Monday, September 12, 2011

The first day

I was feeling a lot of anxiety in the days leading up to Miriam's first day of school. She went to KG2 last year, but it was at a small school located on campus. The feeling there was very friendly - no uniforms, and only one class per grade.

Compared to that, this year is the big time. Her school is KG1 - Year 6, with three or four classes per grade. The truth is that I don't know how to be the mom of a kid in a fancy international private school. On Saturday night, I could barely sleep for how nervous I was. I felt like I was starting a new job the next day, but it was one that I felt really unqualified to have.

At least we had the backpack dilemma squared away by that time. When we went shopping for a backpack, the selection looked something like this:
There wasn't a single plain backpack in the place - every backpack had some kind of character on it. I was hoping to avoid a branded backpack but it ended up that we didn't have that choice. So I let Miriam choose the one she wanted and it was a lovely Rapunzel (from Tangled) model. I could live with that - especially the concession she made to Hello Kitty by choosing that for her pencil case.
Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling completely unrefreshed, and still so nervous. We left the house plenty early - it usually takes 10 minutes to drive there, but I figured with traffic it might take as long as 15 minutes. THIRTY MINUTES later, we got to the school, just a bit late. I was so stressed out in the car driving in the horrendous, chaotic traffic jam, and I was trying so hard not to show it to Miriam because I knew that was the last thing she needed. The Middle East has a penchant for grouping like businesses together in one area of town, and Sharjah is no different, even when it comes to schools. So every kid in town was trying to get to the first day of school at the two dozen different schools bounded by a limited amount of road space. It got so bad that people were stopping their cars in the middle of the stop-and-go procession, flipping on their hazards, and getting out to walk their kids the rest of the way. That just made things worse for the rest of us.

ANYWAY. We got there, and I was immediately relieved to see that we weren't the only ones who were late. The school had a cheery yet chaotic vibe going on as all the teachers tried to shepherd all the kids to the right places. We saw Miriam off in her classroom. She gave me a hug goodbye and never looked back.

When it came time to pick her up yesterday afternoon, I made sure to leave the house much earlier than I normally would. Of course, there was no traffic. What a mystery. Miriam told me she had a good day and she even made two friends. She also said there was a library and an "iced tea room." I asked her what was in the iced tea room and she said it was full of computers. So I'm pretty sure she meant the IT room.

Today we tried out the bus. It is actually a van that drives right up to our house, staffed with a driver and a female attendant. Miriam was really excited about the bus - she watched all the neighbor girls get on their buses every morning last school year and it must have been so stiflingly boring for her to - gasp! - ride her bike to school with her mom. Now she is one of the crowd.

Though I confess I had/have my doubts about the bus. It costs extra, for one, and it's an expense that the university categorically does not cover. However, I am not one of those moms who happily drives her kids to school twice a day, every day. Maybe I'm still in denial that that is part of the mom job. But after trying it out today, I think the bus will work well for our family, especially when I get busy with classes this semester (school starts for me next Sunday).

Another new adventure is the joy of having a "Hand Wash Only" school uniform. What the heck, people. Seriously, what the heck. Forget looking into curriculum and demographics and tuition fees - I should have just found the school with the easiest care instructions for the uniform!


The Ensign's said...

It doesn't seem to get easier sending kids off to school each year. I think last year it really hit me a week later when I went in to Shay's room to put something away and just bawled my eyes out. Yes, Shay LOVES school, but I miss her at home.
As for the bus.... I'm with you. I LOVE that Shay takes the bus. If I don't have to drive her to and from school then I'm happy and she loves it. I'm just glad we live in a neighborhood that she can ride the bus.
Oh and good luck with those uniforms =)

Liz Johnson said...

Dude, the bus is worth it. Could it possibly be more expensive than the gas/wear-and-tear/time that it takes to drive to/from?

I'm so excited for her. And SO excited for you to go back to school, too. :)

Katie said...

Oh man, I would have been totally stressed too. This morning my friend and I started a little at-home preschool (just for our two kids) and I kept waking up last night thinking about that. And I didn't even have to go anywhere for it! Just to my basement. :)

Jeanerbee said...

Wow, she is so grown up and so beautiful! I can't believe the backpack blowout you have going on there! Glad she could find a good one... can you order things from Amazon out there? Anyway, good luck this year Miriam!!! And good luck to the fancy private school mommy =). I'm sure you will grow into it as well.

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

What? Hand-wash only?? Treachery! I have a 'hand-wash' setting on my washer, which is the ONLY way I would consider hand washing anything. Ever. If it cannot survive my washing machine, it will never make the cut for surviving in our house. Darn mandatory high maintenance uniforms.
So I'm curious, now that it's been a while, are you still hand washing the uniform or did you find a shortcut?

Bridget said...

Last year, sometimes I hand-washed and sometimes I used the "delicate" setting on our washer. It turned out fine. This year, my housekeeper hand-washes it and she does a better job than I did. Her uniform shirt is still nice and white. When I was in charge, it turned gray pretty fast. :)

(And who the heck chooses WHITE for a school uniform shirt??? Come on, people.)


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