Grade 1 is not for sissies

20130326-204307.jpgEtienne and I went to our first Parent/Teacher meeting with Daniel’s teacher this evening.

I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to these things (besides being a little nervous that our child might be a serial killer) as the teachers over the years have pretty much always commented on how he only plays with his girl BFF, how friendly and affectionate he is and how bi-lingual he is. He battled a little with Afrikaans last year in the transition from an English to Afrikaans school and was sent for speech assessment. We then almost got bullied into speech therapy earlier this year which we politely declined, wanting to give his teacher a chance to get to know him first and make her own recommendation.

Thank goodness we did as his vocabulary is great and his speech has improved in leaps and bounds.

Daniel’s teacher is the also apparently the favourite Acrikaans teacher in his grade and some of the Moms were a little surprised that we cracked the nod last year (I see I didn’t blog about it, I’m such a wuss), a couple of them made me feel that I somehow didn’t work hard enough to get my child into the best class. Yes, I know, I sound oversensitive, but you had to be there. In my defense, I didn’t really know anyone, it was at a Friday afternoon birthday party I took leave for to attend with Daniel and there was no wine. I cannot really be held responsible. But I digress.

His teacher really enjoys our son and yes, a little bit of me thinks that she must say that to *all* the parents, but I’m willing to roll with it. She apparently has a system where there are little ‘warning sticks’ to show the kids when they are being disrespectful etc and all the sticks went missing. She eventually found them at Daniel’s desk. He apparently hid them because he didn’t want any of his classmates to bet into trouble, not because he was constantly getting into trouble. The little man wanted to help his friends, how sweet is that?

So all in all, our son is not a serial killer, doesn’t need speech therapy and is doing extremely well overall. And he made friends with some boys, but we could already tell by the new real boy play and some of his language. In fact, just the other day I thought he said ‘fuck’ under his breath and when I asked him what he had said he sheepishly confessed to ‘fart’. Not something he’ll hear in our house in a hurry.

We say poep anyway.

The Language post

When I arrived home last night there was a note in Daniel’s school book asking us to please make an appointment to see the teacher.  I hate those notes, I really do.  They send me into complete worst-case scenario mode.  By this morning I was ready to take Daniel out of the school because the teacher had (wrongly) insisted he had some terrible learning disability and wanted to put him on drugs.  All fabricated and in my head.

But, I puckered up, sucked it in and went off to the school to see if I could grab the teacher first thing so I don’t spend my day looking for child psychologists and other schools just for incase.

You might recall my angst-ridden (I can hear you gasp in shock there.  What?  ME?  Angst-ridden?) posts late last year about whether to put Daniel in an English or Afrikaans class and how, short of whacking me on the head, Etienne finally managed to put things into context for me and we decided to put Daniel in the Afrikaans class.

We weren’t worried as the majority of our friends and his BFF are English, so he would still have plenty of exposure to English.

At the end of the first term Daniel’s teacher expressed a little concern over the fact that he was mixing so many English words into his sentences and so we have been correcting him at home whenever he does it.  But we do know that he almost thinks in English and then directly translates into Afrikaans, which means that the construction of his sentences gets muddled.

Today the teacher expressed more concern over the language issue as well as his gross motor skills. The gross motor skills are being addressed, but the language thing sent me into a bit of a tizz.  There is apparently someone at the school that will assess him and give us a recommendation, so we will wait and see.

This also made me think: Daniel is a 1 or 2 friend child, he doesn’t have loads of friends that he demands to play with outside of school, so in that way he hasn’t been exposed to a lot of Afrikaans kids.  We love his BFF and we are certainly not going to force him not to play with her, but we also can’t force him to play with Afrikaans kids. Can you imagine: “Sorry boy, we don’t want to play with the English children, rather go play with the Afrikaans boys”

As if.

So, what is important is that he is happy with the friends he has and hopefully we’ll sort out the rest with time.

Right?

Ps:  His second front tooth is literally hanging by a thread and he looks like Quasimodo.  We crack ourselves every time he opens his mouth.

School Stories

I like change.  No actually, I LOVE change.  I love trying (most) new things and am always up for a last minute venture.  I thrive on change and the challenges it bring.
Change is the bomb.

Or so I thought.

We went to Daniel’s Orientation day this morning and I did not handle it very well (to say the very least).  Daniel was NOT happy about being

  1. In an Afrikaans class and
  2. Not being in the same class as his English BFF.

But we (Read: Etienne) managed to get him settled and off we went to the school hall with all 300 000 other parents.

There were 2 very grown up (i.e. Grade 7) kids that did an oral (WITH PowerPoint nogals) that were really confident and well spoken.  I couldn’t connect the dots in my head from where we are now to having kids that big.  It’s seems so, well, grown up.  Our kids are small, they are still in many ways our babies.  I know Daniel is only in Grade R next year so technically he isn’t in “big” school yet.  But still.  All three of our little babies are going to turn (sob) into those big kids.  Part of me wants to scream “It’s just not fair!”

I had this intense desire to go and hide in a bathroom for a while (Gina was talking about this on twitter the other night).  And then I wanted to run a mile.  And then I thought HA! I’ll just have another baby so I’ll still have a baby in the house when Daniel goes to school.  Don’t ask me about the logic behind that one.  No idea. Not like that’s
going to happen.

The school is a big school, they are deliciously well organized and have a really good
reputation.  And the Head Mistress scared the living bejesus out of me.  She’s very
direct.  I normally love direct.  I’m normally the one that scares the bejesus out of people.

She reminded us several times that every child has a different experience and that
each child is different.  I shall use this as my mantra going forward.  I’ll be the crazy chick chanting it in the car every morning for the first year my son spends at “big” school whilst bashing my head against the steering wheel.  There was talk of classes and aftercare and extra murals and download this application of the school and PTA and fundraising and don’t forget to buy that and take note of XYZ.  I felt like my head was going to explode.

And every time I questioned something people looked at me like I was mad.  They all have this attitude of “don’t worry,it’s taken care of”.  I battle to believe that anything is ever just “taken care of”.  For example, at aftercare I ask about the food and try to explain about all Daniel’s allergies.  I got waved away with a “we will take care of it”.  (Can you say Anal Retentive Mother?)  They probably did think me a little strange.  I
just felt like I was wringing my hands in angst and they were rolling their eyes.  And part of me doesn’t really blame them, they’ve probably seen it all before.

So what did I learn today:  I’m not that cool with change after all. But I’ll get there.

And when Etienne and I went to collect Daniel from his New Teacher in his New Class he
was just fine.  He wasn’t huddled in the fetal position on the floor wanting his BFF or his parents.  He was completely and utterly fine.

How rude of him.  I mean, really.

Here they are in the bath last night.  I had to take a pic, because I don’t know how much longer they’ll all fit in there!  Isabel in the middle.

An Aftercare question and Poll

As is usual for this time of year I have been angsting about childcare for next year.

Daniel is going to Grade R at the school down the road and we are working on a plan for the girls for next year that could potentially be spectacular.  But it’s still in the works.

It’s around Daniel’s aftercare that Etienne and I have had many arguments disagreements heated discussions debates conversations.  See, it’s like this: Etienne had a stay-at-home Mom all his life.  In fact, he only went to any kind of school when he was 5, which certainly had it’s own set of challenges.  I, on the other hand, had 2 parents that worked full-time.  (I’m not whining about it, I totally get that they both had to work.)

The reality of my after-school life was that I was at various stages at home in the afternoons with a domestic worker, a latch-key child, in aftercare and with a lady who had a really creepy husband.  The only time my Mom was at home was the 3 months she was on Maternity leave with my sister and I was in Grade 1 at the time.  So, understandably I am really worried about what would be the best for Daniel, especially knowing that he leans toward his Dad’s introverted personality type.

Right now it is just not possible for me to not work full-time as sucky as that is, so we need to make a plan.

So here’s a little poll and I would very much appreciate it if you could vote and leave a comment if there is something I didn’t cover.

Please note:  I want to know what your reality is and would welcome any advice you could possibly give.  Even if you tell me to just suck it up.

Light-bulb moment

Daniel turns 6 in May 2012. In South African terms that means that he would go to Grade R next year and then Grade 1 in the year he turns 7 (2013). The girls will only go follow 2 years after him.

I have been writing an angst-filled post about what school to send the kids to in my head for the longest time. I was going to carefully lay out the pro’s and con’s of the various schools we are considering.

Just briefly, there are were 2 schools on our ‘short’ shortlist. The one is the reason we moved to the suburb we live in because it has a really good reputation, but I just felt it was way too big. Big classes, many classes. Everyone that has their kids there love the school. In fact, it is the main feeder school for the pre-school our children are at now and many of Daniel’s mates will be going there next year.

The other school is the school Etienne and I went to (yes, we went to the same Primary school). He loved it as he grew up with all the kids and they are still his best friends. I hated every single minute of it. Hated most of the kids and the parents as we moved halfway through my Grade 7 year from a small town and a lot of the little girls were snobbish backstabbing bitchy little primadonnas.

I would run into these girls from time to time since then and it would still feel like they were looking down their noses at me like I’m a second-class citizen (my own shit, I know). Now that I’m all grown up I’m not really phased at all. People just are who they are and I have too many fabulous friends to spare a self-destructive thought for these folk.

I have been leaning toward sending the kids to this school because it is smaller, in a really good area (we would probably have to move to be able to put the kids in there, but not far) and also has a pretty good reputation. I forced my own little-girl horror down and thought that it might be “giving our children the best”.

Because all we want to do is give our children the best. Always.

Until today.

One of those girls that was at that school with us happens to work for the same company I work for now and we often run into (pass) each other. I always try to catch her eye to greet her, because God forbid someone should think I am rude. And she mostly avoids me. Which makes me feel 12 years old and very, very small.

Then I realised something. If our children go to ‘that’ school it might not be the best choice for them. They might turn out to have as much emotional shit as I do or they might turn out like that snobby, bitchy chick. And I don’t want my kids to be either of those. (I hear you wonder why their father turned out so nice. He’s freaky that way)

So kids, sorry. Mommy works, Daddy works. We live in a pretty good area with a damn fine school just down the road. And there will be other issues you will have to deal with, but they won’t be the same issues Mommy had to deal with (hopefully).

We do the best we can. Always.

Love you muchly.