9/8/09

How Our First Days Back Went

We started school last Wednesday with a half day for Ilsa at the Montessori and a full day for Juliette at her new big-girl digs. Juliette's day began at 8 AM with a school opening assembly. She sat with her friend, Alana, and the headmistress kept her introductory remarks gratifyingly brief. Juliette was perfectly fine until it came time to file out with the other first-graders. I gave her a discrete high-five as she passed me, but her face was full of apprehension.

Ilsa, however, is an old pro. The kindergartners are the top of the class at her school, so she was excited to get on with ruling the place. Two other families have children at both of our schools, which means we see them all the time. They were in the auditorium for the opening greeting, then across the street at the playground as we waited for the Montessori to open at 8:30 AM. Ilsa's only complaint at the end of the day was that not all of the materials were set out for the students' use. The teachers slowly add materials throughout the year, but she remembers how it looked at the end of spring.

She was excited to have her own "kindergarten drawer," which the big kids used to store long-term projects and keep them safe from the little ones. This drawer is in a cabinet housed in the teachers' office, in the kindergartners have permission to go into the office whenever they need to. This was a big deal for her. That first half day then we had a lot of time to kill in the afternoon, and then it was time to walk and pickup Juliette. She looked tired but intact. Upon a detailed interrogation, I learned that she did reading, computers, art, and French, and she complained a great deal about how many rules that were to learn on the first day. I told her to get better.

Thursday meant a full day for Ilsa, which also meant a full working day for me. I forgot how much time that I feel like! I know that won't always be the case--one day I'll feel like I only had a half hour to get things done--but I thoroughly enjoyed it on Thursday.

Ilsa and I spent 45 minutes at the library after her class dismissed, then walked over to pick up Juliette. Her science teacher, who was working as the crossing guard that afternoon, came over to talk to me. She said that Juliette I become very upset when she didn't get a turn to hold the class pet rat, even after the teacher said she would have a turn first thing during the next science session.

Turns out she thought that last week were going to be her only days at Armitage. I had written the school schedule on our family calendar for last week, but then just assumed that every day after that would be school unless otherwise marked. She thought that was it--no more school. So when she was dismissed and came out to meet me, her face was completely fallen and I had to explain the situation. I told her that as long as we're in Kenosha, she's going to that school. That seemed to help.

Friday was fairly routine except that everyone was getting very tired. We finished up the day and then enjoyed a very nice holiday weekend. On Saturday, we were lazy until mid-afternoon when we traveled south to Waukegan to visit an elaborate public park that my friend Anne told us about. Keven took them out on Sunday afternoon while I worked on horrible paperwork and miscellaneous bits, and then we spent most of yesterday being complete schlubs. Nice!

Starting off with a half week with a good idea, and this four-day week will also be good for us. We found a new option for swimming now that our YMCA has shut down the downtown pool, and that doesn't start until next Wednesday, meaning everything is conspiring to make this reintroduction to the school routine as smooth as possible. Hopefully I'll have more to relate at the end of this week once the teachers finish the introductory rules and the girls have more to tell about what subjects they're learning.

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