My son has had so many firsts in his short life, it hardly seems fair. He was born in California and when he was almost two we moved to Atlanta for only two short years before moving to London. He had his first day of preschool in Atlanta and now his first day of kindergarten here in London. Surprisingly, he is the one that sails through all these beginnings and I am the one biting my nails and nervously on the lookout for any signs that he’s not adjusting.
In Atlanta, the first week of his preschool there, my son was sent home because he couldn’t “blow and throw.” It was that school’s policy that three-year-olds should be able to successfully blow their noses and then throw the tissues into a trashcan or be sent home after several poor attempts. I was a bit irritated as many of you might imagine.
This situation created “a first,” for me: insisting to a school director that their policies need to be changed. (I imagine it may not be my last confrontation with a school director.) It was my son’s first time, however, to tell me: “It’s okay mommy.”
You can see who is the more uptight between us.
In London we enrolled our son into an international school as we want him to embrace this time in Europe. And since his father, aunt, two uncles, a few cousins and grandmother all speak other languages fluently, we thought it would be good for him. (You notice I’m not listed here, I’m working on it!)
I was still a bit worried about how my son would adjust as in London they start kindergarten, or “reception,” a year earlier than they do in the States. So not only would my son have to make all new friends, he’d also be spending an entire day, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at school.
At the end of his first day, I was fifteen minutes early, waiting at the back door with a host of moms who clearly knew each other and were chatting happily. I recognized Italian, Portuguese, and something Slavic being spoken, but since I don’t speak the languages, could only smile and nod and wring my hands as I waited.
After the door opened, William’s teacher, a lovely Japanese woman, opens the door and tells me he had a “great day,” obviously recognizing the angst in my face. My son then burst threw, throwing his lunch box at me while saying:
“I made a new friend today mommy!”
“Yes, he’s right over there: ‘Hi Michal!’” William yells while skipping away and then stops to wave at another child who screamed ‘Hi William!’ from the window of a school bus.
I was starting to feel better already.
“Where’s Michal from?” I ask.
“You’re never going to believe this. He’s part Polish and part Dust!” William says seriously.
I start giggling. “Is that right? Dust. Are you sure?”
“YES Mommy,” he says with a bit of exasperation that I imagine I’ll hear quite a bit during conversations in his teen years. “The Dust are from Holland, didn’t you know?”
As we walked home through our garden in Notting Hill, William tells me all about his little ‘Dust’ friend and how much fun they are going to have together tomorrow playing Power Rangers—a universal force apparently appealing to boys everywhere.
I feel certain that he is having a roaring start to his new international life. Now if only I could enroll in a French class with such enthusiasm!