Thursday, September 15, 2005

A bonanza, a trove, yea verily a wealth of photos

But first a thousand words...

Actually, another thousand words. I had this post just about ready to go yesterday when the power went out. I had saved the uploaded photos, but not the yards and yards of text. Bad words were uttered.

Anyway, now I'm using the less sexy but more secure method of writing into a blank E-mail and saving it from time to time instead of composing straight into the browser window that can only save if I'm online, and only then by going through several links & slow stuff.

So. Julia has been warming up to the idea of going to "Robin's school" and I have been realizing that we really should get her going pretty soon, since the remainder of this semester will be her only chance to be in the same class as Robin. I had been telling Flor (the principal and one of the kindergarten teachers) that I was hoping to have Julia start soon, and that she was beginning to seem more interested.

Today is Costa Rica's Independence Day and there is no school today or tomorrow. I thought a short week--with special activities to boot--would be a good time to have her start, so last weekend we talked about it a bit while Robin--and her enthusiastic but often pushy commentary--was at Yolanda's house. Julia was agreeable, and proudly got ready for school with Robin on Monday morning.

She marched in with us and I told Flor that Julia would like to know if she could start today. Of course she said of course, and all of a sudden Julia realized the implications of that and promptly freaked the hell out.

I stayed with her for about an hour, but she really didn't calm down much. The flag and national anthem business at the beginning of the day was extra long this week because each group was rehearsing their song/recitation/etc. Eventually I checked with Flor and took Julia inside so she could play with some of the materials around the room, which she has always longed after but been told (by me) are for "children who go to Robin's school."

Finally the kids came in and sat in a circle, whereupon I discovered that me being there had thrown Robin straight back to the teary "how COULD you leave me here" stage. She, along with some of the other older children, was dispatched upstairs for English class. Julia paid minimal attention to what the children were doing in the circle, occasionally making a slight attempt to join in but mostly scooting here and there and demanding to be TAKEN HOME NOW.

When the circle time was over and the other kids had been sent to choose their activities I asked Flor for her advice: Take her home? Leave her there? Stay with her? I was told the same as with Robin: the child will always choose to go home, but it's not really their choice to make. Once the option is no longer there, they can get on with adjusting to being there.

Oh yeah. Damn. Sucked into it AGAIN.

So I left. Robin was back down from English and had to be pried, finger by finger, off my shirt and physically taken across the room. Then Julia was handed off, kicking and screaming and I left.

They didn't see me right away when I came back to pick them up, and of course they were both just fine, participating in the group activity. Julia said she had had a great time and Flor said she had cried for a while, then joined in.

The next morning, Julia started out with a good attitude--she's a morning person, and almost invariably bright and chipper from about 5:30 on. She announced that she would go to school for one more day, but then changed her tune as it approached time to go and said she was NOT going. I had to pretty much place her in the car, where she declared that when we got there she was NOT going to take off her seatbelt. And indeed she didn't. Fortunately, most of her protests were verbal; a really determined child could make things very difficult for an adult from a car seat in the back of a two-door car.

I carried her in (fortunately Robin was back to normal), pried her off of me, handed her off to Flor, left her screaming and then had four hours to ponder the psychological damage I was inflicting on my child.

Then I went back to pick her up and learned:

From Flor: That Julia had cried for about as long as it took her to cross the room and find something to do
From Julia: That she had "MANY new friends"
And from a note to parents: That children "may wear traditional costumes" for the Independence Day activities the next day.

Robin has a store-bought variation on the traditional dress from last year. Does Julia have anything even resembling a traditional dress? Not so much. Is there time to borrow one from a cousin? Not so much. Buy one? Not really. Make one? Yes, as it turns out, although I didn't tell her what I was doing, in case it didn't work out. Fortunately, the traditional costume is relatively simple. Ideally, it's a satiny three-tiered skirt in bright solid colors and a white blouse with rickrack around the large circular yoke. I didn't bother with the blouse; she has a plain white blouse that would do fine. And, much to my surprise, I actually found solid red, white and blue fabrics in my stash. Not satiny of course, but just the right shades.

I did all the thinking and measuring and a little bit of Internet searching in the afternoon, and made the skirt after dinner. It took three hours and came out quite well.

So the morning went well. The girls were excited about their dresses and the "parade" they would be in (the kindergarten class does a circuit of the park a block away). Julia got extra big-girl points because I took her car seat out and let her use a regular seatbelt so her new skirt wouldn't get all bunched up. Not sure if I'll leave it like that or not; Costa Rican law calls for carseats up to four years old, so she's legal, but of course the seat is safer. Robin has been using a regular seatbelt for a few months now.

I stopped on the way down the hill and got the girls each a paper flag to carry, which went over well. No fuss getting out of the car. No fuss going into the school. No fuss at all. Julia's comment: "Today I don't miss you mommy." And that was it. I went back to the car to get the camera and took a couple of pictures, then headed out to the park to wait for the kids to come out. I had asked Flor about it and she said it might be better not to (for Julia's sake) if it was going to set her off again, but I was pretty optimistic. I got myself a coffee and a danish thing, then picked up Yolanda and we got back to the school a few minutes before they came out.

When Julia saw me she started to get weepy and wanted me to hold her hand, but then she snapped out of it and enjoyed being part of such an important event. There were about 30 kids and maybe 10 parents or so, following along and taking pictures. They stopped in the park and lined up all the kids on a bench for additional pictures and to sing the national anthem, then marched back to the school and went inside. Both girls had a good time and went right back in without protest. Julia didn't actually seem aware that we weren't following - she just followed everyone in and didn't look back. One other little girl started to cry when she realized her mother wasn't coming in with her, but Julia was out of sight by then, so if she had a moment of doubt we didn't know about it.

And that's the end of the story. Here are the pictures of the kindergarten section of the school, and then of the girls and the parade:


Lisa September 16, 2005 7:30 PM  

Mind you, I want desperately to send off witty and wonderful comments to your each and every post. But waiting until I come up with a great comment often ends up in no comment at all.

I'm not sure why, especially considering the ethnic garb, but Robin looks especially Tucker in photo #12. And I guess I've officially lost my youth, because all I can think of picture #4 is that must be hard on the knees AND the feet. Julia looks so different in such a long skirt. Gown, even.

Dot September 17, 2005 8:13 AM  

I really loved the commentary and the pictures. Oh, your girls are growing up so fast and isn't that hard on a parent? Even when they are older. I think you must be a great mother.

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