Saturday, September 25, 2010

Obsessing over Preschool!

I spoke the unspeakable today.  The phase that I believe every mother thinks in their head at some point and then quickly pushes into the trash away from memory and the world, imagining that nothing ever happened.  I told Mari that I wish I wasn't a mother.  Boy that was harsh.  What an awful thing to say.  It stung to say it the way that it must sting when a kid screams 'I don't love you!'
I've been depressed.  Mus be from the mix of readjusting after a long road trip and dealing with the special education process.  I didn't do anything at work this week!  I mean that I did the absolute minimum I could possibly do to tread water.  I probably worked a solid 4 hours all week.  Pretty pathetic considering I won an award for being so extraordinary last year.  But my boss was out for a wedding and surgery, so it was easy for me to not work hard.  
Every day last week I was either visiting the Special Ed program or visiting a preschool.  I have not stopped thinking about Kaio and his future all week.  I'm obsessing and it's draining.  Nothing seems right.  None of the schools seem like a fit for him.  And I can't help but worry that there is something wrong with him, even though he seems ok to me.  I don't know what any of this means in the long run.  Will he grow out of it, or is he crazy?  Will he be disadvantaged if I do A or B or C?  Why don't the 'professionals' agree with me that he is fine?  If the system finds him as 'special,' then maybe I don't want to be a part of the system?  I'm so freaking confused.
I went to the best and most expensive school in the area: Nysmith School for the Gifted.  It is a wonderful place filled with natural light and programs based on discovery and creativity.  But their preschool program seemed heavy in the arts and crafts.  The math and science activities were painting and mixing with colors and counting windows on a bus.  It seemed like they were incorporating learning into fun activities.  But, I'm just not sure that Kaio would consider those activities fun.  I would much rather see him out in the real world counting butterflies or times that a rock skips across a pond, dropping sticks and leaves into the water to see what floats.  I just don't jive with the craft activities.  I want the kids to be outside.  
Nala has a book with feel and touch baby animals: fluffy chicks, rough baby elephant ears, furry gorillas.  what's with the book?  I want them at the zoo, touching the animals.  And that has really been the basis of my two days at home with them: let's get outside and see the world.
Kaio will tell you all about how bees make honey by pollinating the flowers and going back to their hives.  He knows that the honey is sweet and he eats it.  He knows that the flowers come from seeds, water and sun, and that birds like to eat the seeds.  He knows that caterpillars turn into cocoons and then butterflies.  Birds come from eggs and make nests.  He knows when people are happy, sad, mad, surprised, etc.  He knows how to interact with the natural world around him.  To me these things are more important than spending hours sitting at a table cutting and gluing.  
I've been reading about the Reggio Emilia preschool approach.  Where children direct their learning, teachers are the co-learners, and nature is the third teacher.  The philosophy, built on sensory exploration and discovery, seems ideal to me.  It seems so in tune with Kaio's personality.  He is always moving, touching and feeling.  Once he figures something out, he is on to the next thing.  If he is challenged, he persists.  Like today, we learned about pulley systems by taking a string attached to a tree branch far away and draped over a nearby tree branch.  He learned that when he pulled the string down and up it moved the tree branch far away left and right.  I attached fallen branches to the string to show how the string moves on both ends.  He and Nala both were so into it.  We also took a video of his Thomas the Tank engine while he narrated.  It was really fun. Mari took the good one, but didn't save it.  Here is a short preliminary one:
video
I just can't imagine him sitting still at circle time in a classroom with the other kids.  And I don't think that I want him to have to do that.  I know that teachers keep saying, well he'll have to do it when he goes to school.  But then maybe I don't want him to go to school.  Seriously, I look at those desks all perfectly aligned and I think of some communist culture.  Why do kids have to line up in a straight line to walk to the lunch room?  There is nothing natural about that.  We are creating a submissive society.  
Sure I have problems with authority.  I think I'm above the law, the rules, the process, I don't have to read the instructions, etc.  I am constantly finding ways to stand out in the crowd and it really hasn't turned out so bad for me.  I think it is part survival instinct and I hope that Kaio inherits it.  I think he has.  It must have come from my grandfather, one of the few who escaped from communist Romania.  He and Kaio had an unspoken connection in the year they spent together.  
I know that I am sounding completely crazy right now.  But I'm really getting a dirty feeling about school.  I'm also just freaking out because I don't know the 'right' thing to do.  I wish there were more Regio Emilia style options in the neighborhood.  The one school that I know of is full.  All this worrying about how bad his life will be if i don't get it right is really eating at me.  

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