Connor started 5-day a week Kindergarten this year at the Waldorf school he's been attending since just before Helen was born. On the first day, parents were instructed to bring in a box with a change of clothes in it and a pair of inside shoes. Connor was fairly nonchalent about the whole experience. Excited to get to see his buddy Sasson again, but it's not like he spent his summer crossing off the days until school began. Now that it has started though, he does seem to be enjoying it. His biggest complaint is that Mr. Kinnicutt only lets the children model with beeswax on walking day (Friday) and never any other time. Of course, this is because Monday is bread making day, Tuesday is soup making day, Wednesday is painting day, and Thursday is coloring day. Last Friday, Connor felt he was given inadequate time to model his beeswax so he brought his precious piece home to work on it some more.
Helen, on the other hand, was thrilled at the mere mention of school. As soon as she realized her full-time playmate was abandoning her, she decided she might as well go to school too. First, we heard "Helly need a backpack. Now Helly need a box. An' shoes, an' clothes" and by the end, she was prepared for her first day. I tried to fake her out and tell her that the playgroup she attends on Monday and Wednesday was her school, but she was buying none of it. As if to prove her point that she was ready for school, she paraded around the house with her backpack.
And then the day came when I took Connor to school and left her with Kathy. Worse, on Friday, I brought her with me to drop Connor off because I didn't figure there was any need to get Kathy out of bed to watch Helen for a half hour while I ferried Connor to school. So Connor went into the playground where he starts his day, and was all too excited to bring Helen in with him. I waited outside the gate as Helen and Connor were the picture of perfect siblings. Connor would hold Helen's hand and take her into the tee-pee, Helen would give him a big hug. Hand in hand they explored the playground until it came time for the morning verse. Connor led Helen to the circle where all the parents join in and we sang the verse together.
And then it was time to say good-bye, and to say Helen was crushed would be the understatement of the year. She finally tasted school and it was as good as she dreamed. But now she was being dragged away and she cried "Connor" in the saddest tone anyone who is not Helen's mother could imagine, and every mother in the parking lot that day looked at me and almost had tears in their eyes as they commented on how that was the saddest sound they'd ever heard. It almost made me turn around and enroll her in the parent-child class just so she could go one day, but she's too young and I'd rather spend our Fridays in a more freeform manner at this point.
Of course, Connor was quickly forgotten as we chased each other around a nearby playground. And when it came time for pick-up, Helen knew she was the one who knew what to do since she picks Connor up every other day of the week with Kathy. Helen toddled right up to the big school door, demanded that I open it, and then marched in. When we got to Connor's classroom door, she put her back to the wall and told me (and everyone else there) to line-up. And then Mr. Kinnicutt opened the door and saw us, and out came Connor with a huge smile on his face, exclaiming that "it was beeswax day! We got to model beeswax!" And his first creation? A ball.
Since then, Helen seems to understand that school is not for her. Connor has told her often that you have to be TWO to go to school, and you don't get to go every day until you turn FOUR. He fills her in on lots of other details and I'm quite sure she's listening and trying to figure out a way to sneak in some day.