The biggest news of last week, aside from the loss of John's bike to some hooligan thieves, was that I registered Emily for Junior Kindergarten. If you're reading this from Canada's Pants, then you might be confused. Up here, in Ontario anyway, we have kindergarten starting at age 4, called, you guessed it, Junior Kindergarten, oft shortened to JK. At age 5? Yup, Senior Kindergarten, oft referred to just as Kindergarten, sometimes SK but that just doesn't roll off the tongue for me.
So, next year is Emily's first walk through the doors of a real school. She was NOT interested in this. NOT wanting to register, NOT wanting to go to the school, NOT wanting to leave Mummy or our house at any point in the future. That pretty much sums up her interest in doing anything outside of the house right now. Each day is a battle if we have something planned where there might be strangers (ACK! STRANGERS! STRANGERS WHO SHE'S MET AT LEAST THREE OR FOUR TIMES BEFORE!). I'll tell ya, 3 is not my favourite so far. My response to all this agraphobia is to ignore, cajole, point out the fun stuff - particularly the fun stuff she is missing out on by sitting in the cloak room for almost the entire morning of preschool (yah, it's that bad) - in no particular order. I'm having some baby-step success. Today at the library program (ACK! BOOKS!), she sat and read books outside the little program area which was fine until she started wandering the library. I gave her one of my usual ultimatums which went something like: "You join in the program or we go home. [whine, yell, protest by Emily] Fine, we're going home. Get your coat. [NOOOOOO! I WANT TO DO THE PROOOOGRAAAAM!] " And then she sang, danced, played instruments like there was no other place she should be at that moment. Karen 1, Emily nada. For today.
And if you think I'm being harsh, that I should let her work it out, sit in the corner if she wants, well, you're wrong. I've tried that. She sits and whines or mopes and she's missing out and sometimes so does Hope and it affects the other kids in some situations. The thing is she isn't really shy, she isn't scared. I think she gets excited and then misinterprets those feelings for fear or shyness. That's my theory after about 3 weeks of this anyway. And I am seeing some progress and no tears. It's just taking a whole lot of patience, consistency and persistence on my part.
All this to say, I had to apply it all again when we got to her school. Her school is beautiful. It is fairly new, has a beautiful atrium at the entrance. The kindergarten kids have their own hall and playground and equipment. There were glass cases of school work and projects in the atrium. That's where I led her after the paperwork was done. And that did the trick. She was into it after that and is positively excited. For now.
It was a big deal for me, signing her up for kindergarten. I didn't think I'd get very emotional but when the secretary asked me "morning or afternoon?" and I choked out "afternoon", I realized it was emotional and actually deciding what part of the day she'd spend away from me made it more absolute, firm, something that would really happen. I'm not sad. It's only 2 and a half hours a day. I'm really excited for her. It's just that it's a big step, a rite of passage, a new path for her and me and all of us.
I haven't yet explained to her that she'll be on this path for the next thirteen years at least, likely more. I'll save that gem for later.
Oh, and on the subject of university. On the way to her school I explained to her why it was important to go to school (she was trying to convince me that she didn't need to go). I ended up talking about how she could go to university one day if she wanted.
E: I go to Carleton someday! With Daddy!
Me: Sure you can.
E: I go in the morning on the train with Daddy. Then I eat lunch every day with Daddy and Jim.
Me: Daddy would love that. That sounds great.
E: I'm going to have pizza.
This whole experience of setting the wheels in motion to have Emily in the public school system, had me quoting one of my mum's favourite quotes to myself all week:
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education ~ Mark Twain
You could say that she lived her life by that, although she certainly was well-schooled, was a teacher by training and vocation, and thought higher-education was something everyone should aspire to. But, I knew exactly what she meant and I hope to guide Emily through her school years with the same philosophy. We won't be letting schooling interfere with your eduction, Emily. But don't think you'll be home-schooled either. Nuthin' doin'.
Well, this catch up post is turning into a doozy so I'm going to end here and give you volume 2 tomorrow.