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.)


April said...

I love how you put Suzie on the spot. That'll be more effective than a swift kick anyday. I'm sure there is a lovely little girl/boy in that class that Charis will connect with in no time.

Anonymous said...

Cori, It's been SEVERAL years since I experienced the beginning of school with one of my kids, but you brought it all back as if it were yesterday.
Laura R.