Posts Tagged ‘school’

We survived another curriculum night. Do all schools have these? Each teacher from each class gets about 15 minutes to tell us all about the upcoming year. Since our kids also take Jewish stuff, it’s quite a list. Maya’s classes, if I remember correctly, are: English, French, Hebrew, Jewish history, Jewish ethics, Science, Geography/History, Torah and Gym. I think I’m missing something.  Oh yeah – math! (Funny I should forget that.)

Even Asher, who is only in grade four and hasn’t started with the classes split up like they do in high school, has General Studies (English, math, science), Judaic studies (Hebrew, Jewish history and ethics), French, Social Studies and Gym. Boo merely has General Studies, Hebrew, French and Gym. Only 4 teachers for her.

This, of course, adds up to about a thousand teachers to see (see why I forgot math?) in three different grades. And two parents. I stared at the list for quite some time. I’ve never met Maya’s English teacher, so I’d like to see her, but that clashes with when Asher’s English teacher is talking and she’s new, so maybe she’ll be doing things differently. Been through grade one English twice, so maybe we can skip that, only Boo’s teacher is new too. Maybe I can skip French for Boo and make it to Math for Maya …

We elected to mostly see Boo and Asher’s teachers, the logic being that Maya is competent and responsible and will be able to tell us what is going on in her classes. Boo is too young and Asher is too spacy. I sent J to Asher’s classroom and went to Boo’s, where I sat down beside a dad whose kids are in the same grades as mine. “Which kid do you love least?” I asked him. He looked blank for a moment, then said, “Oh – Jacob,” naming his middle child who is, like Maya, with-it and organized.

Anyway, I am cautious optimistic for this year, but perhaps this is because I avoided Asher’s classes. Last year, I sat there and thought, ‘there is no way my son can handle this.’ But he did just fine and will again.


Maya and I went through her clothing in the past couple of days and basically got rid of everything. It’s all too small or too ugly. She may not have thought it ugly when we bought it, but now it is. So there.

So we went shopping this afternoon. We ditched the younger two with their dad and went mommy and daughter shopping. It was actually a little bit fun. The fun part was hanging out with just one kid. The not-so-fun part was finding shirts my kid actually likes. The in thing this year seems to be shirts made to look as though they are short-sleeved over long-sleeved, only the long sleeve is built right in. We both agree this looks stupid.

The other problem is that she is size 16, which is the largest size in kid’s clothing. This also makes her a small in adult clothing, but the more hip adult clothing is very big on deep V or scoop necks, which is not so great when you are, in fact, a barely-developed 12-year-old. Then we found some lovely shirts in one store and they turned out to be $50 a pop.

But in the end we found her enough to keep her going for now, and had some fun in the process. At one point, I held up a shirt I liked and said, “This looks nice.” She sighed and shook her head and said, “Don’t say things like that without asking me first.” So I said, “This looks nice?” and she said, “No. It’s hideous.”

She’s also outgrown her shoes (of course), so we popped into just one shoe store, but neither of us had any hope because experience has shown that we must spend a least two hours searching every store in our area before we can find anything acceptable. But she right away found a pair she liked in the right size and when she tried them on, they didn’t have any little annoying seam to cause them to be rejected. And while she was jogging around the store in them, I found a pair I liked to replace my destroyed walking shoes. So we both walked out very happy. That was our crowning shopping achievement.

As a final coup de grace, we found a cute outfit for Boo (on sale, of course), who actually needs no clothes as she gets plenty of hand-me-downs, but was going to feel put-out when she saw her elder sister’s swag. That kid is very into clothes already. Yesterday morning she lay in our bed and refused to come out because it was cold and she couldn’t find a sweat shirt. J went into her room and returned with a very cute, but somewhat boyish sweatshirt that she has never actually put on. She spotted it and said, “I’m not wearing that. It’s disgusting!” This in the tone of voice to suggest he’d offered her a dead rat carcass with which to wrap herself.

“What?” he said to her, “I like it.”

She switched to whithering contempt and replied, “Well, this isn’t about you, is it? It’s about me.”

Six years old and already she’s mastered whithering contempt for one’s parents. Maya was so pround.


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I took my kids to school this morning. I realized I have never been to the first day of school before, as J always takes the kids in the morning. Asher disappeared the moment we hit the playground. I found where the grade one kids were congregating and brought Boo, where she happily reunited with her friends. One of the other moms asked me if I’d remembered a camera. Remembered? It had never occurred to me in the first place. This clearly showed on my face, because she said, “I guess not, huh? Third child and all.” I told her, “Third child! I didn’t bring a camera for the first two either.” Might as well establish the bad-mother rep right off the bat.

I stuck around to bring Boo into her class, as most of the other parents appeared to be doing the same thing. Several children were doing the crying-and-clinging routine, which kind of surprised me, as they’ve all been in the school last year and knew all the other kids. Boo watched them with a baffled look on her face, as she was delighted to return. It reminded me of when I started kindergarten. I have a very clear memory of watching two little boys wailing as their mothers left and being unable to figure out what they were making all the fuss about. Didn’t they know their parents were coming to get them for lunch? I expect I had the same look on my face as Boo did.

I settled Boo, then went to tackle Maya’s problem. I went to talk to the vice-principal about her being put in a class with none of her friends (which, at the age of 12, means everything) already last week and have basically been working on the problem for days now. I won’t go into the sordid details because no one really cares but me, Maya and the VP. What it comes down to is that they never, ever allow class changes and yet the VP completely sees my reasoning for requesting one. She is meeting with the teachers as I write, and I will find out their verdict soon.

After that fun, I took Jasper for a walk at the dog park. My hip has been bothering me lately – the doctor thinks it is tendinitis – but it wasn’t feeling too bad. That is, until I tripped over a root. I couldn’t figure out how I could get tendinitis in the first place, given that my activity level isn’t that high, but a few days ago, walking the dog at the park, I tripped over roots twice. This is a common occurrence now with me. I figure that, post-coma, I’m still not quite picking up my feet the way I used to when I walked and the result is a lot of tripping. I haven’t fallen yet, but it wrenches my hip terribly. I suspect that is how I damaged it initially, and keep hurting it. I’m lying on my bed icing it right now, because it really hurts.

The problem with being deconditioned is that it is easier to get injured, and the more injured you are, the harder it is to get stronger again. Anyway, I’ll be seeing a physiotherapist soon.

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We got the class lists for the kids today. They send them out to us ahead of time so we can all freak out before school starts, instead of after. Asher was the only one I was really concerned about, given his ‘issues,’ and he didn’t get the teacher I wanted, but got one who has been away and who Maya and her friend declared was wonderful, so I’m hopeful. I still emailed with a request to meet all his teachers soon.

Boo could survive pretty much anything so I wasn’t worried, but I was still happy to see she got the teacher Maya had for grade one, whom I loved and not the one Asher had, who told us the reason he was having trouble in school was that we didn’t read to him enough and he was just going to be the kind of kid who always had to work extra hard (code for kinda dumb) and that we shouldn’t have him tested, and who was completely wrong.

Maya’s friends are all in the other class. She is very sad. I am very stressed out. And so it begins.

In honour of this, here’s my latest column:


I’m handing in this column a day late. That’s because the topic I chose is ‘going back to school.’ By the time you read this, the topic will be on everyone’s mind as September fast approaches, but as I am writing this, summer is barely half-way finished.

I decided on the topic some time ago, but every time I sat down to write it and contemplated my chosen topic, that muscle in my back that is right next to my left shoulder blade would start to tighten – it has already made itself into a nice little ball – and I’d decide to go weed my garden instead.

Of course, it didn’t occur to me to come up with a different topic. I just sailed down the river of denial until I suddenly realized that my deadline had come and gone, so now I’m writing on that topic, with the muscle in my back growing ever tighter.

I love summer. I love my garden, and the warmth (relative as it has been this summer), and s’mores, and no homework, school lunches, notes to teachers or homework. And did I mention the homework?

I hate the reminding, nagging and helping that goes along with homework. I hate when something goes wrong and my kid wails about how the teacher is going to yell at him or her. I hate my homework – sending in field trip money or toilet paper tubes or family photographs. And I hate realizing half way through the day that I’ve forgotten it again and hoping my son isn’t the only one whose mom forgot (this only happens to my son because my daughter is organized and reminds me of all these things, but my son is a disorganized disaster like his mom and between the two of us, it is hopeless).

I love the relaxation of the rules that comes with summer. Bedtimes are more casual, piano practicing is optional and reading is for fun.

Perhaps instead of calling the topic ‘back to school,’ I should call it ‘ode to summer.’ There, that’s better.

Every summer, we start out by going up to my in-laws’ cottage, which we refer to as going ‘up north.’ For the past two years, we’ve brought two of my nephews up as well. Good friends have the cottage across the road, so this summer we had a gang of six children between the ages of nine and 12, and three six-year-olds on top of that.

The children play at the beach, climb in the tree house, organize large games of poker, stay up late and fill in mad-libs games with swear words, laughing hysterically over their wit.

I love this time because this is when their childhoods most closely resemble how I remember mine (with the exception of the poker games) – relatively free of parental oversight.

Being relatively free of parental oversight then quickly moves into almost total anarchy for the next phase of summer: sleep-away camp. This was my son’s first year and he arrived back home grungy, tanned and full of happy stories. I was worried that the youngest would drive me crazy without her siblings to amuse her, but she reveled in it, repeating several times a day, “I LOVE being an only child.”

In another week, the eldest will be back and we will enter the final stage of summer, one I like to call “Camp Mom,” where I take the kids to museums and the water parks and then there’s the ever-fun school supply shopping. I like to save this until the end of summer for because after a couple of weeks of solid togetherness, with Dad only riding to the rescue in the evenings, school starts to look more appealing, both for the (“I’m booooorrrred”) children and me.

So I guess I love summer not only because I can let my children forage for their own lunches and stay up late watching old movies with me, but because by the end of it, I’ve managed to develop an appreciation for school again. I’ll never like the homework or making school lunches no one eats. But at least it takes all my kids away every day and gives them something to do while I get some peace and quiet.

Perhaps I should have called this topic ‘ode to my laziness.’ Whatever. At least my back doesn’t hurt so much now.

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I need nap

School is almost finished, which delights me almost as much as the kids. I like the lack of routine and absence of homework.

Today was Boo’s end-of-year celebration for kindergarten. When Maya and Asher were there, they had big organized picnics where the kids sang songs and got little diplomas. This year, they just took the kids swimming, which I liked a whole lot better. All I did was sit with the other parents and chatted while the kids swam.

The outside pool for the community centre is right at the end of the school yard, so during recess, the kindergarteners swam while older kids plastered themselves up against the fence and stared in envy. Poor things.

Since Maya and one of her friends are the lunch monitors for the kindergartens, they got to go swimming too, and were mighty pleased with themselves as they waved at their classmates behind the fence.

Most of the moms (and the one dad) there were delighted with the enforced break in their day and chance to sit in the sun for a while. I enjoyed it too, only it wasn’t really a break in my day. I actually found it exhausting.

So now I’m lying on my bed with my dog, who things he’s my baby and must lie on me, trying to muster the energy to throw myself back into the fray and keep organizing to go. But a nap seems more likely.

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