Friday, October 03, 2008

Decisiones graves y abrazos tiernos

Tuesday morning we got a call from the local Spanish immersion elementary school. We'd put S-Boogie's name on a waiting list because we moved here too late to get her registered, but we didn't expect anything to come of that. As it turns out, something did. On Tuesday they offered her a spot available immediately and wanted a response, well, immediately. I was out at the DMV at the time so FoxyJ told them she'd call back in the afternoon after talking to me. Then she asked S-Boogie what she thought of changing schools and S-Boogie burst into tears.

I felt pretty horrible when Foxy told me. Here we've already moved the poor girl to a different state and made her leave all her friends behind, and then a month into kindergarten when she's just starting to feel comfortable with her new friends, we yank her out and throw her in with another bunch of strangers, where the teacher won't even be speaking English. On top of that, the new kindergarten is a morning class and we really really liked the afternoon schedule we've had. At the same time, though, we've been saying for years that we'd like to get her in a Spanish immersion program and as bad as it is to transfer after a month of kindergarten, it would only be worse to transfer after a year.

So we decided to do it. Today was S-Boogie's last day at her old school and Monday will be the first at the new one. She's spent the past few days alternating between excitement and anxiety about the change. This morning she was particularly stressed and grumpy, no doubt because she knew it would be her last day, and I was no help at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. I know this may come as a shock, but apparently getting stressed because your child is stressed and then yelling at her to stop crying isn't actually a good parenting technique.

The thing that's been bothering me all week is that I remember kindergarten. We are no longer in the realm of parenting mistakes like letting a toddler watch too much TV, which we all know will have negative effects, but really who's to say it's my fault Junior has an IQ of 64? No, we're at the point now where forcing our daughter to switch schools a month into the school year could potentially ruin her life and she will resent us forever because of it. Her earliest experiences and memories of school--those that will shape the course of the next twenty years of her life for better or worse--hinge on a single phone call. (And boy am I glad it wasn't me who made that phone call and told the secretary "yes.") The power in our hands to positively or negatively affect the life of this little person we love so much, coupled with the ignorance of what will ultimately have positive effects and what will have negative effects, is rather terrifying.

Later today, after Foxy helped S-Boogie calm down and she had a nice last day at the old school and I spent several hours hating myself for being so utterly incompetent as a parent and reassuring S-Boogie several times that it's okay to cry when you're sad and that I'm sorry she feels sad, she somewhat randomly hugged me and told me, "I like it when you give me hugs because that's how I know you love me." I hope to... Whoever that somehow that will be enough.

6 comments:

Scot said...

I think most parents can sympathize.

"The thing that's been bothering me all week is that I remember kindergarten. We are no longer in the realm of parenting mistakes..."

This has occurred to me too. Now if we make parenting mistake it goes down on our permanent record in that little mind. They'll forget the day we lost a favorite binkey, but one slip now and they could remember it forever.

I imagine it's a lot like going from being a normal citizen to a constant parolee.

Dichotomy said...

Our kids are 12, 11, 7 and 3. I know we've made some mistakes and done some things that have made the kids unhappy, but so far the older ones have never (to my recollection) dredged up past transgressions and thrown them in our faces.

That may change as they enter the teenage years and start looking for heavy artillery...

Julie said...

If it makes you feel any better, I don't remember kindergarten. In fact, I don't have much in the way of school memories till second grade.

Mr. Fob said...

I imagine it's a lot like going from being a normal citizen to a constant parolee.

Except without the satisfaction of having committed any crime.

That may change as they enter the teenage years and start looking for heavy artillery...

Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of. At least it's still a few years off for me.

In fact, I don't have much in the way of school memories till second grade.

Perhaps you've blocked out the trauma of being transferred to another kindergarten a month into the school year?

Chad Too said...

My son has been in an immersion school since Kindergarten and wouldn't have it any other way. Not only does he have a second language in his pocket, but his world view is so broad; the natural side effect of being at a school where six languages are taught.

Mr. Fob said...

Thanks, Chad. S-Boogie has been in the new school for a week and a half now and seems to be enjoying herself. I hope in the long run this has the same positive effects on her as it has on your son.