Yesterday I took 9 yo and 6 yo for a mandatory tryout day at school. It's the elementary portion of the preschool that 6 yo and 3 yo attend. The night before, as I was telling kids to prepare them, 9 yo said: "I don't have much choice, do I?" and I wanted to scream: you had choices for the past five years! You could have appreciated homeschooling. You could have tried to control yourself, or do relaxation techniques, or not be so stubborn, or... something. But you didn't. And I'm burned out. And we are trying school for a change. Let's hope they take you.
But I didn't. Instead I asked boys to have everything they need for the morning, since I had to take them in by 8:15 and pick them up by 10:30.
My husband was on overnight call that night, and we have a guest staying in the space where teh boys keep their clothes. Luckily for me, my husband was able to come home in the morning to drive 3 yo to his preschool at his usual time. But before he arrived, I asked 9 yo and 6 yo to get dressed and get breakfast before we drive out. That's when 9 yo went into total meltdown mode before 7 am: he could not find his clothes, and the rest of his clothes were in the space occupied by our guest who was still sleeping. I calmly told him to get into his clothes from the previous day. He screamed that he they are not in the laundry, and he has no idea where they went. I told him to rummage through clean laundry of 11 yo and put on something of his (the boys are almost the same size). He screamed that he will not do this and he cannot go. At this point, I had 3 yo tantrumming about his breakfast not going according to his plan and baby crying to nurse. Did I mention that it was 7 am? I just ignored 9 yo.
My husband sweetly informed me that he will be on time. I responded that I needed him now. He came home instead of going to shul and convinced 9 yo to wear his brother's clothes. Then there was no time for his breakfast, so he took a bagel to go in the car.
When we got to school, both kids went into appropriate classrooms. 9 yo has a few friends in his, and he walked in and was greeted warmly. 6 yo was all of a sudden very shy. However, she did separate and walked to the listening center. I turned around and ran, full of mixed emotions. The building is not well-suited for a school. It was a last-ditch attempt by the previous administration to find temporary rental space. I was told that the school will be held here next year, but the plan is to find a permanent home the following year. However, after bright and cheery Montessori preschool, the gloominess and darkness was the first thing my husband and I noticed on our tour. I know it's not something they can do much about, but still, it feels more like a dungeon than an institution of learning.
When I picked up the kids, they both seemed in good spirits. The teachers said that they did fine. 6 yo made a project. 9 yo did a few pesukim in Chumash. He was excited that he knew them, since the class seems to be about a perek behind from where we are. I breathed a sigh of relief. In my head, we are going through Chumash so slowly, that I was sure all 4th grade students are ahead of us. Additionally, 9 yo complained about the way they do chumash: "They are given all the words, Mommy. They just need to read and translate, not to look up new words. Then they just memorize it. It's kind of lazy." Hm, and what about all the fighting that you put up in our way of doing Chumash? I guess it paid off.
6 yo was quite ambivalent about her experience. She is cognizant of her environment and she remarked about classroom feeling squishy. She also remarked how they didn't learn much. I am normally not into kids having a final say in such big decisions as going to school, but I wanted her input. That night, I had to decide: do I send her along with her brother, or do I keep her home?
It would be so much easier to send her. She would get along with other kids. She already made friends, and her current classmates would make her peer group. My life would be easier without having to manage one more child. Yet, I have very good reasons not to send her. First of all, it's that gloomy classroom. Last year, her playgroup was in someone's basement. And she is the child who rocks the boat the least, whose needs tend to be be overlooked by her louder siblings. It is only first grade curriculum, I can definitely do it. 11 yo will be home with me, and he can help out, She can play more, color more, do her little bursts of school work. There are other girls her age who are being homeschooled, so there is a peer group. I can take her to the zoo and the museums, something that she has been missing out.
So I am sending just 9 yo to school. Now, let us all utter a collective prayer that he gets accepted and that this place is the right fit for this child.