Friday, July 20, 2012

afternoon kindergarten

Got the letter yesterday from the public kindergarten Frances will be attending in the fall. The letter that tells us whether we've been assigned to afternoon or morning kindergarten. Around here everyone wants morning, which means that some people who request morning are not going to get it.

Kindergarten in our town is TWO HOURS LONG. I frankly don't know what that's about except maybe the economic and social breakdown of the district, and the fact that nearly all the kids have been to some kind of preschool and come in already knowing their letters at least. Whew, got those out of the way. Let's just cut a couple of hours off the kindergarten day since we don't have to teach them that! I'm told social skills are the things best imparted in kindergarten here, and I suppose two hours is plenty for that. Though, it seems to me, all they actually have time for is the teacher to take each kid to the bathroom once. Then it's time to go.

I wanted morning kindergarten because Clark (age 4) is going to be at the Waldorf school Tuesday through Friday mornings. If Frances were in school then also, I would have FOUR WHOLE MORNINGS with only me to keep track of. That alone time is something I've been waiting for. Waiting, holding out, hanging on. A time for me to find my own work in the world. (which brings us to the subject of a post soon to come: one's work in the world. My husband has his work, my kids (of course) have theirs. Mine of late has been helping the kids to do theirs best, but I've neglected my own work in the process.)

So when I got the letter - the one that said Frances had been assigned to afternoon kindergarten - I sat down and had a good cry. A really good cry. Then I went upstairs and threw myself across the bed and sobbed into the bedspread. I cried and cried, and then I plotted about who to speak with to get this changed.

In the next day or so, before I had a chance to call the school district, something interesting happened. I thought it through. I thought about literally what it would be like to have NO TIME TO MYSELF, to always have a kid with me, every day, morning and afternoon. Frances with me in the mornings, Clark with me in the afternoons. And what I saw was a door in the wall I hadn't seen before. What I saw was the experience of having an only child, which is a thing about which I have fantasized from time to time. And it's even better than that - it's two different only children! Variety! This way, I could actually do activities with Frances I've so wanted to; activities like baking bread and crafts projects. Plus being solo with a child provides opportunity for a kind of conversation and intimacy that's not possible when you're the shepherd of multiple.

And something else - my headaches creep in the afternoon. (sometimes they assault with heavy artillery rather than creep, but again, usually in the afternoon.) I'm much better in the morning. Frances is better in the morning. She and I can hang out together during the time when we are our best selves!

Suddenly the afternoon assignment sounded like a blessing. Besides, she will be home on the bus around 3 in the afternoon which means there will be plenty of afternoon left for Clark and Frances to have time to themselves. I did wonder about that - they are such close playmates; what was it going to be like for them to be apart so much? But in the end, they will have a couple of hours every afternoon to play Baby Sam and Sisters.

Sisters is the newest game. They both dress up in Frances's clothes and have tea parties and go on vacations and cook dinner and put their babies to bed. The story line does seem to come out in Frances's favor, which is interesting. They never play Brothers, or Knights, or Pirates.

But I digress.

In addition to alone time with the kids, I think the schedule is going to help me maintain a rhythm (at least in the mornings) better than I have been. We will do the same things each week. For example, Mondays we go to the gym (and they go to the kid play area), Tuesdays grocery, Wednesdays can be bread day (in order to keep to some of the waldorf schedule and activities, we will make bread), Thursdays library and errands, Fridays crafts. Or something like that. I don't know that the afternoons will be so orderly - will have to see.

I'm actually excited about it. How funny. How funny it is when we think we know what we're going to feel. It's for one year. I wonder if at the end I will wish it could go on like this?


Amy R said...

A little bit of a "sad" thought for you (but a good rationale for being happy about the PM K placement)...those mornings are one of the remaining set times when you'll have dedicated one on one time with Frances. When Sarah did PM K and Megan went to preschool in the morning, I didn't realize that and I wish I could back and do more of what you're planning to do. Once Sarah started first grade, I felt like getting one on one time with her was a real challenge and I wish I could have more of it. Enjoy it to the fullest because once K is done, you'll have them both in the summer and then she will be gone all day. Not that one on one time is done by any means, but this is one of the last times when it will be structured to be just the two of you.

I felt somewhat the same you did about K being so short, but at the end of the year I really did feel that they had packed A LOT into those two 1/2 hours (maybe too much, but that's a different topic) and that regardless of the time spent in the building, the experience gave Sarah a foundation for "formal learning" that she did not get in preschool. Those 2.5 hours "taught" structure, rules, strategy, process...a whole host of things that I didn't even realize that she didn't have until we got to the end of the K year. I also felt that for me, a first time K mom, it was a good transition from play/preschool to "real" school.

Megan will be doing morning K, but it's only because I started working at CRPS and work in the mornings. Made no financial sense to have her in school while I was at home (although I will miss that time for myself!). But, as I learned with Sarah, the year goes by SO FAST, so I will make sure to enjoy my "last" time with her in the afternoons. Because next year, they'll both be full time and that one on one time will be harder and harder to fit in.

Cali Lovett said...

Thank you, Amy, for this advice. I needed someone to say that to me. You're right - it probably will be our last alone time pretty much ever - in a structured way like that. And, you know, I've been sad ever since Clark was born that Frances and I lost our alone time. Interestingly, I've had plenty with Clark because he was still with me when Frances started school. And she's always attended more days than he. So this is it - this is our time! Thank you for reminding me to treasure it.