Back to School!

School started this week. It’s been a weird time because no one has been excited without reservation like past years (except maybe Linus). Ruby, Archie and I were dragging our feet. 

Every assignment I got from the school was like a physical “ugh” and a mind block where I would consider it nearly impossible. Then after a day or two, I’d slowly be able to come up with something that while not the full assignment would be enough to slide us by... for now. 

We managed to get all the school meetings done. Woo went to half and I went to half. In the past, I’ve gone to all of them, but after attending Archie’s and not understanding more than a couple sentences, Woo had to attend the ones we decided were the most important to actually know what was going on.

In looking back, Archie’s class meeting was easily the worst one. His teacher did not hand out any flyers, nor use any slides (so nothing for me to read simultaneously). She spoke very fast, did not give the usual back-to-school spiel, and I was sitting near the back, so couldn’t hear as well. 

Buying supplies from everyone’s supply list seemed like an unconquerable burden, so I just bought a bunch of likely things when we went grocery shopping and luckily, it appears to have been enough to get everyone started. 

Ruby had her back-to-school meeting alone. (Parents were invited to a separate meeting to keep numbers low, that Woo attended later that evening.) She was not very excited, but she walked bravely off to the high school, which was a mystery to all of us, to figure out what she was supposed to do.

She came home feeling better. Her main teacher appears to be a pleasant person, her class was almost entirely new people, and the new school building is intriguing.

And then everyone was off to school!

Penelope and Archie do not need to wear masks, but they do have a staggered entrance and release time, which is irritating when dropping off or picking up more than one kid, because they are 20 minutes apart. 

Archie was very hesitant to go into the school alone. I walked him through the gate to the door, without a mask (which I now know is against the rules), but he shuffled in from there. I watched him turn the wrong direction to his classroom and it wasn’t until later that I realized he hadn’t been allowed to the start-of-school meeting I went to and he had no idea where his new classroom was. Of course, the 1st grade teacher helped him figure it out. 

The country has a shortage of school books, because at the end of last year they told everyone to keep the books. Normally, they collect books at the end of the year and reissue a lot of them. The publishers did not foresee having to supply every student with new books this year, and they’re on back order. Our kids do not yet have their books, along with about a third of the kids in each of their classes. So far it has not been a problem because everyone seems to have agreed to start teaching from last year’s books (that everyone kept, from the grade before.) 

Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus were issued a package of 3 school-approved face masks, and they are not allowed through the school gate without a mask.

Herbie, Moses and Linus also must each use a separate entrance into the school. Their classrooms have plastic dividers between the desks and the desks are also turned at angles to one another so no one is breathing directly in the direction of another. They say that it is difficult to see through the dividers and Linus, who sits on the far end of the room with the board at his right shoulder, has already been told he needs glasses (which to be honest, he might).

These three also tell us they need brand new athletic shoes to be worn in gym and only in gym to prevent the spread of spit and sweat from someone else on the gym floor spreading to their shoes that they wear everywhere else. 

Ruby’s back-to-school blessing said that she would thrive in a difficult environment, and we saw that by Friday already. Her philosophy teacher is also the theater teacher. Ruby came home with a poor impression of the teacher who was very dramatic, inappropriate and disrespectful.

Then Ruby said they were each asked to share something important to them. Ruby was near the end and considered a few things to say before settling on chastity. Which she said, I’m sure, with no nervousness or embarrassment at all. Can you imagine how courageous that must have been?

It was completely silent after she said that, and it turned out that many kids in her class had no idea what chastity was. The teacher explained and said she would respect Ruby and encouraged the class to also even though she was different, and afterwards the teacher’s manner was more respectful. 

Friday I went to pick up Penelope and Archie from school and found myself fighting against the strongest wind I’ve ever felt in my life. I even said a prayer to make it. I arrived to find one of the employees leading a child out of the school door, where both of them were immediately struck with such a terrific wind that they were both dragged to the east. The employee managed to grab hold of a window sill, hug the boy and inch them both back into the safety of the school.

Archie was just inside of the door, waving at me. I knew the employee couldn’t manage it, so I went inside the gate to get him myself where I was almost blown off my feet and had to hold onto the doorway of the school. I wasn’t leaving with only Archie. I asked for Penelope, but her teacher wouldn’t release her with some of Archie’s class waiting at the door.

I got in trouble and was sent back out to the gate, when the wind immediately lost it’s ferocity. Both Penelope and Archie were released to me, where immediately Penelope was upset because I was 20 minutes late for her (the first I’d heard of it; I was right on time for Archie). 
(Penelope made the Friend!--lower left)

This getting the stagger time right is clearly very important to Penelope. She’s mentioned it to me several times since then; I overhear her talking to the other kids about it; and she’s offered me a couple of plausible solutions I might consider. I guess I have to make a greater effort next week. *sigh* 

Moses decided he was really excited the night before school started and did not sleep well. He was a complete mess that first day and Woo warned him many times to pay attention so to not hurt himself.

Adding to Moses’s anticipation stress was that he had to wait to leave a couple of hours after Linus and Herbie has already gone. The middle school is staggered even more with Moses starting school in the afternoon some days. He gets out of school later than we normally eat dinner almost every day, which I was worried about until we saw that Ruby (who is also on a staggered late schedule) gets out at almost the same time. Her school is only about a quarter mile away, and they’re able to meet up for the walk home.

But until afternoon is a long time for Moses to wait, although he enjoyed his bike ride he got to take with Woo and I, even when it rained.

After the bad wind experience picking up Archie and Penelope I also struck out to meet Ruby and Moses coming out of school. The wind had died down quite a bit, but I still wanted to be sure. They were happy to see me and walking home with them and hearing about their day was the highlight of my rough day.

Herbie has put a lot of effort into organizing everything just right. It is important to him to get 30 minutes of family history in every morning before school. He and I worked together to get that figured out. He’s labeled all his notebooks, carefully placed dividers, post-it notes..., organized it all according to school day, cleaned his gym shoes, etc. etc. 

He and Woo apparently had a very fun surf playing around on a board Herbie busted.

Woo bought a new board from Decathlon. It came a day or two later and Herbie successfully encouraged Woo to toss his broken boards and take a few pictures. 

Herbie and Linus are school buddies, having the same start and return times every day of the week. 

Linus has been anxious for a sewing kit to repair a few of his favorite things and we finally got one this week. Saturday he carefully sewed the button back on his suit coat, then made several attempts at fixing his swimsuit, but it was beyond his ability and he ended up very frustrated. I did it for him. He’d clearly done his best, so it was time for me to step in. 

He ended the day on a high note with this collage for his HGP (History and Geography of Portugal) class. 

Our branch joined a new stake a few weeks ago. The stake president, a councilor and a high councilman visited today. They were all three very impressive.

And that’s our week! Hope yours was great!