I sent my 5 year old off to Kindergarten with conflicted emotions. Today will be the start of me being separated from my son for the longest period. Five days a week, six and a half hours a day. For five years I have come to regard him as my sidekick. He was almost always at my side. Almost inseparable so much so that when people I know spot me walking on the streets without him, the first thing they would ask was “where’s Evan?”.
With Kindergarten, we have turned a corner – there is no going back to how it was before. After Kindergarten it will be grade school, longer hours for middle school…high school. Then for college there’s a strong possibility he might be moving out too. And it will be very unusual that he will want to spend his summer days with us old folks. That would just be plain unnatural.
While I admit I did think that his preschool hours of half day three times a week was not enough time for me to do anything productive, however I thought it’d be more ideal if kindergarten was just only 3x a week not 5. You know, to ease it gently for sentimental parents like me.
But as Tom would say, it is great that we get 6 hours of “daycare” for free. When I go back to my freelancing the day after tomorrow I will be getting more for my money and will pay the babysitter just 2.5 to 3 hours instead of the 5-9 hours last summer.
I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was “sentimentalizing”, remembering the baby Evan was, hoping I wouldn’t cry the morning I send him off, wondering where his Spiderman lunch bag was, worrying about the babysitter arrangement for the winter. But this morning everything went smoothly. Evan was so hyped up that 5 minutes into the school playground waiting for the bell to ring he already had grass stains at the back of his brand new shirt from running around. He confessed to being a little shy but was quite nonchalant in entering the school building and leaving me behind. We even forgot our usual hug and many kisses because I was too busy taking pictures.
There was a welcome PTA coffee and bagels (courtesy of Starbucks and Einstein Brothers Bagels), which was packed and I was glad I attended because I chatted with another mom whom I’ve met a couple of times before, whose son goes to the same class as Evan and they live just a block of us. Turns out she is available to pick-up and babysit Evan on days I go to work. So that’s a big load off my shoulders. It pays to mingle.What makes this arrangement more appealing is that this neighbor and her son speaks spanish which means Evan will be able to practice his spanish in their house while waiting for me.
You see, last March we received the good news of Evan making it into the spanish immersion class in his school. So starting from Kindergarten to 5th grade the medium of instruction will be spanish, except for reading. The spanish instruction will start out at 90% in the lower grades and gradually become 50% when they reach 5th grade. Half of the kids in the class are english speaking, the other half are spanish speaking.
This was implemented 11 years ago in our school and the program is very popular among caucasian (english speaking) parents. I even met two parents who moved into our neighborhood wishing to avail of this (one is a manager at Google). Another mom told me that she knows of 14 parents who were upset about not getting in the spanish immersion. The seats are limited; student get in by lottery or by ethnicity. The latter is the reason why I think Evan had the advantage because there were hardly any asians in his batch of kindergarteners.
I am very psyched. I have not met a parent with kid/s in the immersion who aren’t very happy with how their children are doing. Evan is excited about it too, on our way to school this morning he was already practicing his “uno, dos, tres etc”. It will be very interesting to see how he will be doing at the end of the school year.
All in all, the first day wasn’t too bad. Evan was clearly exhausted when I picked him up but he says he likes his school and had fun. This mommy had fun too. Although it felt strange walking downtown without Evan at my side, I got over it quickly as I went inside the moviehouse and saw “One Day”, a film I wanted to go see but couldn’t before because I didn’t have anybody to watch Evan for free.