I began one every-other-day class at the beginning of the year, but then had to join the other, every-other-day class half way through the year to be able to continue my meeting with the school speech therapist (yes, I had the "cute" habit of saying, "I'm sowy, did da thiwy wabbit go dat way?") Anway, I hid in the closet, petrified as to why on earth MY classroom was filled with DIFFERENT kids. Thankfully, my big sister grabbed the closest girl she could find, flung open the closet door, and said, "Look Julie, this is your new friend, Gina!" I got over my shock fairly quickly- after all, everyone spoke English, looked similar to me, and played outside on the same huge playground and grassy field.
For me, Elijah starting school has been me putting to death a lot of my own expectations and familiarities. He is probably the only American to ever attend his school. He is the only toe-head in his class. He speaks approximately 20 words of Spanish (thankfully, "may I go to the bathroom" being among them"). There is no playground (only a concrete patio with toys parents donate). There is no grass. Really. He doesn't go to a cafeteria for lunch (they eat a snack at 10am, then eat lunch at 2pm when school is out). He is now being told that all of the letters of the alphabet sound completely different than his mommy taught him. He sees bullies picking on little kids and doesn't know how to say anything, so he just hides. He also has to remember that his name is now Elias (Aye-Lee-Us) and not Elijah.
But, you know what....? He loves it! He hasn't cried once! He is excited to leave and excited when he comes home. Isn't it a blessing if he can't get grass stains on his pants? The boy will be bilingual by next June! He will learn to listen, read people, be sensitive, be intuitive. I imagine there will be tears shed this year (by more than him), but I believe God is sovereign, and in control over every aspect of our lives. God knew, before he was born, that Elijah would be raised cross-culturally. I can trust that God will use all of these circumstances to form him into the man he's supposed to become. It is my role to, with an open, yet close hand, watch and support as God does a work in my little man's life. This school adventure is just another opportunity for me to "be still and know that HE is GOD."
I remember one wise, weathered mother telling me that it's good to create an environment in your home that makes your kids happy to return after their day at school. I wanted yesterday (Elijah's first day of school) to be special, so I baked his favorite sugar cookies. I made him a dolphin, as they are his favorite mammal.
(but now the problem is, he expects baked treats every day... sigh)
What has been an unexpected and wonderful discovery is that the other kids are THRIVING in their new found roles. Levi LOVES being the "oldest" for part of the day. He is so much calmer than his big brother. He takes his school time with me very seriously, and is very motivated to learn to read right now. He likes being put in charge of things that used to fall on Elijah. He could spend the whole day doing art.
Eliana, who normally found her role in being the pesty, disruptive little sister who zinged in and out while the boys tried to do "school" with me, LOVES getting more focused attention, and so has jumped right into her role as student. Despite her apparent short-attention span, she is quite bright. I'm realizing that when it appears she's indifferent or not paying attention, she's secretly learning and retaining. Sly little thing :-) She and Levi have gotten along considerably better with Elijah gone, and she's been much more joyful since she's receiving a lot more of my undivided attention.
Lucas, the silly fellow, spends 98% of his day in two activities: Trying to stand up on objects (and getting stuck there upon, until I come and rescue him. He's spent some sleepless nap times due to his relentless urge to stand up) and eating any and every object he finds on the floor. Please don't call CPS, but today I had to fish TWO more thumb tacks out of his mouth. At the same time. Pray he survives this "explorer" stage. He is quite vocal. He has repeated a lot of words, but his three official, self-initiated words are "hola," "Lijah," and "acala" (which is chocala..."give me five" in Spanish). Oh, and as a side note, he now weighs a pound more than his sister!)
Nathan and I just celebrated our 7th year of marriage! We love each other dearly, and I still have to pinch myself that God blessed me with such a godly, humble, hard-working, servant of a husband.