21 September 2009

Charis' First Day at the 'Garten (Part 2)

At precisely 8:00, the doors opened, and we made our way down to the classroom. The place was swarming with parents. That is, as a matter of fact, one of the reasons we chose this school; parental involvement is a fundamental part of the school's operating procedure. Parents volunteer for lunch and recess duty, volunteer to help with classroom projects and to drive on field trips, volunteer to bring snacks to the kids...the list goes on and on. We loved that when we visited. It is reassuring to know that we will know who our kids are friends with, and studies show that students whose parents are closely involved with their educational process are more likely to succeed. I've already had the opportunity to do lunch duty. I don't think Charis enjoyed it very much. Speaking of not liking things much, check out her face in this picture. She is SO not sure she likes this. I thought for a minute she might cry. It was this fact that actually kept me from crying; I figured it would be harder for her to leave me if we were both crying, and I really didn't want kindergarten to start that way for her. She should have fun! She should be excited to learn! Her evident fear helped me to be strong and encouraging in that moment.

When we arrived at Mrs. N's classroom, we noticed the the other kindergarteners were lined up against the wall. We stood there until Mrs. N began to usher the children in. She greeted them all warmly, shaking their hand and saying something like, "Welcome to class! I'm glad you're here, [Charis]." This is standard procedure, too. I guess it helps the kids learn good manners?

Then, before sending Charis into the classroom, she attempted to rip her head off. Oh, I kid. She cupped Charis' face in her hands and said, "I'm so glad to see you!"

And then Charis walked into the room and I thought I might die. I began to walk away, fumbling for my tissues, hoping I wouldn't make a fool of myself in front of the much-more-stoic parents of the upper grade children.
That is, until I noticed a couple of parents going INTO the classroom with their kids. Really? Are we allowed to do that? Shoot, who cares? I thought. I'm goin' in! I wiped away my solitary tear and marched right into the room, like I belonged there. Charis was identifying her cubby and hanging up her backpack. That red arrow is pointing to her arm. Glad I got that shot of her arm. She's really going to treasure that someday.

I watched Charis begin to color her butterfly picture (with a pencil).

I watched her tell her little sister what everything was.

I watched as the teacher directed them to their spots on the story rug.

And I watched as Charis was chosen to select her favorite donut as they chanted some kind of song.

And then, after I'd watched Charis acclimate for about 20 minutes, I slipped out with nary a tear. She seemed to be doing well. She was following directions. She wasn't crying.

Fast forward to 3:15. I took Judah and Ruby in with me to pick Charis up, eager to hear all about the fun she had and the friends she made and how much she loved it...only to find that she didn't. She didn't love it, she didn't make friends, and she was grumpy. VERY grumpy. It took me a while, but I finally realized that she hadn't, of course, had a nap. Charis was still napping up until Kindergarten Day 1. We knocked her bedtime back to 7:30 and hoped for the best for Day 2.

I never realized what a difficult transition it would be for her. I thought it would be all sunshine and happiness, and the first week brought only fatigue and loneliness. Even as I write this, she hasn't made any close friends. And around the 6th day of school or so, she seemed extra grumpy as she got into the car. I asked her what was wrong. "Suzie Applewood (not her real name) HATES me. She thinks I'm too silly and doesn't want to be my friend." My heart broke. Stupid Suzie Applewood. She should BE so lucky as to be friends with my wonderful little girl. I refrained from asking her where Suzie lived so we could go have a few choice words with her momma. I did, however, tell her that I was certain there were other very nice girls in her class who would like her exactly the way she is. It's Week 3, and she is still a bit of a loner. I never in a million years thought I'd write that about Charis. But I am confident that in time, she will find a sweet friend to be silly with. Maybe it will be Bella or Bailey orElla or Kaylie. Maybe it will be Yeaniva or Paris or Arylon or Allison. Maybe it will even be Suzie.

(On a side note: on the day I had lunch and recess duty, I met Suzie. "Hi," she said, "I'm Suzie. I sit next to Charis." "Oh, hello, Suzie," I replied. "I've heard a LOT about you. Tell me, are you being a very good friend to Charis?" Suzie looked flummoxed for a few seconds before finally uttering a very indecisive "yes?" Then I kicked her in the shin. Or maybe that part just happened in my head.)

Charis' First Day at the 'Garten (Part 1)

First of all, let's get this out of the way: take note of how dark it is in these first few pictures. Yes. It is essentially still nighttime, a fact Charis reminded me about when I went to wake her up that morning. It was the first day of school, though, and there wasn't any chance we were going to be late. I'd even arranged for Judah to spend the night at Auntie Beth's house the night before so I'd have one less child to get ready to go on the first morning. I woke up ridiculously early and shared morning space with my husband. We've never had to do that before. In fact, until school started, I'd convinced the kids to sleep until at least 8--well after the sun had established its place in the sky, and well after my husband had left for work.

Weren't the good old days great?

Plus, I didn't want to run out of time to take Charis' First Day picture. Every parent needs one of those, right? She stood patiently for this first one, but then...


"Almost done, sweetie. Just a few more."

"Mom, we need to go!"

"We neeeeeeddddd to gooooooooo!"

"Fine, then. go get buckled. We're pretty early, but at least we'll get a parking spot."

"Thanks Mom! I'm so EXCITING!"

You can't really tell it, but this photo was taken on a side street next to Charis' school. I knew I'd walk her in that first day, and as I drove through the parking lot and saw that EVERY. SINGLE. SPACE. WAS. TAKEN. (a full 20 minutes before school was to start, mind you), I figured my best bet was to head for the street and park as closely as I could.

I usually keep the van stocked with umbrellas, but the children have a habit of removing them. So that morning, we waited in a wee bit of drizzle until they let us in to the school.

Funny...the closer we got to the school and to her actual classroom, the more visibly nervous Charis became. I would never have guessed it to be so; Charis is by far one of the most social, outgoing little girls I know, and I was convinced that she'd take to the Kindergarten social scene like a koala to eucalyptus.

By the time we were next to the door, ready to be let in, she looked downright petrified. Charis, who ALWAYS has something to say, was speechless.

I had come prepared with tissues, knowing that I was likely to dissolve into some sort of tearful puddle as my baby girl walked triumphantly into class for the first time. I mean, we never even sent her to Preschool, so this was really, in all aspects, her first day of school ever. This was the first day I was sending my precious daughter to spend most of her day with complete strangers. The first day she'd carry a lunch with her and eat it with other kids, not sitting at the kitchen table with us. Yes, she's crazily independent, and of course, she'd love it wholeheartedly by the time the day was over, and no, I was not emotionally prepared to let her go do that.

to be continued...

Eye, Eye, Judah.

So a week or two ago, on the Big Canning Day, Beth and I were in the kitchen working when we heard Judah crying in the living room. All of our kids were in there, and it is just not unusual for one of them to be crying at any given moment when they're all together, so I was not initially alarmed. The crying continued and even escalated, though, so we went to investigate, and we found Judah really was upset. Apparently, he tripped and fell into the coffee table (not that piles of toys on the ground had anything to do with that, oh, no), narrowly avoiding putting his eye out with the corner.
The area around the eye swelled immediately. Judah's head injuries tend to get bad really fast--lots of blood in there?--and I figured we'd ice the area and watch its progression from this lovely shade of lavender to the green and yellow shades that always follow it.
When we woke in the morning, I realized it had to get worse before it got better. Judah could barely open his eye, and the gentle lavender color was replaced by this deep magenta hue. Also, the color extended all the way around his eye now. We had Sunday school the next day. We were worried about what people would think.
As always, though, Judah rolled with the punches. Here he is posing gamely for the camera. We were at Elise's birthday dinner. This is Judah after the french toast and bacon, and before...
he inserted his head in his ice cream cake.

Two weeks later, he is now back to normal, but may be steering clear of that coffee table.

03 September 2009

These Feet Were Made for Walking

Today, Ruby took 16 steps in a row, unaided and unprompted! That's right--she walked of her own volition! If I'd had my camera anywhere nearby, I would have taken some pictures. So sad. It was not nearby. But it seems we're seeing the beginning of the process, and before we know it, she'll be running! (I know this one from experience.)