A new era has begun. Our Iz is at this very moment sitting at a real desk, in a real school. I wonder how great a surprise public first grade will be to her, coming from the monastic calm and individualized attention of her MonteCristo preschool.
We arrived on time, and she lined up with all the other kids. I was worried about her shortness, about her looking obviously out of place, but she blended in, height-wise. She shrank back a bit from all the noise and chaos rumbling around her, hanging on to my hand while looking shyly about for familiar faces. (Unfortunately the two children she knows were late, and didn't arrive until after she was inside.)
The teacher (maestra) arrived spot on time to herd the kids into the classroom. And there the real shock hit our girl square in the stomach and was evident on her face: class policy is to speak only en Español.
Iz didn't quite understand that knowing los colores, los números, mucho vocabulario, and having an opinion as to whether or not Ch and LL should have been deleted from the official alfabeto does not actually mean she can speak or understand Spanish. She finally realized that she is rudderless in the classroom, language-wise. The only benefit I can imagine for the first few weeks is that she won't be able to talk (back) so much, because she won't know how.
I hope she doesn't end up crying. She can be tough, but she's also only five years old. I hope the other students, including her friend Blue, will be kind enough to help her out. It's a six-hour day, with completely new routines and an assumption of independent functioning on the kids' parts. Difficult enough if you're the only new student in the class, but doubly taxing in a foreign language. She will definitely have earned some nice comforting ice cream or McFuckwad's, this afternoon.
I left her in the classroom (*sob*) and walked back out to the playground, where I found Blue's mom and a circle of her friends chatting. Blue's mom is a glamorous, gregarious Kiwi, and lost no time in telling all the other parents how Iz skipped a grade and in her opinion is totally brilliant and perfect and amazing. Shit. I had hoped to avoid Iz's being outed; while most people are cool, parents can be grimly competitive, and I like lying low.
I got four nods and smiles, and then they started chatting away about signing up volunteers for the book fair. Whew. I had no chance (or inclination, really) to tell them the real story, which is that our girl skipped nothing, and instead finished kindergarten early. Oh well.
Perhaps her age won't be an issue. But even the maestra, when we came to visit on Friday, commented that "ella es una poco joven." Perhaps, but I doubt that many of the other kindergardeners would want to listen to Iz's theories about bringing plants to Mars to convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to usable oxygen--in either language. This is the best schooling solution we have for her, for now.
Three more hours. I hope she's doing okay.