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These past couple of days I’ve been trying to get a feel for how Autumn is taking to the Spanish immersion part of her day. While she does attend kindergarten all day, only the first half is en español.

I’ve read that there can be some rebellion as children struggle to understand a language they’re unfamiliar with and that they may not like the experience at first. So far Autumn has given no indication that she’s not enjoying herself, so I decided to grill her a little bit when we were alone in the car together last night.

“How are you enjoying school so far?” I asked.

“It’s good,” she said.

“And are you having any trouble keeping up or understanding Mrs. V-?” I asked, referring to her Spanish immersion teacher.

Without missing a beat, she said, “Nope. Everyone else is, but I’m not.”

“Good to know,” I said.

Often times when we’re watching a supposedly kid-friendly show on TV, a dark villain will appear on the screen and scare the pants off of her. She’ll beg us to turn the channel and Nathan and I will be left wondering if Mr. Magoo did indeed get the best of those assassins.

But other times she’s just fearless. She jumps in with both feet and impresses the hell out of us.

I don’t doubt the other children are doing just as well, but it’s very comforting knowing my kid is up to the challenge.

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Ayudame*

The first day of kindergarten was not without its share of drama. Or blurry photos, for that matter.

But when you capture a moment like this:

do you really care if the kid turned out a little fuzzy? But hey, the crap on the floor is SHARP.

That face was in response to me telling her she could not wear the pink sandals you see on the left side of the picture.

The kid has been begging nonstop to wear new clothes, and the day I tell her she can, she chooses to pair the ensemble with sandals that have seen two summers and are so small that her toes extend beyond the tip of the sole.

Whatev.

Eventually she came around and put a smile on her face when DADDY asked to take her picture.

Then daddy stepped in a set the tone for the morning.

Crazy.

The girl said she wanted waffles for breakfast, but as luck would have it, we had eaten the last of the waffles this weekend. So I decided to make some from scratch because every child’s first day of kindergarten should include waffles if she wants them.

Only after I got the batter going and heated up the waffle iron did she tell me she didn’t actually want waffles for breakfast. She just wanted sausage.

Um, no, we’re having waffles.

But she didn’t like the taste of the waffles I put on her plate. That would be freshness, my dear. It’s the exact same recipe I use for the ones I pull out of the freezer for you every day. Only these are hot and contain much more love. You might also detect a hint of irritation.

More drama, but guess who was finally guilted into eating waffles for breakfast?

Ding!

I do not normally employ guilt as a means to get my child to eat, but at that point I was still in sweaty workout clothes and had yet to take a shower.  At first she said she wanted a Rice Krispie treat instead of the waffles, a request I very adamantly refused. She threw a fit, collapsed on the floor in sobs and refused the waffles. I told her I took the time to make her those waffles PER HER REQUEST, thus making myself very late in the process.

I also locked up the Rice Krispie treats in my room because she’s exactly the kind of child who would have eaten one anyway while I was in the shower.

But when I got out of the shower she was sitting down with the waffles.

The whole drop-off experience at school was not what I thought it would be. There were kids and parents all over the place yet no one could tell me where the Spanish immersion kids were to line up before class. Kindergarten is in the other wing, they’d say. But the principal told us they line up on this side, I’d say. I was starting to get a little stressed, but she was as cool as a cucumber.

Finally I walked into the school, approached a nice-looking lady who I figured might be able to help me and admitted we had no idea where we were supposed to be. She took us to Autumn’s class, and then to the door where Autumn was to line up every day. I think we’ve got it now.

I didn’t want to leave. Other parents were hovering and l just wanted to hover, too, but I had to get to work. This was the last photo I snapped before I left.

She looks happy.

Last night after we put Autumn to bed, I told Nathan I had a feeling Autumn would be one of the kids whose name her teachers would know very well by the end of the day. And deep down I suspected it wouldn’t be because she has a great sense of humor and loves to sing ’80s rock ballads.

Call it maternal instinct, but I had a feeling there might be a little adjustment in the form of acting out. I wasn’t wrong, but I was really hoping to be. I wanted her first day to be perfect. I wanted her to be perfect.

But she wasn’t. She was, however, totally Autumn.

And that skirt you see her wearing in the pictures?

GONE.

She has no idea what happened to it.

This is going to be a long, long year.

*”Ayudame” is one of the Spanish phrases Autumn learned today. It means “help me.”

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It’s nearly 3 AM in these parts and I can’t sleep, so I figured I may as well tell you how our kindergarten orientation went last night.

One thing I haven’t mentioned about Autumn starting kindergarten is that she’s going into a Spanish immersion program. Our district just happened to be starting the program this year at the elementary school Autumn was going to be attending anyway, so right around the time we went through the screening process we also submitted our application to the immersion program.

If you’re not familiar with language immersion, it’s a method of teaching a foreign language that takes advantage of a child’s natural ability to absorb and retain a second language at a very young age. All throughout elementary school Autumn will be taught the standard curriculum by Spanish speaking teachers. Math, geography, history, etc will all be taught in Spanish, and by the time she reaches junior high, Autumn will be fluent in the language. We’re pretty excited about the program and I’m already imagining how useful it will be to have a pint-size translator at my disposal should I ever find myself in Cozumel and in desperate need of a bathroom.

So we arrived at the school last night, and as soon as we stepped into the building I knew I was in trouble. My office at work is freezing most of the time and I wear clothes that are normally inappropriate for the season in order to retain the feeling in my extremities. Yesterday I wore a sweater, a light one as sweaters go, but since it did not behoove the school to turn on the AC for parent night (it’s a public school-why would they?) that sweater may as well have been a parka stuffed with hot coals for all the comfort it offered (read NONE).

We found Autumn’s classroom, introduced ourselves to her teachers and took a quick tour around the school. Even though I grew up in the district, I’d never been in this school before and I was struck by it’s sprawling and somewhat confusing layout. While Autumn’s classroom is an actual room with a door, some of the grades seem to be situated more communally. The library appears to be the hub and I noticed several classrooms were just open annexes of the library itself. Weird but kind of cool at the same time.

We finished our tour and found our way back to Autumn’s classroom, but as more parents and children started filing into the already hot room, I told Nathan I couldn’t take it anymore and quick went home to get rid of the sweater.

Since we only live a half mile from the school, it took me less than ten minutes to drive home, change and drive back. When I returned, the room was stuffed with people and hotter than ever. I found Nathan and asked if he saw any familiar faces. He said yes and pointed to a table where the neighbor who lives behind us was sitting with her son.

Oy. These would be the neighbors I’ve written about before. The neighbors with six kids who spend all summer screaming at each other outside our bedroom window. The chaos of their unsupervised play has been the soundtrack of our summer every year since we moved into this house. The kids appear to have no curfew and we’ll often hear them screaming on the trampoline long after dark.

The thing about this Spanish immersion program is that Autumn will spend her entire elementary career grouped with the same kids. While there may be some parents who may pull their kids out at some point, the classmates Autumn starts out with now will be the ones she has every year through sixth grade.

Ok. So the neighbors we don’t like so much also have their kid in the program. Fine. Let’s get to know them. We’re in this for the next seven years so we may as well make an effort. That is part of the problem, after all. We don’t know them at all and haven’t made any kind of effort to get to know them. Hell, before last night we didn’t even know their last name.

Nuh-uh. Nathan wants no part of that. He doesn’t like the kid who will be in Autumn’s class. He doesn’t like any of the kids, but he especially doesn’t like that kid because he has caught him throwing rocks at our house and tossing random bits of crap over the fence into our yard.

Delinquent, he says. No way is Autumn going to be friends with him.

And so I had to offer a little insight into the female mind. I told my husband that if he declares that boy as off limits, Autumn is going to want nothing more than to be with that boy. This immersion program is welcoming children from outside our district and that boy may be the only class mate who lives close to us. We can’t ignore the fact that one day Autumn is going to be out on the deck, see him in the yard behind us and ask to go over and play.

And if we say no? I have a feeling she’d have no problem finding her own way over there.

So I have my work cut out for me in trying to convince my husband it just might be possible to have a pleasant relationship with these people.

Let’s make an effort now. It might just save us all from becoming reluctant in-laws later, you know?

Other than the neighbor thing, this Spanish immersion program looks like it’s going to be fantastic. I’m actually kind of excited to be sharing our experiences with it and hope to post more updates and anecdotes throughout the school year, neighbor boy or no.

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