Clara Anne has had three days of kindergarten now and is doing quite well! We're proud of our big girl!
The second day she was fine on the walk there, right up until the door, but then got scared and didn't want to go in the classroom. One of her teachers was right there to help her but she cried, begging and pleading for me to stay with her. Oh, the tugs at a mother's heart! After a few minutes of totally unsuccessful reasoning with her ("Remember, Clara Anne, how much fun you had on Wednesday! And Mommy will come back to get you before lunch! And aren't you a big girl now that you go to kindergarten!") that then turned into commands ("Clara Anne, stop crying now. You are going to be just fine. Take the teacher's hand and go into your classroom") that turned into the hasty goodbye (Ok! Have a great morning! I'll be back soon!") I beat a retreat around the corner and then watched to see how things developed. Her teacher held her until they got into the room and she stopped crying fairly quickly, then as I made my way down the stairs and out the door I peeked up and saw the teacher still holding Clara Anne's hand and talking with her. I went home, praying all the while that she would calm down and be able to participate. It's hard, but at this point we feel this is the best decision for her and she will get accustomed to it over time. When I arrived to pick her up before lunch she skipped to the door and brightly said, "Mommy, the teacher cheered me up!" So she had a good morning.
This scene was basically repeated on Monday, except that I left sooner and the teacher said she calmed down sooner. It's the moment of good-bye that is hard; up until that point perhaps Clara Anne thinks there is a chance that she'll be granted a reprieve! But then, she has a fun time and enjoys the activities and so it all works out. The teachers said she is a bit shy to join in on things at first, but then when she sees other kids doing things, she wants to do them too. I hope she will only grow more willing as time goes on.
The whole "kindergarten" culture is interesting in this country. Many of these children have been in "kindergarten" since they were 3 months old and their mommies needed to go back to work. Others started around 2 years of age, having been mostly taken care of by grandpa and grandma until then, since probably 90-95% of moms work outside the home. (That's my own very unofficial estimation.)
Take our neighbors, for example. I mentioned in a previous post that our neighbor and her son went with us the first day we went to check out the kindergarten. Lou shared with me today that when our neighbor had her son, she had the usual three months off and then grandpa and grandma took over his care while she went back to work. Then at three years old, the son started attending kindergarten full time and so has been there for the last three years. Various kindergartens have various specialties and the main focus of the one we're at is teaching Asianese, so our neighbor boy can now read fairly fluently, even can read a newspaper (I can't even do that!), though I'm sure he doesn't understand it all, being only six years old, after all.
But now, since my neighbor and her husband are both so busy with work, they put their son in a boarding school for primary school students. Can you believe that?! He is six years old! And boarding away--they will only go to get him on the weekends! So his parents, particularly his mother, have truly had very little influence on his life. Almost his entire life he has been primarily under the care of others. I wanted to weep when I heard this; it is so vastly different from what I believe God's design for the family looks like. Granted, I don't understand my neighbor's situation fully or what has happened in their family for them to choose this for their son, but I am sad for them that they think this is the best thing for their child. I am sad for this country that there are even boarding schools that exist for six year olds!
Tomorrow night our neighbor and her husband are coming over for dinner. They have expressed some interest in Things that we are also interested in, and we want to talk with them more. If you think of it, remember us! Their son, obviously, will not be joining us. But there are issues that are even more important than sending their son to boarding school, and we hope to talk about some of them tomorrow. Lou is going to stay and cook for us all, so it's really a great opportunity for me to focus on our guests. I'll try to give an update in a few days!