It’s the beginning of an era–The School Era.
On the first day of school my mom always stood us out at the front of the house in our shiney first-day-of-school-new-clothes and took a mug shot. On Milo’s first day of school I followed in that noble tradition. The idea of school uniforms was laughable to me when we first moved here, but I admit that it makes the getting-dressed-for-school process a little simpler.
Milo declared that he was bored with school a week after he started.
I don’t believe that for a moment, thankfully. “Boring” is just a general 5-year-old criticism for anything that seems unsavory at the moment.
Still, I had to suppress a cynical laugh. “You’ll be in school for at least the next 17 years, my boy!” I wanted to chortle. Instead I muttered “So, you telling me that you know everything there is to know?” “No,” he retorted. “Well then you can’t possibly be bored.” Yikes, I sure sound like a parent.
It’s not that he dislikes school. But getting him prepared and out the door in the morning is like pulling teeth. As a five year old, he’s an expert procrastinator. A series of tasks that ought to take 10 minutes stretches into two nagging, whining hours. I was complaining to a friend who said she solved that problem with her children by making a simple game board–they zip through their tasks in order to reach the “Play” zone at the end. But for some reason it didn’t work with Milo. He stops and plays between every task, and I’m back to nipping at his heels. My friend is a school teacher herself, I have a feeling she set the game up as fun, where I just set up the board and then moved my energy on to something else.
Naomi’s showing flattering admiration for the new duds, and Milo’s quite proud of the snazzy red uniform too. Kids typically start school on their 5th birthday in NZ, so the “new entrant” class (year zero, of all demoralizing names) gains a constant trickle of inexperienced kids. Those are some super-human teachers, I have to say, to take all the raw newbies–some of whom have a structured preschool background and some of whom do not–and pass them along to the year 1 teachers just when they have them properly trained. I’m obviously not the person for that job, but Milo’s teachers are lovely.
The school is completely new, just rebuilt after the earthquakes 5 years ago, and done in the “modern learning environment,” meaning an open floor plan with no desks. I like the new building because I think it will hold the heat in the winter better than most NZ buildings.
Most elementary schools are done in this style–unattached class rooms facing inward toward a central court yard of some sort. All that asphalt would be awesome for rollerblading if it wasn’t strewn with pea gravel from the garden beds. The school has open grounds–no locked doors, no security like in the states–I walk right to the class room to pick up and drop off.
“What did you do at school today, Milo?”
“Oh, nothing.” Hum. Well, what comes around, goes around, as they say. I remember my own mom asking me how my day was and literally not being able to remember at that moment anything specific about it. It had ended 30 minutes prior and I had ceased to dwell on it.
“Sometimes we do painting, sometimes we do writing, sometimes we go to the library….” A little short on details when I asked him today, but at least it was something. He did have one story where the kids walked in on him while he was using the toilet, and laughed because he was sitting down to pee instead of standing up. The next day he figured out the lock, and that solved that problem.
I will probably have to volunteer as a parent help to see first hand how the classroom rolls. Thankfully, parents are welcome to help in the class basically any day they wish, so that will probably fit even my schedule eventually.
Today he said he liked school. “I was a little shy to start,” he admitted, “but now I know nearly all their names.” That’s a positive.
Miss Naomi has had her own first day of preschool as well, same week as Milo started. Here she is on her before-school visit the last day Omi and Abi were in town, proud to be a school girl as well. Months before her first day she had the sequence down pat: “Daddy drop me off, Mommy pick me up, Preschool!” She took Milo’s spot in the little Montessori preschool, and while it’s not unfamiliar to her (we’ve been picking up Milo together there for her whole life), she has taken a couple weeks to get used to the drop-off routine with Daddy. But when I arrive to pick her up she’s always happy.
And life goes on….this is how we age, I suppose. Babies eat and grow, eventually sleep through the night. The toddlers they became start to become obstinate and ride balance bikes. Then they start school….