Lanternfest . . . or not

515I’ve often said that of all the new traditions we’ve discovered in Vienna, Lanternfest is my favorite.  I love watching the kids with their homemade lanterns out in the autumn evening, I love their songs, I love the story of St. Martin and the moral of charity and kindness.  I’m a fan.  Benjamin got to do Lanternfest all 3 years he was in preschool, and last year the boys got to do it together (which I particularly loved).

Because it happens in the dark, it can be tough to see — especially for the kids, who are holding lanterns, it’s hard for them to pick out the faces of their parents beyond the glow of their own lanterns.  So, even though the school practices for a few weeks leading up to it (but only in the daytime), there are always a few of the little ones who dissolve into tears once the parade and singing start.

518It happened to Benjamin his first year — he got freaked out by not being able to find us in the dark.  One of his teachers brought him to us (because, in the dark, it was equally impossible for us to tell that he was the one who was upset) and he was able to finish up the performance, just holding my hand.  After that first year, he was fine.

With Liam, we were lucky, since he had the advantage of having seen the whole thing several times by the time it was his turn to do it.  He was finally getting his wish and was up there with the “big kids”, so he was more excited than worried!  Besides, Benjamin was participating too, so he wasn’t there alone (not that any of them is there alone — there are 60+ kids at the school, plus teachers and parents, but a lot of the kids still experience it as being “alone”).  He did great last year.

527So this year, our collective fourth Lanternfest, and Liam’s second as a participant, we expected smooth sailing.  B was a little sad to not be involved, so we dug out his old lantern from last year and he brought that along to hold while he watched.  We took Liam to his class, dropped him off with his teacher and went to find a good spot to watch the show.

Liam didn’t make it to the show, though.  For reasons I don’t entirely understand, Liam freaked out before it was even time for the kids to line up.  He was so upset that his teachers simply brought him out to us, where we were waiting in the dark.  He was too freaked out to participate.  Last year, we dropped Benjamin off first, so he was unfazed by us dropping him at his class.  This year, I guess the thought of us leaving him inside while we all went out just worried or upset him.  I offered to walk with him, or to stand by him.  I tried (repeatedly) to convince him to rejoin his class.  I reminded him of how much he’d been 551looking forward to it and how much he’d enjoyed it the year before.  He declined.  I was surprised, but he was firm.  So, rather than walking and singing with his lantern, Liam stood with us and watched.

For the second part, where the kids and parents go on a stroll around the block, he was happy to join in.  We all took a walk together and shared a kipferl (kind of a hard croissant) at the end, as is traditional.  Liam was clingy, but happy.  Benjamin was wistful, but also happy.  It was another good Lanternfest, and I’ve officially decided to quit thinking that I have any idea of how these things are going to go from one year to the next.


Celebrating at school


029Though it can be a bit hard to tell now (most days he hovers between being vaguely lukewarm and basically unenthusiastic about going to school), there were a lot of things Liam really looked forward to about starting school and getting to be just like Benjamin — field trips, Lanternenfest, playing in the garden.  But none was so eagerly anticipated as celebrating his birthday at school (and yes, I’m still writing about stuff that happened back in September — I’ll catch up eventually).

Last year, which was his first year at school, he had a great time at his school birthday party, but having a September birthday, and being one of the first to celebrate, I think it was a bit overwhelming for him.  I think he was a little uncomfortable with having the attention of his entire class focused on him.  This year, though, he was ready.  He knew it was coming, and he was really looking forward to it.

031The way things work at the school (with parent involvement being limited to a few particular events each year), I don’t get to be there.  (Since not every parent would be able to come to celebrate their child’s birthday, no parents are allowed to come.  “It wouldn’t be fair.”  Which is a bummer for me — getting to help out at the boys’ schools was one of the parts of being a stay at home mom that I most looked forward to).  But, based on his stories, and on the pictures, he really enjoyed himself.  He got to blow out the candles, have cake, be sung to by his whole class, and open up a few gifts.  One, a stuffed dolphin, was a gift from his teachers, while a few others, containing puzzles, were from us and destined to remain at school, rather than come home with him.  (So he didn’t get to KEEP those, just OPEN them, which he wasn’t 100% on board with.)

643Generally, though he was so happy.  He was so excited that morning that it was his big day to celebrate at school, and he was so pleased when I picked him up.  As with the key chain his teacher made for him last year, he absolutely treasures his new dolphin.  He spent days afterwards cuddling with it and singing to it.  He was a very happy birthday boy, and he loved getting to celebrate at school.  Nothing really says, “I’m so big” like celebrating a birthday at school.  My little guy is getting to be so grown up.

Back to school night . . . sort of

One thing is certainly true about B’s new school — they keep us parents pretty busy! School started less than 2 weeks ago and so far we’ve had orientation (with the kids), the first day of school, a curriculum meeting, a PTA coffee and then, last night, a parent orientation meeting (which was more or less at “back to school night” . . . except that I think they’re doing another “back to school night” type of event later in the month, too).  I made a comment to another mom at the PTA coffee on Tuesday that they keep us parents very busy at the beginning of the year, and she responded that it’s actually going to be like this all year.  Whew.

But, I don’t mind.  I’m happy and excited to be involved, and to start to feel like I’m able understand a bit of what school is like for B.  (Much as I like the boys’ preschool, both the language barrier and the fact that they are the complete opposite when it comes to involving parents have made it hard to feel really connected to what goes on there each day.)

Last night was great.  We met in the classroom with B’s teacher and the parents of his classmates.  We got a chance to learn about their daily schedule, about the school’s and the teacher’s philosophies, and about how things have been going so far (very well, apparently).  We also got to meet and chat with some of the other parents — it’s very nice to start to get to know the parents of the kids B has started to make friends with.

Basically, we love it.  We love the school, and we love B’s teacher.  I love the way the kids are expected to be at different levels, and the way the teacher plans to work with each of them to improve their skills from their current point.  I love the way the day is structured, with focused learning mixed in with group work, circle time and play time.  I love his teacher’s positive approach to behavior and discipline.  And I love, love, LOVE the enthusiasm she has for teaching the kids — even just a few days into the year, she seems to be so genuinely fond of all the kids in the class.  I couldn’t have asked for a better place for B to start his “real” school career, and I couldn’t imagine an environment I’d be more comfortable with.  I feel like all of my concerns and worries about B being ready for 1st grade have pretty much been shown to be unfounded — not just because he’s doing so well already, but because the school and his class really are set up in such a beneficial manner.  I am just so happy.

And then there’s the other stuff we learned.  It turns out that not only is B the only American kid in his class (though two of the other kids have lived in the US for a while), but he’s the only native English speaker in his class.  The school has over 100 nationalities represented, and something like 70+ native languages (I’d struggle to even NAME 70 languages).  Watching a slide show the teacher had prepared before the meeting got started, I felt like every single picture looked like a Benetton ad, or at least like the obligatory picture all school brochures include to show how diverse the population is.  It wasn’t until a picture of B popped up in the slide show that we realized that ALL of the pictures we were looking at had been taken in B’s class during these first 10 days of school — that’s just what his class looks like.

I was also thrilled to find out that I’m able to come in and volunteer in B’s class.  I’m going to be coming in once a week to help out.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to be doing, but I’m so excited to get to help and participate.  In my imaginings of my kids’ school days, I’d always pictured myself helping out in the classroom, and I was disappointed when I wasn’t able to be more involved in their preschool.  So to get that chance now is just beyond exciting for me.

I’m completely won over.  This school seems like just the right place for him, and I am so excited for him to have this opportunity.  If I sound like I’m bragging, I don’t mean to be.  I’m just excited, and so very grateful to see how things are unfolding.  I feel like this is the best school we could have chosen for him, and I think he might have gotten the good fortune of ending up with the best teacher possible for him, too.

How we got here

photo8B’s first week and a half of school has gone amazingly well.  Liam’s first few days have gone without a hitch, as well.  Happy boys.  They like their schools, they like their teachers, they are (reasonably) enthusiastic about getting up and out the door each morning.  I don’t entirely trust it, and I keep waiting for the good feelings to fade (and it’s only the second week, so they still might), but so far, the boys have been happy about being back at school.  And I am happy to see them happy.  Life is good.

After dropping Liam off at preschool the other day, I was standing on the corner, waiting for the bus as I have done so many mornings over the past 3 years.  And I was thinking about this — wondering why I so expect things to be different, and why they are, instead, going so well.

And I think it comes down to this — we paid that price already.  All of those months, in the early days of preschool, when B struggled.  The days that he cried.  The days that I cried.  The days that I stood on the corner across the street from the school and spent long minutes convincing myself NOT to go back in and retrieve my kids.  The times that I almost, almost, ALMOST gave up on it ever getting better.

THIS is why we did all of that.  It might not be inevitable for all children, but for mine, and for me, going through that struggle probably was.  It was always going to be hard for us.  B is sensitive.  I’m sensitive and controlling.  Liam wants to be with us.  So, learning how to NOT let those tendencies get in the way of school was going to be hard.  And it was.  It was so hard, and I questioned and doubted it so many times.  I wondered if I was harming my kids, or if I was a terrible mom.  I wondered if preschool was worth all of that trouble, or if we’d end up regretting the deep emotional trauma I imagined was being inflicted on my kids.

I remember saying to myself, more than once, “If it’s like this again tomorrow, I won’t make him go back”, or, “If it gets any worse than this, I’ll keep him home”.  But it was always a little better the next day, or he came home with some story of what a great time he’d had.  There were best friends and lantern fests and St. Nikolaus visits.  And yes, there were also tears and tough days and an emergency room visit.

But if I could go back, I would tell myself, standing on that corner, “Just wait.  I know that this is hard, but it IS worth it.”  Because I believe that the price we paid, the struggle we endured, has made it possible for B to start first grade at a new school without missing a beat, and for Liam to start this school year, without having B there with him, without any sadness.  And when I see where we are now, I’m so glad we stuck with it.

Liam’s first day

photo 1Last week, B started first grade at his new school.  Yesterday, Liam had his first day of school for the year, too.  Liam is back at the same preschool (Kindergarten) this year, the same school that B also attended for 3 years.

Last week was a nice transition into the hectic new school year (more hectic than ever for us, because we’ve never had to take the kids to two different schools each morning).  Last week, B was in school, but Liam was home with me.  So, we were able to adjust to B’s new school’s schedule, get in the habit of bringing gym clothes on Monday, packing a snack for him every day and remembering his reading homework.  But, while we did that, Liam and I also got in one last week of trips to the playground and quiet mornings building train tracks.  It was really nice.  (I love having photo 2my boys at home.  One part of me really wishes they were home with me all the time.  I fantasize about home-schooling them, letting them wake up whenever they like, taking our lunch break when it’s relatively convenient, and staying in on rainy days.  But I know that my reasons for doing that would be mostly selfish.  I’d love having them with me every day, but I do really think that this is best for them.  I also realize that my fantasy about what home-schooling would be like is exactly just a fantasy and leaves out all of the actual SCHOOLING and such.)  This week, we’re off to the races, with two drop-offs and two pick-ups in different places and at different times each day.

photo 3But yesterday was Liam’s first day.  He was so excited and so proud.  He was really ready to go to school (and really, really ready to get his Scultüte that he’d been looking forward to since last week).  He was happy to pose for “1st day” pictures (and though he was as bouncy as B was last week, I kept my good spirits the whole time).  I was a little concerned, though, because though he was excited and enthusiastic, I wasn’t entirely sure that it had truly occurred to him that one thing would be really different about this year — this year, B wouldn’t be there with him.

The boys were in different classes at the preschool last year, but they still crossed paths a lot.  They often ran into each other at breakfast, or in the garden at recess time, and very occasionally even got to visit each other in their respective classes.  Now, it would just be Liam at his school, and I wasn’t sure he’d thought of that.

photo 4Regardless, he was excited, and it was time to head off to his first day.  When we got there, I was a little surprised to find that he has a new teacher this year.  This makes 3 teachers for Liam since he started last September, which is a lot.  His first teacher last year was FANTASTIC, but she left last spring for another job closer to her home.  For reasons I will probably never know (part of the downside to the kids being in an entirely German-speaking school is that I’m left completely out of the rumor mill), both of his teachers from last spring seem to no longer be with the school.  So, for Liam, it’s year 2 of preschool, with no Benjamin, and a new teacher.

photo 5He was undaunted.  He was very enthusiastic to put away his things in his same spot as last year, change his shoes, and get into class.  He was a little confused when he greeted his new teacher, but he wasn’t bothered by it — he quickly set about exploring his old classroom and discovering a few new car and truck toys that weren’t there last spring.  He was a happy guy.

I watched him for a bit, and he came back out briefly to show me a new construction truck that he found.  But he wasn’t worried about me or what I was up to, so I left pretty quickly.  According to both him and his teacher, he had a “great” first day.  He seems just as happy as can be, and I’m very glad to find out that I’m missing him much more than he’s missing me.

Home Alone

This morning was Liam’s first day back at school.  I took him to school, and Dan took B, but we were able to ride most of the way together.  Liam and I said goodbye to Dan and B on the train, rode the last bit of the way on the bus, and arrived at school on this rainy morning.  I took him into his class, set up his things, met his new teacher, and said an uneventful goodbye.  I got a text from Dan a few minutes later, saying that B’s school drop off had gone equally well.

And then Dan went to work, and I went home.  I rode home alone on the U-Bahn, which was weird.  I came home to an empty house, which was weird.  It was just me and Bailey in the apartment, and it was so quiet that I put on the tv for some “company”.  (I made the mistake of putting on “The West Wing”.  Aaron Sorkin captivated me right out of most of my morning productivity.)

The house was so quiet, and I had some time to myself.  But, though I often imagine that what I really want in life is some peaceful time to myself, as soon as I had it, all I could do was think about was how long it would be until the kids would come home.

It’s not a bad thing that the kids are in school.  I’m glad they’re learning and playing and being exposed to different situations and different people.  And I know that over the next few months I’ll have the chance to get a lot done, take some time for myself, have coffee with friends, and even take a shower with relative freedom (which I did today, and it was really nice).  I know I’ll remember how to make the most of this time and how best to enjoy it.

But, right now, I mostly just miss them.  I really love having my kids around.  They are my most favorite people.  I WANT them to go to school and learn new stuff and have great experiences.  But, when they’re not here, I just wish they were.

Week one down, week one still to go

Week one of B’s new school — completed.  As I type this, he’s 10 minutes away from the end of the last day of the first week at his new school.  So far, things have gone great.  He’s enjoying his classes, he loves his new teacher, he’s been enthusiastic about eating in the cafeteria and riding the bus home (both new experiences), and he’s had positive interactions with the kids in his class.  He may be in the process of coming down with a cold (or something) but that’s pretty much to be expected the first week at a new school.  Things are going great for him.

And I’m thrilled, too.  I’m also loving his experience at the school so far.  His teacher seems very positive and supportive; he’s already taking gym, art, music and German; he comes home every day excited to tell me about what he’s done; he gets up in the morning enthusiastic to go back (not that I expect that to be true EVERY day, but it seems to be a very positive sign that it’s true already this first week); and he’s impatient to get his library card next week so he can start bringing books home.

Plus, the whole family has done an excellent job this week of adapting to this major change to our schedule — the boys are getting up happily in the morning, early but not TOO early; Liam has adjusted relatively well to having only a brief nap each afternoon; and the boys are going to bed relatively quickly and easily at a slightly earlier hour in the evening.  Dan and I even managed to get everyone fed at a reasonable hour AND do baths every night but one this week.  That’s pretty awesome.

But, of course, next week, everything is going to change again.  Next Monday, Liam goes back to school, and we get to start over again with a whole new “first week”.  That means twice as many drop offs and pick ups, twice as many schedules to manage, and it will mean getting up another half an hour earlier every day (for all of us) which will hopefully mean getting to bed another half an hour earlier every day.  I’m a little intimidated by the change in the schedule (I’ve already gotten used to this one!) and by just how much there will be to manage starting on Monday.  But that pretty much just seems to be life with kids!

That’s ok, though — we’ll get it done.  This time last week, I was dreading the thought of B starting school, and it’s been even better than I’d hoped.  Next week will mean a lot of new stuff around here again, but I’m hopeful that it’ll be another week of positive changes.

The end of the school year . . . and the end of preschool for B

20140627-165102-60662588.jpgYesterday was the last day of school for my boys this year.  For B, it was his last day at this school entirely, and his last day of preschool.  For Liam, it was the last day of his very first year of school.  A big day for both boys!  Actually, a big day for all of us.

Next year, B will move on to elementary school.  He goes right from half-day preschool/kindergarten to full day first grade.  That’s going to be a big change, but he’s excited about it (and, therefore, so am I).  Mostly, I think he is beyond excited that his school next year will be in English and that he’ll be able to express himself really well.  (He’s also looking forward to learning more math.)  Liam will get to come back to his same class and teachers and friends next year . . . which also means we don’t have to completely say goodbye to any of the teachers at the school.  (I already have plans to stop by B’s old class next fall to pick up some pictures.)


20140627-165102-60662064.jpgIt’s been a busy week — lots to fit in before the end of the year.  B’s class celebrated his birthday with him on Tuesday.  I’m so grateful that he got to do that one more time before leaving this school.

And B commemorated the occasion of the end of preschool by losing his first baby tooth the night before his last day.  (Just in case there was any question about how grown up he really is getting to be.)

Now we’re on our summer “vacation”.  (I say “vacation” because summer means having both boys home, which is wonderful, but not exactly restful.)  It has been a long (but very good) preschool journey for B, a great first year for Liam, and a busy week for all of us.  Now it’s time to enjoy the summer!




It began like this.  And, in less than 2 weeks, it will end.  B’s time in preschool (Kindergarten) has taken him from crying, timid and not wanting to participate to happy, enthusiastic, and the best German speaker in our family.  We have had a wonderful experience with his school and teachers, and I will be very sorry to see his time there end.

20140613-090052-32452486.jpgThis week, to celebrate the end of the school year (unofficially — since it’s a preschool, it’s open year-round) and the passage of the Vorschulekinder (preschoolers) on to elementary school, B’s class had a big party.  Each of the graduating kids got to stand up in front of the class and receive a Schultüte — which is a big paper cone full of fun and practical stuff.  In this case, the teachers made and decorated the cones themselves.  Inside, they included sweets and useful things for school next year — new markers, pencils, colored pencils, and a new pencil sharpener.  And then they all went out for ice cream (B had strawberry).

20140613-085942-32382890.jpgB was so proud of his Schultüte, and so proud of himself.  He carried it all the way home, and opened it in complete delight.  (Poor Liam had a little breakdown — it’s so hard to be the little brother, especially when the big brother gets something cool and you don’t.  B shared a little of his candy, but it still was tough.)

But perhaps the best part of the graduation celebration came in a little bunch of paper, loosely and precariously attached together.  In it, the teachers had compiled a scrapbook — of Benjamin’s time at school, of his writing practices and art projects.  There were drawings, painted handprints, and pictures from field trips.  Just regular preschool stuff, but all collected together.  They had been keeping some of these things from the very beginning of his time there.

20140613-090052-32452882.jpgI think teachers are generally amazing.  While I sometimes struggle to manage just my two, the teachers at my boys’ school (and all teachers, everywhere) manage 10 times that many, with a patience and authority I sincerely admire.  They have reinforced polite manners, practiced taking turns, taken them on adventures and kissed their boo-boos.  They’ve helped see us through potty training, introduced our whole family holidays and traditions we’ve never seen before, and taught B an entirely new language.  And they have done it all with a tremendous amount of love.  The book they put together for him was further evidence of that love.  It is an amazing gift.

B will go on next year to elementary school.  But I don’t think he could have been given a better start than he got at this school.  He has been fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers.  I feel lucky that Liam will still be at this school, so we don’t really have to say goodbye quite yet.

Kindergarten or first grade?

We didn’t expect to be here so long.  We thought that by now, we’d be home already, or at least headed home.  Consequently, all of our plans for “real” school for the kids started with “Well, we’ll be home by then …”

When we left the US, our plan was to be in Austria for 1-2 years.  We’ve now been here more than 3, and although we’re psychologically ready to move home, we don’t yet have the opportunity to do so.  Last year, when we were going through the process of deciding whether to stay for this third year, the boys’ educational experience factored heavily.  I liked the idea if B completing preschool (“Kindergarten”, here) with his friends, and I loved the idea of Liam getting to join him at that school for a year.  The fact that this year of preschool, for both boys, would be free to us only heightened its appeal.  Their opportunity for school this past year is a large part of why we’re here now.  It was too good to pass up, and I feel like it was definitely the right decision.  B has really flourished at school this year, found his confidence, become nearly fluent in German and begun to discover which bits of school most ignite his enthusiasm for learning.  Liam has had a fantastic first experience with school, getting to follow in B’s footsteps and hold his hand along the way.

It’s good that we stayed.  I’m glad we did.

But our plan has ALWAYS been to have B home before “real” school started.  This year of school here, called “Vorschule”, is like half-day US kindergarten.  I had hoped to enroll him in full-day kindergarten in the US next fall, giving him a year to adjust to full-day school and to recover from our relocation.  Besides, he’d get to start right along with his classmates and be one of the oldest in his class instead of one of the youngest (he has a mid-July birthday).  So even though he’s definitely bright enough to handle first grade, I was thinking that kindergarten in the US would be right for him next year, and I was hoping that it would be easy to set that up.

But we aren’t in the US.  And however much we miss everyone, we realized a few months ago that without having found work in the US for Dan, we might be staying here a bit longer.  And if we might find ourselves still here this coming August, we need to have a plan for school next year for B.  (Liam can stay right where he is, thankfully, because I think we got the kids into one of the best preschools in Vienna, entirely by good luck.)

When we realized we needed a plan for the fall, we also realized we were entirely behind.  Parents of some of B’s friends had turned in applications to private schools in Vienna as early as last September.  We’d been assuming that we didn’t need to, because we expected that we’d already be home … so we hadn’t done anything.  Not a thing.  We didn’t even know which school we wanted him to attend.

We’re fortunate to have several good options to choose from.  The automatic path would be for B to go from his Viennese preschool straight into first grade in a Viennese primary school.  The instruction would be entirely in German, and, following that path, he would have quickly become completely fluent and bilingual.  The state schools are free (or maybe very nearly so) but, attractive as all of that is, we opted against this, except as a fallback plan.  Our sole objection was a big one — *our* German is insufficient to keep us abreast of the goings on, even at the preschool.  As B advances in his education, I don’t want to be entirely shut out of the process.  Besides, if our eventual plan is to return to the US and enroll him in school there, I think he might get a stronger base for that by learning in English.  I worry a bit that the holes in his ability to understand or communicate in German might prevent him from learning as much as he could, or could lead to frustration as he moves forward.

That decision narrowed our options to the two major English-speaking international schools in Vienna (yep, two) — the Vienna International School and the American International School.

All of this was really weird to me.  First, I honestly never imagined that either of the kids would attend elementary school outside of the US.  It was part of our fundamental thinking from the very beginning of deciding to live abroad — that we were going with enough time to come back before elementary school.  It was part of the PLAN (and oh, how I love a plan)!  Secondly, I absolutely never envisioned my kids attending private school at all.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area with some of the best public schools in the US, and, before we moved, we were raising our kids in an area with an equally impressive public school system.  Private school was never really on my radar.  And then, we moved here, and the Vienna public preschool that we got our kids into is amazing.  I just never considered private school.  So I’ve been left to ponder, whether I am really prepared to send my child, who will be just barely 6 years old, to a private school that costs nearly as much per year as college?  (Fortunately for us, the IAEA reimburses most of the expense.)  It’s not at all something I ever imagined we’d be doing.  Yet here we are.

As I’ve said, we were way behind in the process, and initially Benjamin was wait-listed for next year.  A few weeks ago, though, we heard he’d gotten a place for next year for first grade.  And we are beyond thrilled about it.  I truly believe that it’s the right place for him if we’re in the “still in Vienna” situation.

Through the entire admissions process, it was simply assumed that he’d attend first grade next year, based on his age and the fact that we and his teachers raised no concerns that would preclude his placement in first grade.  After all, if he were going to Austrian school next year, he’d go to first grade, and other than his German (which isn’t an issue in an English-speaking school) he’s at a comparable academic, intellectual and emotional level to his peers.  So, first grade.

But, after the admissions hurdle was cleared, I started really thinking about that for the first time — was first grade really the right place for him next year?  Is he ready to go from a half-day Vorschule program to full day first grade?  The kids who are currently attending kindergarten at the international school (the kids who would be his classmates next year) are in full day kindergarten now, but he’s not.  He’ll be one of the youngest and smallest in his class, and, if he’s in first grade, then at whatever point in the next 12 months we get the chance to move back home (Dan’s contract expires next April, so it’ll happen sometime this year) he’ll have to transition from first grade at the international school to first grade in the US.  Wouldn’t that whole transition, which already means 2 new schools in 1 year, be a whole lot easier done in kindergarten than in first grade?  Add to that the fact that B’s best friend, who will also be attending the same school next year, will be in kindergarten next year (he has a November birthday, so his placement in kindergarten was as automatic as B’s was into first grade).  I think it really might be nice for him to make the switch with a friend or two.

These are the questions that I’ve been running around in my head for the past few weeks.

On the other hand . . . do I really want to be one of THOSE parents?  Do I really want to start hovering before my poor kid has even gotten hs foot in the door?  I mean, how typically American can I be?  Besides, he’s a bright kid, and he might be bored in kindergarten.  Maybe it’s time for him to be challenged a little more.  Am I really prepared to start meddling ALREADY?

Apparently I am.  We contacted the admissions counselor at the school and asked whether they would consider switching B’s placement for next year to kindergarten.  And I feel good about the decision.  I do think I’m being a bit meddling and overbearing.  But I also think it’s the right thing for him (I only wish I’d thought of it before we’d gone through the admissions process, because I get the impression it would have been a non-issue if I’d raised it at the beginning).

We don’t know their decision yet.  There’s a meeting of the admissions board next week, and they’re going to discuss it then.  I don’t know if this is a formality or not.  I have no sense of which way the decision is going to go.  But we’ve decided we’re going to fully and happily accept whatever they decide.  We wholeheartedly feel that this school IS the right place for him for next year (if we’re here), and we trust their judgement.  They do this all the time. This school, perhaps more than any other, is thoroughly experienced and well prepared to place a child in the right spot.  They are used to assimilating kids from all over the world and a wide variety of educational backgrounds, from the US and Japan, from Finland and Kenya.  They’re used to kids who speak different languages, who have only been home-schooled previously, kids with different learning challenges, and kids who have collected pieces of education in a variety of countries around the world.  We are going to trust their decision, and whatever they choose, we’ll go with it.