Today begins the third full week of school for our family. Over the past couple of weeks I've gone through a range of emotions, ultimately leading to my current state of confidence and contentedness with each of my children's situations. All of them are in new schools this year; a transition that happened with relatively surprising ease, and proves to be the absolute right decision all around.
We had thought that Marty would be ready for Kindergarten, but so many variables had me quickly re-thinking that decision. Preschool is where he fits right now, and we swiftly made that shift in time for him to enter on the first day with his classmates.
The girls begin a full hour later this year. This might be the single biggest factor contributing to their positive state of mind. They are well-rested. They eat a huge breakfast - no running off with a piece of toast. And they walk to the bus stop with our neighbors, who by the way, we're interacting with in entirely new ways as a result of the kid's shared experience.
I did a few things that I believe helped give them a good start. Things like posting lists of my expectations around the house. (I'd love to have Blair's chalkboard wall for this, but paper works fine.) I had thought about providing an allowance as incentive for fulfilling some of those expectations, but haven't implimented it yet, may reserve that for when we need some other goal reinforcement. Also -- and this is a biggie -- the girls no longer share a bedroom. They used to chit-chat for at least and hour after lights out, but no more. Now they read quietly on their own (which they happen to love) and then roll over and go to sleep. Why I didn't act on that earlier I don't know.
Since the girls were used to uniforms in their old school, we've had several talks on ground rules for appropriate attire: closed shoes, no super short skirts (skorts are fine), no bare shoulders. These are my own opinions and I just want them to be able to comfortably move and play freely. They, of course, tell me that lots of kids wear other things, but then it opens the whole do-what-is-right-for-yourself conversation.
One of the things that's interesting is that they are meeting children of different faiths which has also sparked some good converstation. Joan wore her cross necklace to school one day and her new friend thought it was pretty cool that she goes to church. I was incredibly proud when they both told me they "quietly in their own mind" say grace before eating lunch.
All in all I think we are just plain talking together more often, and with broader topics, simply because they're in such a good frame of mind; not so exhausted. Not as cranky. I'd take it so far as to say that our hugs are more reciprocal too :)
I have wanted to document some of these thoughts and feelings so thanks for indulging my use of this space in which to do that.
Also, regarding memory-keeping -- I'm glad I didn't rush right home and make a first day of kindergarten layout (which I was tempted to do) since the story changed in that week that followed as we recognized some different needs. I've collected apparel tags, and those from the kids' back packs, shoes, and school supplies that I'm incorporating into their albums. I'll try to share some of that here soon.