The same, but different

August 17th, 2010

Small Boy started his second year of Kindergarten yesterday; he’s excited to be a Hirte this year. His Kindergarten class is mixed between five/will turn five year olds in the optional first year of Kindergarten and six/will turn six year olds in the required second year. The older kids in the group act as Hirte – “shepherds” who help the new kids learn the ropes, help enforce classroom rules, and sometimes separate kids whose playing is spilling over into fighting. Last year, as one of the new, young kids, Small Boy was a Schaf (a sheep – yeah, don’t get me started) but now he’s one of the Big Kids.

The first day was a breeze yesterday; he’s an old hand at this Kindergarten thing. When I think back to last year and the tears that were involved in my parting, to the fact that I had to stay nearly an hour that first morning and was the second-to-last parent allowed to say goodbye and leave the room, I see how much he’s grown up in the past year. Yesterday I stayed through the standard introduction and parent information session, then Small Boy ran off to the art table and started drawing pictures of butterflies and I said I could go. (His drawing has developed by leaps and bounds over the past year as well and he often dashes off to the “art project table” we have at home to draw a picture. Have I shared his pictures of Fabian Cancellara that he drew during this year’s Tour de France? No? Well, here’s one:

It may seem childish for a five and a half year old, but I never really did much drawing with him before he started kindy, so he went from literally scribbling like a toddler to drawing people on bicycles in the course of the Kindergarten year and I am very proud of him and his pictures. And that he comes up with the ideas himself, and just runs off to draw them.)

This morning I dropped Small Boy at Kindergarten – I’ve gone through the whole how-long-do-I-keep-bringing-him-all-the-way-to-the-school-house-door drama here, and for now I’m still going all the way to the building with him and picking him up at the door – and saw the clutch of new moms going into the building with their kids or peeking through the window into the changing room. The new moms are so cute; that was me last year, hovering outside the window making sure he got out of the changing room and into the classroom. This morning I simply kissed Small Boy goodbye in the school yard and called out “Tschuss!” (bye-bye) as he went running off to the building. He likes Kindergarten.┬áHe’s good at it. He’s not the most popular boy in the class, but he’s not the outsider and that’s all I could wish for. He knows how to try to play with other kids and he’s got his best buddy who he has regular out-of-school play dates with. He has even, clearly, learned a lot.

I’m curious to see what this second year brings. He is in the same classroom with the same teachers, but now that he is one of the older kids I’m curious to see how the teachers change what they expect of him. They must slowly expect more of the six year olds; these are the kids who will go to school next year. I would think they will expect ever longer periods of attention, even greater pencil control, closer attention to detail, more precise following of instructions. This year will be the same, but different, and I wonder what that will look like.