Today was Anna’s first day at Kindergarten.
As a parent this can sometimes be a harder transition than for the child. They are concerned with establishing a whole new pecking order on a brand new play structure, while your cloying and over-sentimental brain sees this as: bye Mum, nice to have known you, so long and thanks for all the goldfish.
I have to say, I’ve not been handling this well. As you may be aware, I’m running the knife-edge of sanity anyway, plus I’m not thrilled with the school she’s going to. I’m trying to warm to it. It has lots of good things going for it, and quite frankly I have yet to find a Californian school that doesn’t look like a prison (I think it’s the tiny windows to avoid the glare of the sun, and the fact that they are all pre-fab classrooms with air conditioning units clinging like tumours to the walls). I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised by this alternative school. I’ve already met some lovely down-to-earth parents - no mean feat in this town. On the other hand I’ve also met some complete whack-jobs too. The kind of people who yell "I’d just like to give a shout out to all of you who’ve made a different choice for your child. Boo-yah!!" at the introductory meeting. That made me feel like curling up behind an LL Bean catalog right then and there.
Anna had much more pressing concerns with her new school. They have ‘rheumatic’ toilets. Quite sensible really when you know how often small kids like to flush the toilet (answer – never). Unfortunately Anna is still terrified of toilets with automatic flushes. We have practiced a lot over the last few weeks. I’ve received some good advice on this blog in the past, especially recommending putting post-it notes over the sensor to guarantee it won’t flush while her tiny derriere is exposed, but did I really want Anna to start school as that kid who can’t go to the loo if she doesn’t have a post-it note? I decided we were just going to tough it out and use as many automatic toilets as possible.
Rheumatic toilet total immersion therapy.
That doesn’t sound right does it?
We picked Anna up at noon (yes! Lunchtime! Kindergarten hours can be measured in hummingbird heartbeats - no wonder education isn’t a strong point in this state). She’d had a great time. She couldn’t really say why, she couldn’t really remember any of the kids she’d met, or what they’d done. She said playtime was ‘grreat!’, and that she’d had fun at snack (seriously, at what point do they get down to business??!). She couldn’t remember what they’d talked about, but circle time was now called ‘rug time’. In preparation for Kindergarten I’d told Anna that she needed to answer any questions the teacher asked, so she would know she already knew
something and wouldn’t make her go over the same stuff. “What, like poop makes plants grow?” ventured Anna, “I bet a lot of kids don’t know that”. So I was really disappointed when she wouldn’t tell me more about her day. I tried every angle “So Anna, I never went to Kindergarten in England, how is it different from preschool” etc etc. LK rolled his eyes and told me to stop bugging her. Anna said ‘hmm’ and then continued to bait her sister. Finally she said “you know what I did do? I used the rheumatic toilet!”
Then LK chimed in that her teacher happened to mention that Anna had successfully gone to the bathroom on the fifth attempt. Four times she and an aide had gone to the loo and each time she got there she chickened out and decided she ‘didn’t really need to go’. Eventually they realized she was scared of the flush and gave her a pack of post-it notes that she now keeps in her cubby.
The best laid plans etc. etc.
I just hope she won't still need them in College.