Today is my daughter’s first day of school. My friends who have had children before me always treat this day with reverence and nostalgia at your baby becoming a school age child. First day of school photos in their cleanest, unstained school clothes are obligatory, and usually a few tears at shed at the classroom door as your child is entering their classroom.
Me? I was happy. I shed no tears of sadness or nostalgia. I couldn’t wait for this day to come. It will be the first time in over four years where I have somewhere to send my child for three hours a day, two days a week (and if it all goes well, I may upgrade her to three days a week). I did take lots of photos, I met my daughter’s teachers, two lovely and experienced early education teachers who enjoy their job with every fiber of their being. It will be three hours ram packed with learning, playing, experiencing and socializing – with a small snack break in the middle. It will be everything I can’t offer her at home nor do I really want to. That’s why there’s a thing call pre-school, with professional and expert early education teachers to teach my child.
My daughter is exceptionally outgoing and gregarious, her little brother is more shy and retiring and doesn’t like to engage in the full body play that she enjoys. At the age of four, I often find her restless and bored at home even with all of the ‘educational toys’ we have for her (the only kind allowed around here). Her gregariousness has even chased away our cat who was her usual outdoor companion. So, at the ripe old age of four and a half, she’s ready for school. And me? I will get three hours a day where I just have one child to look after instead of two. I can’t wait for the other one to go to school.
We live in an area which is predominately upper middle class and white. And it’s not the laid back white middle class (if there is even such a thing), it’s the upwardly mobile, pushy, so scared that that any unforeseen economic event will shove them down the class ladder – therefore they are always on edge types of white people. To mask that insecurity, a sheen of false superiority and snobbery takes its place. A classic example of that is some parents talking amongst each other (and making sure everyone else can hear) where they went for summer vacation and even more importantly, where they are going skiing and snowboarding for winter vacation (yawn, eyeroll). These are not parents enjoying the first day of school activities with their children, these parents are there to see how their child compares with another and to throw away more money in after school ‘enrichment courses’ which is basically an accelerated class in writing, reading, science and math. It’s the parents of the few non-white children in my daughter’s class who are really present in mind, body and soul enjoying the first hour with their child’s first day of school. I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘scavenger hunt’ with my daughter in the classroom to show the kids where everything is in their classroom; the bathroom, washing up sinks, where certain toys are, where the art supplies are and where you hang your coat and put your backpack.
It was also nice to observe my daughter in an unfamiliar environment. I get to see how my ‘parenting’ panned out – no embarrassing meltdowns luckily but I was glad to see she was comfortable in unfamiliar places. She walks up to people and introduces herself, she says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, she responds when spoken to, I breathed a sigh of relief. She loves to draw, sing and dance. She expresses herself artistically and when I saw my girl make a beeline for the easel and drew a picture of her backyard of her cat (the same one that runs away from her) and flowers and grass; I knew she will be fine. When it was my time to leave the classroom, she nearly pushed me out of the classroom and said “I want to play with my new friends”. Her only upset was that she didn’t get any playground time today – it was a short day today to get the children acclimated to the new year and new school.
I did forget to teach her one thing – how to use a pair of scissors. It was an instrument, due to it being possibly dangerous for her and her little brother or worse she might cut his hair off if she gets mad at him, I neglected to show her how to use a pair of scissors, but I am sure the school can sort that out.