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Uneventful is good

Another week and a half of school has passed, and thankfully, it’s been uneventful. Well, apart from one more incident of Curly putting pretty gemstone rocks in his mouth and getting sent to the office again (geez, kid). Pretty much every day now we remind him not to eat anything or put anything into his mouth at Montessori. When you ask him what will happen if he puts something into his mouth, he says “I have to go to the office.” He doesn’t like going to the office, so that’s been a good deterrent now that it’s happened twice.¬†Other than that, things are going fine. Drop-offs are now routine…we get there early enough for a parking spot, let Curly finish his dry cereal snack in the car, walk him to his line about 5 minutes before the teachers come out, and say goodbye. I always wait until at least a couple other kids are in line with him so they can keep an eye on each other (and the kids line up in front of the office so they’re being watched). He always gets a snack immediately upon pick-up, and eats lunch when he arrives at his other pre-school for the rest of the day. So even though he doesn’t get a snack at school, he really only needs to forgo eating for 3.25 hours.

I want to address some of the questions from the last school post:

“What is the rationale for eliminating snack?”
This is the first year they have done so, which was a disappointing surprise and something the teachers seem to be against as well. The rationale that we’ve been told is lack of funding and food allergies. They only allow food when it’s a child’s birthday, and it either has to be store-bought so they can see the ingredients or some kind of fruit. Our county doesn’t have a lot of money for public schools, which is sad. Personally, I’d be happy to pay a stipend to have snack reinstalled, but this hasn’t been an option. Maybe we’ll speak to the other parents about it…the PTA…the Principal (although the Principal so far sucks…)

“How committed are you to keeping curly in this school as opposed to another one?”
As long as he isn’t unhappy, we’re committed enough to keeping him there because the other schools in our area are worse. Sad but true. His school is one of the best, despite the setbacks that we’ve faced. And honestly, I think if he were starting at 5 years old, we wouldn’t be facing the same setbacks. I think the issue is them having 3 and 4 year olds, and no facilities their size, and no snack, which they still need at that age.

“Dude, what is up with their drop off policy?!”
I know. What WE were never told is that you cannot drop off 3 year olds, and what some teachers think is that you CAN. Big disconnect somewhere. These days we seem to be fine with the drop-off method I described above, and starting next year, Curly will be taking the bus. Which is a whole ‘nother bunch of crazy.

“Curly must be loving it to have an experience like that not even phase him.”
I’m not sure if he LOVES it, though he does seem to like it, and surprisingly yes, the insanity has not seemed to phase him. After 3 weeks of drop-offs, there have still not been any tears. There was one morning where he was especially clingy, but he held it together, and most mornings he’s fine.

So that’s where things stand right now. While we still have his “old” preschool to fall back on for days Montessori is closed, it’s great. I don’t even want to think about what we’re going to do the next school year (and every one after that), sigh.

Wandering Man (or more trials and tribulations)

Here’s how last Wednesday and Thursday went. As usual, we’ve been getting to the Montessori school about 15 minutes before the kids have to be at their classrooms…plenty of time to snag a parking space and walk Curly inside the building to the line he’s supposed to stand in. Might I add that his teacher is always the last one to come get her kids so we’re stuck there waiting forever. Suddenly, as of last Wednesday, it appeared all the other parents realized it sucks not to get a spot at the school and have to walk from the next building over. So they all arrived early and there were no parking spots left (they’re doing major construction in the parking lot to create more spaces, but they were supposed to be done by now and it’s a total clusterf*ck).

So Nutella gets there and there are no spaces, and the teachers who assist with the parking mess tell her to pull up and drop him off. Now, we have been told all along that this is the ultimate goal- get your kid comfortable with being dropped off and walking into the building. We didn’t think we’d get to that point for a while, but out of necessity, it happened last Wednesday. Nutella asked Curly if he wanted to walk inside himself (it’s about 50 feet to the Montessori doors and all sidewalk). He immediately and happily said “yes! I want to walk myself!” And so it went. When Nutella told me, naturally I freaked out a bit, but tried to calm down thinking there were lots of teachers and other kids there and we had already shown him where to go several times. By midday, our neighbor who was doing last week’s lunch run pick-up said he was fine, so we thought it worked out. But still…we weren’t too comfortable with the idea.

Thursday morning we arrived a little earlier, but again there were no spots. Both of us were doing drop-off, so Nutella was going to drive around the circle a few times while I walked Curly to his line. But as soon as I got Curly out of the car, a teacher asked if she could walk him to the building. I said sure! and she took his hand and they walked away. I made sure to tell her which teacher was his as well, and felt much more comfortable with that plan.

And then 20 minutes later, we got a call. It was his teacher. She said “I’m standing here with [Curly] and the Principal…I’m not sure what’s going on, but you can’t drop off the 3 year olds. Apparently yesterday [Curly] was found wandering around [the attached school next door] and a teacher brought him to where he was supposed to be.” I was taken aback and said, “Wow, no one told us that. I think there’s been a big misunderstanding…we won’t drop him off anymore, but we’ve been getting very conflicting information.” The call was quick, but Nutella and I felt compelled to write her a note that our neighbor could give her at lunch pick-up, defending our behavior and outlining the whole situation and the messages we’ve been getting about it being a perfectly fine thing to do.

Yet again, the administration is jerking us around and the teachers are all thinking different things, and apparently half are not on the same page as the Principal. Or maybe just our teacher doesn’t want her 3 year olds dropped off…because all the teachers seem to make their own rules. This place is driving me nuts.

And finally, on Friday we got a note saying Curly ate a couple coffee beans during an activity and they sent him to the nurse. The nurse listened to his breathing because they were afraid he might choke (wtf?) and washed his mouth out with water or something. First of all, if you’re afraid classroom activities are choking hazards, don’t freaking have them in the classroom. Secondly, when you eliminate snack for the kids and then put something good-smelling in front of them, what do you expect? He was fine…just too wired to take a nap that day! Right now I am very sick of school.

How it went

In one hour, Nutella will be picking Curly up from his second school of the day, and his first week will be over. And you know what…it was completely drama-free. A little bit of a logistical hassle, but Curly took it all in stride. Hopefully this will continue!

He started his first day at the Montessori school on Wednesday morning. Nutella and I were both there to see him off, and we all had to wait around a bit until the teachers finally came out and lined their students up. We stood with Curly until the teacher brought him to the front of the line and had a 5 year old hold his hand while they all walked to the classroom. There were no tears and he seemed fine. We walked out thinking it had been too easy and braced ourselves for the afternoon pick-up, which I did myself (I took off this whole week for a much-needed mental break from work). I was there early and he came out just as fine as can be, told me a couple random bits about his day and happily ate the snack I had for him in the car. He even told me he used the potty all by himself. His second school, the one he’s been at all along, was closed that day, so I brought him home for lunch and nap.

Thursday was the first day of our “new normal”- Montessori in the morning with a midday pick-up and transfer to the second school. Nutella dropped him off in the morning with no issues, and I picked him and our neighbors’ son up in the afternoon. We’re splitting the afternoon pick-ups every other week with our neighbors to help lighten the load, since their son is at both schools with Curly…same plan as us. With a little boy holding each of my hands, I took them both to the car, buckled them into their car seats, gave them each a snack, and then headed to the second school while they chatted away with me and each other. They both told me they used the potty by themselves at school. Thrilling! They arrived at the second school just in time to wash their hands and sit down to lunch, before nap time. It’s really a perfect set-up.

Today was very much the same thing. I’m honestly shocked at how well this first week went. I’m sure there will be some sort of hiccup in the future, but it’s off to a very auspicious start, thank goodness.

First day of preschool!

More on school

I appreciate the comments on the last post. We, too, feel that they’re probably asking too much of 3 year olds. However, this Montessori is a public school, so there are rules the teachers have to follow that may not always be Montessori-like but more public-school-like. Not that it excuses anything…and especially not that it excuses full-sized toilets and urinals in bathrooms that teachers may not accompany little ones in (they wait outside). The “older” children that accompany the young ones are 5 to answer one of the comments. However, it’s possible there could be children up to 13 present in the bathroom at the same time. So that’s not entirely comfortable to think about. The other red flag is that, even though I was thinking Curly would pee standing up at the urinals (and to answer another question, he has peed standing up many times, but usually leans on something, like a tree or the toilet lid) the urinals are ALL too tall. We went with him into two bathrooms in the school and there is no way he could use any of the urinals, even the shortest ones. It’s absurd. He did use the stall toilet by himself (well, I just had to position him slightly so that he backed up onto it without falling in, sigh). He’s terrible with ripping toilet paper and will keep pulling and pulling on it, and he’s never latched a public restroom door before so we’ll have to work on that. Honestly though…I think he’s right where he should be as an early 3 year old. At his current daycare/pre-school, they have small toilets and everything is easily within reach. And if a child really needs help, a teacher will assist. That’s how it should be. They are freaking 3 years old!

So we met with his teacher and the aide, and class for the 5 year olds was in session so we got to see how everything worked. The visit was supposed to make me feel better and I’m sorry to say it did not. It was semi-chaotic, mostly because of a few children that did not want to follow the rules, but I guess it’s only the first week so they’re getting used to the environment again. The bathroom situation of course was worse than we thought. Curly can’t even reach the sinks! He’ll have to go back to his classroom to wash his hands, so what good is that for not spreading germs? And then when we were being shown out by 2 five-year-old “escorts” who were very sweet, I asked them if they liked going to school there and they said “not really.” Now, I know kids don’t like school…I get it, neither did I. But they seemed really unenthusiastic and all they liked was “recess.” I guess I would’ve felt better with even a droll “it’s okaaay” but the “not really” was sad to hear.

Curly was extremely clingy for the first 20 minutes…I could tell he was close to crying after the first 5 minutes because he thought we were going to leave him there. My heart was breaking for him. After a while, he began to get interested in the things around him, and the teacher gave him some “work” to do, like sorting, scooping, and color puzzles…and he did wonderfully and was very focused. He didn’t say or do anything when being introduced to some of the other children at first, but after a bit, he would wave at anyone who said hello. He even broke out of his shell with the teacher and chatted with her, and expressed interest in having his own turn with the “work.”

I just…I don’t know. He starts Wed Sept 5 and we’re going to give it a go, I just can’t help feeling really worried, wondering if he’s ready for all that at just 3 years old.

School Daze

We found out a few months ago that Curly was chosen by lottery for the Montessori school near us. We were happy, a little anxious, and went to work coming up with a carpool plan with our nearby neighbor friends whose son was also beginning there in the Fall. And then we waited. We were told that we’d receive a letter regarding when Curly’s first day would be. But first we got a letter stating that a new principal was starting. We continued to wait for the second letter, still not having received it in mid-August (our county’s schools began classes Aug 20, and even knowing that Curly would not be starting until a little later, we were getting worried…). Finally, we got the letter…only telling us which teacher he was assigned to and not giving us a start date, but telling us his teacher would call us with that. Clearly, things were very disorganized.

Last night at 9pm(!), we got the teacher’s call. And that was just to arrange for a time when we could come to the school with Curly to meet his teacher 1-on-1 and get him acquainted with her and the classroom. We’re doing that Friday at 10am. Today, Nutella and I had an 11:30 meeting to meet all the teachers and other 3 and 4-year-olds’ parents, and have a general information session. Still no start date for us, although our neighbor-friends’ son is starting Tuesday Sept 4, so maybe us, too? Unfortunately our boys are in different classes so they won’t have each other to fall back on. We’ve been telling Curly about all the new friends he’ll make, and got him the backpack he wanted, and he seems pretty excited about his new school (always easier in theory than practice!).

The teachers explained today that the kids must be 100%¬† independent. For instance, the teachers will tell them if their shoes are on the wrong feet, but only if they happen to notice, and they won’t help them fix it. An “older child” will accompany Curly to the bathroom when he needs to go, but he must take care of all business by himself when he’s in there. Oh, and there’s only one stall in the boys’ room, the rest is urinals, joy. If he has an accident, he must be able to change his clothes by himself (as far as #2 accidents are concerned, I can only see us being called at work to pick him up because he’s going to be a gross mess…suuuuuuuuuuuucks). There is no snack break (school is in session 9 to 11:30), so he can munch on something in the car on the way there, and on the way to his current daycare/pre-school when we pick him up midday. He will not be able to suck his thumb without being told to immediately go wash his hands (good! it will help him kick the habit). And all the kids will have a “probationary period” of 6 weeks, during which if they have problems that do not improve, they will be told not to return until January.

There was more, but basically it’s a huge change and things are about to get very, very interesting when he starts. Which might be in 2 weeks. We think.

[Post script: There were a couple gems that the teachers said this morning, including “It’s Summer time, which means shorts, and if your kid has an accident it will go straight down the legs to the shoes…and I don’t want a kid with pee-pee shoes walking around the classroom” as well as “Check your kid’s pockets and backpack…if you see an adorable little koala toy..awww…BRING IT BACK! It goes with the world map!”]