Olivia started preschool, thank the maker. I initially wasn't going to send her to preschool this year, but I'm sure glad I did. Love her as I do, I was still getting burnt out from being around an energetic toddler who needs my attention full time.
Active toddler, terrorizing cat
Actually, Olivia's the main reason, but I also feel like I'm the house mother at times. My friend Cindy and I concluded that men think of themselves first, and women think of everyone else first and put themselves last. I ran that by my mom. She nodded and added, "Men think of ONLY themselves."
I needed a break. This is why I didn't cry when I left Olivia at school, though I did take a lot of photos to document this big moment. She did not care either, and was happy to meet new people and have cool toys.
FINDING A SCHOOL
I have a circuituous preschool story. When I was pregnant, I panicked a little about finding a sitter and a school, because I heard horror stories about how difficult it is to secure either one. For example, colleagues Russ Yamanoha and Trini Kaopuiki referred me to their daycare centers, but when I called, there were no openings.
Most of my friends and acquaintances think I'm a totally together, organized person, who would completely control my kid's educational future. They teased me about being the mother who would have a three-ring binder with divider tabs to collate complete research on the best preschools island-wide.
They assumed I'd analyze Olivia's personality as compared to the preschool style, and factor in the school's perceived status as a "feeder" school for the elite grade schools. That could not be further from the truth. I guess I should be flattered they think I'm totally on it, but I am so not.
I was so tired, I just figured I'd ask around for some good ones in my neighborhood, and apply there. So, none of the schools are elite, and I ended up applying to three preschools. I did this when Olivia was one year old.
The process is so intense, that people apply when the kid's still in utero! Still, I applied for two schools. The third, Kamehameha Preschool, is a little different in that they operate by lottery (versus first come first served), and you either make it or you don't for this school year. She did not, and is waitlisted for next year.
I applied in January 2009 for the two other, unnamed schools. I took notes because, well, that's what I do. I'm a reporter at heart. And I know I will forget if I don't, so I write it all down. I followed up with the schools in February 2010 and April 2010, respectively. They were supposed to call me, but both did not... because they both misplaced my application.
I am totally disgusted by that, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised since School #1 was especially terrible about returning my phone calls and e mails. When I followed up in person, they couldn't find my application for ten minutes, and finally dragged up their wait-list.
It was all secretive and they wouldn't tell me how many kids were on it, but I could kind of see through the paper that was a long list - maybe three dozen names? They wouldn't assess Olivia's chances of getting in either, saying it varied widely year to year.
I think there was some kind of management communication issue because a few weeks after I talked to the preschool director, I got an e mail from someone else at that office confirming that they received Olivia's application. You know, the one I submitted in January 2009, with confirmation coming now in April 2010, 15 months later.
My experience was School #2 was less terrible but still unacceptable. They changed their application procedure and had mailed a letter to all the parents to re-apply. They had new questionnaires, and application fees. Except they overlooked me.
When I politely (gotta be polite in case you end up sending your kid there, right?) questioned this, the staffer said, "It's a moot point because we still have a few openings left, so why don't you just fill out the new application, send in the fee, and we'll get her in for this year." Not if they're so disorganized!
ALMOST GIVING UP
I had decided to just keep her home with me. I am unemployed, no big deal. There are people who can help when I have the occasional freelance job. Then, one week I was walking around my neighborhood and remembered about another small school. I looked online and saw they had a few openings left. I applied and got her in.
I have been completely impressed with this school, and I liked what I saw on my visits. It's clean and neat, and other neighbors have good things to say about it. The staff remembers me, and lots of details about, say, my application and what I have or haven't submitted yet. They're totally on it and very friendly.
So thus it changes in my household again. The nanny moved his morning hours to afternoons, though we're all still adjusting to the change. It's not a bad change, but it takes a few days to find the rhythm. We had to wake up earlier to get her ready for school. I forgot to pack her lunch the night before, so I rushed on that in the morning. I still forgot to put her drink in her lunch box.
We are all still getting used to thinking in terms of new hours. I have things planned for the rest of my week, and I totally forgot I have more free hours in the day to get stuff done. Most of my appointments are built around her old schedule, so a lot of my afternoon appointments are either kid-friendly, or play dates just for her, which I can now change.
Sleeping habits change too. She likes 11 or 12 hours, so we have to start getting her to bed earlier. This morning when I woke her up she was Super Grump, to which Claus said, "She's YOUR daughter. She likes to sleep and gets cranky when she can't." I guess so.
We're learning, too. I know nut allergies are the big thing now, but I didn't realize I can't pack peanut butter in the sandwiches unless it's an "alternative" peanut-free peanut butter.
I came home to a quiet house. People were still in it, but they were all grown up. And still sleeping, as a matter of fact. I really enjoyed the change of pace and the freedom.
I have yearned for a while to just sit and relax quietly. I couldn't, actually, because I had to take my dad to medical appointments, and in between, work on some freelance articles and cook dinner.
But the hour or so that I was able to veg out was splendid. I relished the calm, the fact that nobody was asking me to make a snack, the silence where there would normally be PBS Kids as my background noise.
I could love this, I thought. I could drop her off at school, take a yoga class, cook dinner, bake cakes, see girlfriends, read a magazine, clean my house, and then enjoy her when she comes home from school in the afternoon.
And then I missed her. I thought about what she might be doing in class now, and missed that she wasn't asking me to make her a snack or interrupting my space with requests to play. I hate being tired, but I did miss my girl. I was happy to note that the end of the school day was just half an hour away.
It's the irony Paul Drewes warned me about ages ago when I was still pregnant. "You spend your whole day with them and you just want some time to yourself, and the minute you get it, all you do is think about them," he said, describing how he and his wife would have the occasional dinner date, and end up only talking about the kids.
DID YOU MISS ME?
I drove down to get her. She was napping. I was excited to see her, to be in her class. I took her photo while she was sleeping. I took a photo of her cubby. It's all so cute.
Cat thought bubble: "I miss being tortured by Olivia."
I was also amazed that the teacher could get her to nap. At home, she began resisting naps and quiet time in the last month, so rather than get frustrated I just stopped trying. The doctor said it was normal.
The music was kind of blaring. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe it was too quiet at my house for napping.
I woke her up and she was bleary eyed. "Hi, Honey," I said. She stared at me groggily.
"A bird flew into the class and the teacher said it was OK," she responded. Not Hi Mom or anything like that. Just the bird.
She gathered her lunch box and we went home to an excited audience of babysitter and grandparents who wanted to hear all about her first day.
"Did you miss Mommy?" I asked.
"No," she answered, before discussing some other important topic like popsicles or loving the color pink.
Ow! Maybe I should have thought twice about sending her to preschool!
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