Saturday, August 25, 2012

Revival: First Day of School

Max and Zora have been little balls of anxiety lately. The start of a new school in a new city has them stressed like only a 4 and 7 year old can be. The fact that they homeschooled last year means they've never been in a formal, Dominican classroom. Until now.
In a desperate attempt to comfort my children, I sent out a siren call to family and a few close friends of my offspring. Living far from all those lovely people is tough, but we really are very fortunate to have so many tools at our fingertips which bring us together at any given moment of the day or night. Case in point: last night Max read aloud a chapter of the current book he's reading to his grandparents in Washington. So sweet.
The messages and videos they received in response were ever-so-helpful (Thank you to all!). Max started school this week and Zora starts this Monday. I hope Josh will muster the desire to write about finding the schools and the process of getting them registered. To give you an idea, I have a list of adjectives/verbs that come to mind when thinking of all that loving man had to do: wait, frustrate, inane, insane, jabber, blabber, and bureaucracy. That last word falls hard in the list because that's how it fell on Josh too.
Waffle breakfast for the first day. Mandatory.
Max made up a song for his hermana, attempting to wake her to say goodbye.

"I'm nervous and excited and adorable in my school uniform."
I have about 14 of these photos. Boy loves to make faces, but I'll spare you.
My first trip to Max's school was on his first day of school. We left Zora sleeping at home with our lovely and talented house guest and the three of us walked to school. Bless.

We were met with chaos upon arrival, as was expected. We waited in the school's courtyard as Max desperately clung to Josh and I. Don't leave! Can't you stay the whole day?

Nervous Max

We stayed. First surprised by the placing of Back-to-School decor as children ran wild, we then noticed that there was not a single teacher supervising. And yet, the students were behaving themselves for the most part.

A yellow school bus full of pasty-looking kids. School bus?
An hour after appointed start time, all the students lined up in their respective grades
to listen to a speech by the principal and sing the national anthem.

As the principal waxed on, microphone in hand, we patiently waited. Then he caught sight of us (we kind of stand out in a crowd). "Good morning!" he called out to us from his elevated perch, interrupting his own speech. He turned to the crowd, "This is my American friend, Joshua. We spent a great deal of time together." He chuckled. This was true. Josh waved to the crowd. "And this is..." the principal paused and turned again to Josh, "This is your wife, yes?" I smiled and waved in kind. Then he started to chit-chat with me while everyone waited. "You're American as well?" he asked.
"Yes, I am," I smiled hoping it would end there. Someone behind me interrupted at that point, "We're all Americans here! Isn't that right?" and he turned to Josh for confirmation. Josh gave him an affirmative gesture while the principal continued without recognition of the comment.
"What is your name?" he asked me.
"Ah, I see. Your parents aren't Latino?" he looked at me quizzically.
"No," I was trying to find the balance between keeping the conversation short in respect for the waiting crowd, while still being polite to the principal.
"Huh," he thought. "But they are very religious people, aren't they?"
I wasn't sure what he was after here, so I just nodded.
He turned again to the crowd, "Rebecca has a very special place in the Bible." He smiled at me and then addressed the crowd again, "Joshua does as well." Then he motioned for everyone to applaud, which they did with the enthusiasm of the first day of school. Awkward, but a necessary part of those everyday interactions we have with people here. They take us out of our comfort zone just enough to allow us different perspectives and ways of doing any given task. This is our new normal. We were able to slip out after this as Max marched upstairs to his classroom with his new classmates.

*   *   *

Max is now a second-grader. He attends a school called Renacimiento, meaning revival or rebirth and loves it. As far as I can tell, he plays tag with his friends, copies stuff from the board, sings the alphabet a lot (is that weird to you for a 2nd grader to focus on so much?) and enjoys sharing snacks with his pals at break time. Josh thinks its hilarious that Max constantly practices the alphabet at school, then comes home to read chapter books.
School supposedly starts at 7:45, though this whole week its been 8:30 and ends at 1 pm, though has been 11 am all week. I'm hoping that's just a first-week-of-school thing and not a lasting trend, but you never know. Friday, all classes were canceled due to Hurricane Isaac (snow day in the Caribbean). The rain is coming down in buckets (perhaps barrels) as I type. Josh said he thinks that it rained so much yesterday that it surpassed the yearly rainfall of Toppenish. I bet he's right.
Wish us luck on Monday as we ready and send off both of our babies to school.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds very similar to my first day of school. The timings too. :-)