65 cents 2X a week (50 cents for a cookie or 65 for the brownie) he came home on Friday in tears - I had sent him with the 65 cents and guess what - he didn't have enough money for a chocolate chip cookie? The cafeteria staff would only give him a small cookie and it was hard -s0 he threw it away. Friday was just an all around upsetting day in the food department - couldn't get the thermos open and then a hard cookie. I double checked the schedule. It was apple/oatmeal cookie or brownie day. 50 cents or 65. What is the deal with chocolate chip? So, off we go to the school - before they close - just to find out. As a Momma, I need to know, you know? Guess what? They sell soft chocolate chip cookies every day for 75 cents. Can you believe? And by the time he waits in line to pay for his cookie/brownie/whatever - lunch is over and he doesn't eat anything - so he brings it home! I check with the teacher - she says that I can indeed pack a brownie or cookie in his lunch, which I thought wasn't allowed. So, off we go to the grocery store to buy a brownie mix (quick and simple - I highly recommend them!!!). We spend some quality time over the weekend making brownies. And today I sent him off with a "home-made" brownie. And not a piece that is 1/2 the size of the pan either - just a nice little square brownie. He is happy. At least he won't have to throw this in the trash after paying for it!!!
A note about brownies... do you know when they are done??? They are really cooked when you can poke a toothpick 1" from the edge of the pan and it comes out clean. Don't worry about the middle - it will somehow, magically, set while cooling. If you wait for the middle to set - then the edges will be as hard as rocks. So that is the "rule" for brownies - set 1" from the side of the pan.
OK, the whole snack/eating issue aside... onto to getting enough fluids... he is coming home with only 1/2 of 1 cup of juice empty (remember, I send him with 2). Why? Well, guess what? There just isn't any time allowed for drinks. He is gone SIX hours a day and only has time to drink 1/2 a cup of juice? He tells me that he is always telling the teacher that he wants to drink, but apparantly it isn't on the "schedule". And drinking isn't allowed on the bus either - even though I send a "spill proof" cup. But rules are rules and I do understand about the bus thing, the bus driver already explained to him that if someone choked she wouldn't be able to help them and drive the bus at the same time. I tell you though - any working adult is entitled by LAW to have a 15 minute break after so many hours of work, plus LUNCH (and believe you me, it is more than 15 minutes!). And that is just breaks. Don't tell me that the worker bees of the world don't have a big container of water right at their work station to sip on through-out the day. EVERYONE needs fluids. Lots of them. Because let me tell you, my poor little Kindergartener will be the 1st to tell you - well let's just say bathroom issues will arise if the body isn't getting enough fluids. I could cry. Really. But there is hope. Just when I think of getting on my big white horse and riding to the rescue - he comes home today and tells me they had a water break today at school. Glory be! And maybe, just maybe they have had a water break every day at school - you never can entirely count on getting the entire story all at once - it tends to be dolled out in dribs and drabs around here. Then again, it was gym day so maybe it is part of the gym routine? But trust me, I am really making an effort to get extra fluids into him at home during school days. Which of course just interfers with him eating his supper because then he is full of liquids! But - if I break his supper down into a few snacks - then it works. Except then we don't eat a "meal" at the table together. Well, like I said - this is a learning experience for both of us and I am trying different things to see what works best for us.
And no reports today of bullying. Phew. Last week he was punched 2 different days (by the same kid - who incidentally, got "time-out" - big whoop, is that really going to solve the issue?) and also 1 kid sings a "I hate you" type of song to him all the time on the bus - even though he usually sits 1-2 seats back from the driver. My son is especially sensitive - being an only child from a relatively peaceful household - he is reduced to tears if you so much as even use a cross tone in your voice when speaking to him. So for these things to occur in his day - it is upsetting - to both of us. Geeze - he is only in Kindergarten afterall, I don't remember ever being teased or bullied until 5th grade and if my memory is correct - it was only for that 1 year. Guess that might date me a bit because apparantly bullying is an issue now with the younger grades. Then again, he is in a class grades K-2 so maybe part of it is the older kids? I just don't know. But after a little chat with other parents at the coffee shop - bullying is a big issue. One girls K-daughter got pushed off the top of a slide last week by a 10 year old and although no broken bones (thankfully) was pretty bruised up. I didn't even know that the older kids had recess at the same time as the little guys. Sigh.
What else? Well, he is a child who strives to follow all the rules. I always thought that this was good. A Momma's dream come true, right? Afterall, he has always had me at his side, looking out for his best interests if need be. Well, now that he has started school and is away from Momma, I've had to talk with him about asserting himself a tiny bit - to let the teacher know that while he does respect the rules... sometimes exceptions need to be made. One day last week when his allergies were especially in full swing, I put his nice, soft cloth hankerchiefs in his backpack so he could get to them on the school bus, if need be. Turns out the kids have to leave their backpacks out in the hall on a hook. The teacher wouldn't let him go out to his backpack during the day. He had to use Kleenex and accomplished rubbing all the skin off under his nose. Ouch. And his nose continued to run and needed to be wiped all week, but now was rubbed raw. All because he couldn't go out for his hankerchief. Any self-serving adult would just go out to the hall and get the hankercheif, or at least I would. I guess you feel for your kids, want to scoop them up in your arms and make everything all better. But, they have to make their own way, learn the ropes themselves - when to go with the flow and when to wage battle. And of course, an ever watchful parent or advocate in the background willing to step in a bit if needed is always a plus. So, a little bit of neosporin under that poor nose and tucking a fresh hankie in his pocket was my solution - an extra hankie in the backpack for the bus. And off he goes. He can follow the rules AND still have his hankie. Creative solutions are a good thing.
As adults, we have to remember how hard it is being a kid. Really.
Not that kindergarten is all bad! It is just a learning experience and we are in the adjustment period right now. I really think that he is doing better than me, in some respects. Hey, this is all a big change for me too! He seems to delight in the structure of the classroom setting. He is learning his letters and is so excited about that!!! He already knew alot of his letters going in, but the every day review is just cementing it into his memory. Every week they get 4 different sounds - 1 letter per day with Friday being the review. They are really, really focusing on the sound of each letter with little hand motions to help him remember. He is learning how to write his letters and learning how to put sounds together to make words. It is exciting to help a beginner reader put it all together. After just a few short weeks it all seems to be coming together at a lightning fast speed now! He is signing all his work with his name, writting To:, From:, Love:, etc. He wants to know how to spell everything and is making little sentences with his frigerator magnets. Wow!!! Monday - Thursday he has homework, which is mostly a review of what they did that day, but lots of math too. Sequences, graphs, patterns, etc. His class is K, 1 and 2 and I really think that alot of his work is for the older grades, but he is absorbing it all like a little sponge! He is happy right now, so for now, it is perfect.
He likes music, art, gym, library day (he has 2 reading buddies in 4th grade who read him a book that day) moving from class room to class room. And of course, he likes recess (even though that is when the bullys seem to work up to full steam)! He comes home full of reports about who is doing a good job with homework or not, who was sick, who got time-outs, full of frustration when the entire class is held up because of a few kids misbehaving, happy to show me his school work and wants to go over his new words/sounds over and over again in his little sound book that they send home. It is a bit amazing watching him take to this whole new life outside of the home.
Goodbye my little child, hello my school child! Every morning we walk down to the bus, hand and hand. When he hops on my eyes fill with tears as I smile and wave goodbye. It's ok to be a bit teary eyed and happy at the same time, right????


The Calico Cat said...

ACK! What a horrid experience...

BTW I cook brownies in cup cake tins, far fewer crumbs that way...

Becca said...

Oh Evelyn-I totally feel your pain. DD won't start kindergarten until next year and I'm all ready alternating between being excited that she's ready for a new step in growing up and terror that she will have a bad school experience.

I'm glad you posted this-I was starting to wonder if I was the only mom who felt so conflicted about the whole thing.

Mama Koch said...

Oh, how I remember those days.

I'm glad and also sad, but my "school boy" is now a senior!

Martha said...

I teach Kindergarten in public school. Does SB attend a public school in the USA that receives federal school free and reduced money? If so, there are rules about how much time students MUST be allowed for lunch. I can get the guidelines for you.
Send SB to school with a box of tissue for sensitive noses. That will take care of the hankerchief issue. I don't want children with really runny noses to keep one hankie all day in their pocket. I have helped clean up some really, REALLY snotty noses in the last 15 years. THROW THOSE GERMS AWAY.

Katjaquilt said...

The word Kindergarten was taken over form the german language, but it has a different meaning here.
The 'german' term Kindergarten means nursery school or playschool in the US. Most of the german kids attend Kindergarten from the age of three til they go to school. The time they spend there depends on the jobs of the mothers. Depending on your town or city you can choose between 4 to 5 hours (mostly choosen by stay at home moms), 6 to 7 hours (mostly choosen by part-time working moms) or 8 to 9 hours (mostly choosen by single parents or full time working moms). We don't have special buses for the transport. Each kid is brought by parents or grandparents.
My son also attended a playgroup twice a week with the age of two. By then he was an only child and he needed to learn that he is not the centre of the universe like he thought. My daughter attending this playgroup now and she bursts into tears when she heard that the playgroup has autumn break.
It's not the case that I want to get rid of my kids during the day. I think that these playgroups and german kindergarten is good for the social education for a kid. And they will grow up and our parents' job is to teach them how to cope with the world outside. And to trust them and help them to develop self-confidance.

Laurie said...

hang on for the ride Evelyn! The best, and possibly the worst, is yet to come! They grow up way too quickly!!!

Elaine Adair said...

Ouch, ughhh, I am wishing you find another school for that child. This is all too horrid, and reminds me also of my own kids. I know they have to learn but what are they learning ??? Too much time wasted standing in line, no supervision, stupid rules, etc. We live is such an open area, that out in the country (and even in town!), home-schooling is becoming more and more popular. And those kids are ALWAYS ahead of all the others. I HATE to hear the little ones having to conform to stupidity. I am aching because of some of the riduculousness.

Sue R said...

Good grief, when did life get so complicated for a kindergartner? I have no idea what elementary school is like now, but friends with kids that age don't seem to have to go through all that. Once you get used to things, hopefully things will be better. One of the required school supplies for my kids every year was a box of Kleenex, which was kept in the classroom. Makes sense!

wild lalang said...

Aw, I feel your pain and inner conflict, I really do. I just went through a year of it. And my son's school in another corner of the world was only for 3 hours a day! It was a mixed bag, he did get tougher ... and meaner. In the process, he also developed a couple of stress-induced habits. The personality change in him was disturbing. Once school hols started, he reverted back to his former sweet relaxed self. We've pulled him out and will either look for a new school, or keep him home for a little longer.