This past week my two youngest started Chinese preschool and kindergarten.
For China Surprise, now age 6, this was a return to the KG she attended before our 7 month stint in the US.
For Big Z, this was his first venture away from home since he came to our family 18 months ago.
For Chopstick Mama, it was a leap of faith.
The first time I did this with our two oldest girls at 4 and nearly 6, I literally sent them into a black hole that I could not predict anything about.
We had been in-country for less than two weeks, I knew zero Chinese, and we just trusted God and our friends who had gone before.
We sent them in to that school blindly, not know what to expect, what they would eat, how the teachers would treat them, and all the rest.
With #3, our son, I was an Old China Hand. I even clothed the naked statues in the front yard at the next preschool they went to.
This time I knew more. Maybe too much.
And I was grieving the paradise-like kindergarten class my baby girl had just attended in the US for the past few months.
The bright colors, the developmentally appropriate learning, the wonderful bulletin boards, the Christian message, the sweet nurturing teachers. The western approach to education and learning. The positive, enthusiastic, individualistic approach. The playground. Oh….I’d better stop.
It was almost more than I could bear to send them both into a vastly different classroom. I was gloomily thinking about boxes with mismatched broken toys, Chinese readers, and lots of math problems and practice writing characters. Lots. And going through the entire first grade curriculum as part of “pre-first grade.”
Think Dorothy in Kansas, gray, worn, drab.
Flash to Oz-bright, sensory, glorious.
So now they’ve been going for a week, and Z is going to his own class after eating a second breakfast with his sis in her classroom.
The first day’s report was that he eagerly ate all his own plus his sister’s pig livers.
The teachers are kind and sweet, and I know that this will be a good thing.
The kids are not as loaded with emotional baggage as I am, and embrace the new normal much more readily.
It’s really a refresher lesson for me in acceptance and adaptability–taught by my children.
And the bonus:
A picture the teacher sent me of Z playing with, of all things, Montessori toys!
Even if we’re not in Oz anymore, Kansas is good too.