Sunday, September 5, 2010

School Girls

(This posting I started back in early September-- It never got finished, so I'll leave it in it's raw form. )

Back-to-school festivities began last week with a home visit from Phoebe's teacher. People call Pam "The Toddler Whisperer," and there really is some other-wordly manner to how she meets children. She said a brief hello to me, then quickly focused on Phoebe, and big sister Miranda, too. The kids were rapt. They showed her their puzzles, and explored with total engagement the two "works" that she brought from the classroom: a seashell in a basket and a ball-in-a-box. The kids pointed out the three apples sewn on her dress, and Phoebe was particuarly impressed with the braid down her back. After Pam left, there was a little meltdown of "I want to go to school RIGHT NOW."

Right now came on Wednesday morning, with unusual cooperation in the brushing teeth and fixing hair category. The girls were ready 30 minutes early, leading to an agonizing wait and a little photoshoot on the front porch. (See above.)

Phoebe is in the Toddler House with the two-year olds, and there is an elaborate three week "Phase In" process that requires a parent or care provider-- preferable the same one every day-- to be present in the classroom until the teacher decides the child is ready. Now, there's no way I personally could pull that off, so Sonja has taken up the task. On that first day, we drove to school in separate cars so that Phoebe could wave a smiley goodbye to me from the house, so as not to risk a tearful goodbye at the door of the classroom. Phoebe was delighted to meet Pam at the door, and Sonja picked a chair in the middle of the room. Phoebe hung by her side for just two or three minutes, then got busy with her "work". Sonja proudly reported later that Phoebe was the only child in the mini-sized kitchen who was able to pour her own water from the faucet. There were a few check-in moments through the session when Phoebe wandered back to Sonja-- who was busy with her own quiet "work" of reading, or pretending to-- but she was overall happy to explore. There have been three days of this, so far, with Sonja still in the room. Next week, as I understand it, the teacher will tap Sonja quietly on the shoulder when Phoebe is engaged, and Sonja will say a brief goodbye as she slips out to the Lobby. There will likely be some back-and-forth if Phoebe looks concerned, until, a few days later, or maybe two weeks later, depending on the child, the teacher will give the word that Sonja can venture off of school grounds. And then we'll be rolling-- a regular school routine. It's a long process, but I am grateful that Phoebe will have the time to adjust and be comfortable, without tearful goodbye and toddler protests. When those things happen (as it did at the babysitting at the gym this week), I never know if this is just toddler behavior, or adoption issues-- and at least with this school and this long approach, I don't have to wonder. Phoebe can phase-in when she is ready.

Miranda is upstairs in the Children's House with 3-, 4-, and 5- year olds, many who are in their second or third year in the same room with the same teacher. In great contrast to the Toddler House, upstairs we were instructed just to give a cheerful "Goodbye! Have fun! See you in a little bit!" Miranda found her cubby in the hallway, put on her slippers by herself, and walked right up to the room. She was so curious about what was inside that classroom doorway that she didn't say goodbye to me, but just slowly walked in, eyes wide, a little overwhelmed, very excited. Class was only 30 minutes the first day-- just enough to explore the mini-size bathroom and a puzzle of the world. I arrived maybe 2 minutes early to pick her up, and was amazed how how these four children-- only the new children-- were already hard at work. . .

(Thoughts end here. To be continued.)