Saturday, September 8, 2007

School Daze

Luc has now started preschool. We have found a gem of a preschool in a very expensive and short-supply area – where people are prepared to pay in excess of $17,000 per child per year for preschool (!), and add their names to countless wait lists and lotteries (all requiring a non-refundable deposit of, sometimes, several hundred dollars)! The school, Cardinal Saint Bernardin Early Childhood Center, is run out of a co-parish Catholic school. Luc is attending the Montesorri room. We are really looking forward to this as it is not graded, and 3, 4 and 5 year old children intermingle. This will allow Luc and Nic to play together when Nic is entitled to attend after his third birthday. Report cards are not written (yes, some schools do this!). Learning is child-focussed and occurs at the particular child’s pace. Some pre-schools are tuition-based (a great way for little boys to fall behind at an even earlier age). The school seems to be everything expounded by some of our favourite child-expert authors: Steve Biddulph and Leonard Sax. Other than that, the teachers are committed, long-term and very caring. We are very excited. 

While not extremely worried before the big ‘first day’, Luc had some concerns “I will cry when my family is not there”. I was able to allay this fear with “Oh, don’t worry about that. All the kids will cry. The teachers expect this and will help you to feel better”. Luc found a great deal of comfort in the thought that everyone would be crying.
Day two – and Luc didn’t even give Paul a parting glance when Paul dropped him off! 

We do have some excellent children’s television programming here – with several stations devoted exclusively to preschoolers. Our favourite show is definitely Sesame Street. Providing a dose of nostalgia for Paul and myself, this program has kept pace with current trends and music and is the only show we have found to consistently present numbers and letters to children. As a result of watching this, Luc knows his alphabet, upper and lower case letters, most phonetics, and is recognising words. I hope someone at school teaches him how to write properly as he has taught himself how to write his name and many letters in a very unconventional manner (I don’t dare try to teach him as I have never held a pen or pencil correctly ) 

Despite some good programming, some stations sneak in advertising. We have taught Luc that the advertisements only want us to buy things, and have tried to impart a healthy scepticism. He will often shout out for us to press ‘mute’ when advertisements come on.  We prefer the boys to watch movies over television and have introduced the boys to some classics that sometimes, (I fear), are beyond their age group – but they have lapped these up. Nic, at the exact same age as Luc previously, has developed an obsession with Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Nic requests to watch Buzz everyday.  Both boys have really got into the Star Wars series and Luc (with his keen eye) now knows every astromech droid (of the R2-D2 variety). Paul thought he would earn some Daddy points and bought Luc and Nic an R2D2 each, and a coveted R4 for Luc. Luc was really upset at his R4 and told us it was the wrong one. Further investigation revealed that Paul had ordered an R4-G9, as opposed to the R4-P17 that Luc really wanted.  

Luc (and Paul and I) loved ‘Singing in the Rain’, and more recently, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Luc has adopted the persona of Tinman, seizing up every now and then and requiring a squirt of oil. He carries around a ‘can of oil’ that he made out of his stickle bricks (actually, Builders and Benders). 

These bricks are the best toy that the boys have. Thank you so much to Aiden and Mikayla for handing these down. Every time Luc is inspired by something he sees, he goes to the bucket and makes something out of his stickle bricks. The most recent incarnations have been a tornado (complete with sucked up house) from Wizard of Oz, an assortment of lasers and “things that go tchoo tchoo” from Star Wars, rocket controls for spaceships, rockets, planets, money for purchases from the ‘toy shop’, all manner of vehicle... The imaginative possibilities are endless. 

Another obsession that Nic has inherited (as per his brother), is that he is a puppy. This has presented itself much sooner than Luc’s obsession. Nic crawls around ‘arfing’ and panting, rubbing up against our legs, and generally being cute. Nic takes the obsession one step further than Luc though, and eats anything he finds on the ground and drinks water from puddles. One really has to be fast to get to Nic before some unidentified and nasty item is on its way to his stomach. This obsession, however, has made it very easy to adopt a ‘child leash’. Luc struggled against this, but I think it helps Nic feel that little bit closer to being a real dog – and it allows him out on the street to run (rather than being trapped in the stroller). Nic has one speed – and that is flat out and racing. This morning, Nic tried to put on the ‘leash’ himself – very excited at the prospect of going out. 

The settlement of our house occurred in late August. Yes, our homey little cottage in Brisbane went up for auction at the end of July. While financially advantageous to us – we were able to pay out all our debts in Australia and the US, purchase items for establishing my home business, and put some away for a future deposit - it has left us with a certain feeling of being ‘lost’. Where is our home now? It is very strange to think we will never be going back there – we didn’t even say goodbye to our little house. We have no ‘insurance policy’ in the form of somewhere to return to. The housing market in Australia has gone so incredibly crazy, we don’t know if we would ever be able to re-enter the market. However, the freedom of not having to send a lump of money home to Australia each month will hopefully ease things over here – allow us to pay Luc’s school fees, put some money towards a car (and parking!), allow me to explore setting up my business, allow us to eat, etc.

Photo: Paul takes Luc to school.