This time last year…

This time last year, I was having a mild panic attack, because I was one of those moms who hadn’t put her child on a school waiting list in utero. I had a three-month old new baby, and an about to turn three-year old, who was rapidly succumbing to boredom at granny’s house, and had his nose out of joint big time with the birth of his little sister.  Having canvassed a few of the local play / pre-schools in the area, I realised my rather large faux-pas, at having not paid a school deposit the day I fell pregnant.

So ever the optimist, I filled in forms and hoped that someone would have a space for him by 2013, if I was lucky, never mind the back-end of 2011 or January 2012! The school I was most keen on (who had said that there was no way they could help me that year) gave me a call out of the blue about a week after filling in the paperwork, and said that they had a space for him to start in September 2011 if I was still keen.  Seemingly someone had left with short notice, and he could start immediately.

Deposits were paid quicker than you can say “Playschool costs HOW MUCH!?!” and my little guy was set to start school.

{A photo of Alex’s first-ever ring time sitting next to Emily. Look at how much hair he has!}

He was put in the older of the two playschool classes, where the children all celebrated their birthdays six months to a year before him, so he really was the baby in the class, with some of the kids turning four years old a few weeks after he turned three. I spent the first day of school with him, and was horrified at some of his class mates jumping off of play equipment higher than my waist, and watching the eagerness in Alex’s eyes to follow suit. I was imagining a phone call within his first week at school to say that he had broken an arm or leg while trying to imitate his new friends.

He was so shy, and so little, and it broke my heart to leave him there alone on his second day. (But luckily he took a liking to Emily, the teacher’s assistant, and she helped him settle in!) Before long, he was fitting in just perfectly, had made some friends, and was happy and eager to go to school. Once he started, I felt hugely guilty that I had kept him home for so long, and was worried that I had done him a disservice by waiting till three to send him to school. And keeping him home, was entirely my doing, not wanting to let my baby go out into the big wide world. But I soon realised that he was not at all behind his classmates, and in some cases he was ahead of even the much older children. (Having had one-on-one time with Granny and Grandpa for almost three years, he knew a lot of stuff already!) The only real problem was that he was painfully shy, and this was in part his personality, and partly because he was not exposed to that many kids of his own age. (Even though we had play-groups and some activities such as Kindermusik and swimming, it’s not quite the same as a school setting).

A few weeks after starting school, he turned three, and celebrated his birthday with his new friends.

{Blowing out candles with Elli}

A year later, deep in the throes of grade 000, he loves school. He has made a few close friends and looks forward to seeing his teachers and classmates every day. According to his teacher, Christine, he loves to participate, and is nowhere near as shy as the boy I witnessed on his first day, and at his first parents’ day some 11 months earlier. He has fitted in brilliantly and is a popular and well-liked boy. He has made beautiful art-works, “baked” some delicious creations, played to his heart’s content, and has even been on two outings (to Drake’s farm and the Joburg zoo). And he has learnt SO MUCH! He comes home every day with some new bit of knowledge, and will tell us “Do you know…” followed by the little titbit that he has learnt.

He is at a Greek school, even though we are not Greek, but I am told by his Greek teacher, Matoula, that he is one of the stars in the class. At home, we often hear him singing his Greek songs and pointing out certain things or counting out aloud (to thirty!) in Greek!  (It still amazes me what little sponges pre-schoolers are. When he first started playschool, and was exposed to this second language, I am sure that he was super confused, but now it’s as if he’s been learning it all his life.)

A year later, I am impressed by how much he has learnt, and how he has blossomed since starting school. Some days when I fetch him, and we drive past the play-school building on the way out, Alex says to me, “There’s Elli’s class, and Caris is going to be in Elli’s class when she is a big girl!” (And this time around, I can’t wait for my little girl to start school!)

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