Last week it was all about getting the kids started at school and kindy respectively.
We’d originally planned to keep both of them home for the first month or two after moving, but Finn loved his first term at Totara School so much we felt it would be less disruptive for him if he started straight into Wanaka Primary at the start of Term 2 in May.
We visited the school for the first time during the school holidays, where Finn pronounced the quality of playground satisfactory.
In the event, Finn absolutely crushed it – although his mum was pretty shit. The night before he started I decided I’d better read the enrolment pack, which was when I realised uniforms are compulsory and stationery highly recommended. I was so worried about being expelled for indifference to stationery, I couldn’t sleep.
Finn was shaky on the morning, but his teacher was lovely and the school is amazingly well equipped. As we were shown around Finn’s interest levels picked up to the point where every time his teacher addressed him he had to give a little jump of excitement.
There was a clang of potential doom when the teacher showed him the tadpole tank and Finn said, “Dey grow into FROGS!” and she responded, “Er, yes; actually they already did, but I forgot to put rocks in over the Easter holidays and they DIED. Here, you can look at the dead frogs through this magnifying glass if you like?”
Finn took it in stride, although he demurred looking at the dead frogs.
When the bell rang, he settled down on the welcome mat without a backward glance.
Later that morning I procured a stationery pack and dropped it back to school; along with his lunchbox and water bottle which I’d forgotten to stuff in his schoolbag earlier. Guess my Outstanding Mother Award is postponed another week.
Bless him; Finn is absolutely shattered and on several occasions over the last week, I’ve wondered whether he needs a good exorcising: by early evening he is demonstrably demonic. However, he is doing incredibly well now that he has a school uniform and full agglomeration of stationery.
Saoirse took longer to get sorted. About six months previously, she and Finn attended a kindy in Wanaka on a short-term basis, and something about it just didn’t click.
At another place I was so distracted by the administrator’s saggy red pleather trousers, I spent the entire time wondering whether there was any way I could appropriately pull them the fuck up on her.
Yet another kindy was promising until I clocked the 3yo with dreadlocks and it was all over, rover.
I had been keen on the Montessori school before we actually visited. Don’t get me wrong; it was lovely: all underfloor heated wooden floors and natural eco-sustainable toys – but one thing I learned at the North Otago Toy Library is that although the parents love the natural wooden toys, the kids always choose plastic. And while children shouldn’t necessarily always get what they want, if the objective is stimulating play, the best option is probably the garish plastic abomination that is the distilled antithesis of all that is pure and beautiful in this world.
We visited at snack time and I’d never seen an assembly of such perfectly mannered children – but it struck me that Saoirse would just eat them alive. And when I realised that despite my best efforts, I STILL can’t explain the Montessori ideology, I thought we’d better look into the last option available.
I’d been starting to get a bit desperate wondering how to go about weighing gut reaction, so it was a relief when The Last Option felt so right. The ECEs were gorgeous and welcoming and friendly; I loved the way they interacted with the kids; the vibe was kind and unassuming; the playground was entirely constructed of old tires and offcuts of wood that the kids can reconfigure as they please; and – most importantly – Saoirse loved it as well.
(Although admittedly she loved all the other kindies too.)
She started the following day: walked into the place as if she owned it, picked out a book and demanded of some random adult that they read it to her. Like Finn, she appears to have decided goodbyes are superfluous.
My kids have taught me a bit about holding shit together in the last week