Friday, October 24, 2014

School routines, speaking English, and current ages...

We’ve settled into a nice routine now with Andrew starting school.  I was so worried about how we’d (me, mostly - let’s be honest!) adjust to the new schedule, but it’s working out nicely.  Today was a Pro-D Day and admittedly it was nice not having to go on a whirlwind of getting everyone ready and out the door by 8:30, but it’s really not so bad doing the drop off and pick up.  And the girls absolutely LOVE that the first 10-15 minutes of the school day is ‘family reading time’, which means they get to play and feel like they’re a part of the class every morning.  They have taken to it so well that they are often the first ones in the door in the morning, with big smiles, waves, and enthusiastic, ‘Hi!’s’ for the teacher.

The little girls in the class have taken to the babies and love to hug them, try to pick them up, and yesterday were delighted when Margaret gave them kisses.  Margaret and Emily of course lap up the attention from all their new friends!  Andrew enjoys that we stay so I can read him a story or two, and a few of his friends sometimes sit with us and we chat.  It’s nice to have that connection with the kids and to feel like we’re a part of a little community there.

One issue I’m finding that holds us back a little bit is the language barrier between us and so many of the other parents and kids in Andrew’s class.  We are the vast minority having English as our first language, and I’ve discovered that the majority of children in Andrew’s class in particular speak very little English, some of the kids don’t speak English at all.  This is obviously hardest on the teacher, but I’m finding it prevents us from socializing in the way I’d hoped we would easily do once Andrew started school.  I feel like this could lead people to the word ‘racism’, but it’s not about that at all.  I’ve lived in Burnaby for the majority of the 18 years I’ve been on the mainland, and as an English speaking caucasian born and raised in BC, I don’t think it would make sense that I’d choose to live in Burnaby if I was racist!  It’s definitely a multi-cultural city, and for the most part I’m fine with that.  I don’t care what culture a person is from, my issue is with language.  I feel it would benefit everyone if people living here spoke enough English to carry on a conversation without it being a struggle, or without it being obvious that there’s a complete inability to understand each other.  I’m not saying I haven’t been able to converse with anyone at the school whether from here or from somewhere else, but I can’t deny that it’s an obvious issue.  And it is for Andrew, too, because there are kids he just can’t chat with because they can’t understand each other.  It’s great that the kids are learning English now that they’re in school, but I have to admit that it DOES bother me when I hear the parents speaking nothing but their native languages as I don’t feel it promotes getting the children learning the language we speak here.  Practice is key - I can only imagine how challenging it is to learn a new language, I’m not saying it’s easy or that their native language should never be spoken, but if the kids don’t hear English outside of the classroom I don’t see how they’re going to learn it well.  That’s my rant on the subject...Andrew’s teacher did say that he speaks very eloquently (he really does have a great vocabulary and if you had a conversation you’d know what she means...He seriously is a little old man and she picked up on that the first day she met him!)  I think he can be a help with promoting language because he’s so outspoken and not afraid to strike up a conversation with anyone.  But I do admittedly feel a tad frustrated that ultimately he’s being a bit held back by it.

Anyway…

Our current routine tends to be this:  I get up around 10 to 7, get myself ready for the day (or at least partially), make coffee, get a little snack for the kids (yogurt, cheese, a few crackers, something just to tide them over for a few) then I go finish getting ready, make all the beds, pick out clothes for the kids.  I usually try to feed them breakfast before dressing them (our go to is mush and some banana each but sometimes we have toast or cereal, bagel with cheese).  Once everyone has eaten I get the girls dressed and get Andrew to dress himself (athough I sometimes help or he’ll take forever because he doesn’t really want to get ready).  The kids usually watch some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I get us ready to go.  Or something on Netflix.  Andrew watches more than the girls do, they tend to be running around and playing and asking for juice (‘My some juicy cup!’ is Emily’s latest), or racing up the stairs and bugging at the gate while I get ready….

Last week I decided to dismantle the gate at the bottom of the stairs.  We are just so sick of having 3 gates and want rid of THEM ALL, but we need the one leading to the kitchen for times when I can’t deal with the girls in there with me, and we need the one at the top of the stairs to keep the girls from going downstairs in the night.  Those gates will likely be up for another 6 months or so is my guess, but not having one at the bottom of the stairs has been glorious.  No more feeling like we’re high jumping to get to the bottom of the stairs (we took to stepping over it rather than open and close it every freaking time…!!!)  BUT the one down side to no gate there is that the girls like to follow me upstairs, and hang out bugging at me while I try to get ready!  They beat at the gate and end up fighting with each other, and once Margaret tumbled down 3 stairs.  It’s a bit of a concern but for the most part they do so well with not getting into mischief and - knock on wood - but there have been no falls on the stairs where anyone has actually gotten hurt.

I just realized I strayed from ‘what our current routine is’, but whatever...

I love the age of 2!  It’s challenging in its own ways for sure, but it’s so much better than all the time before this, in my opinion.  The girls talk so much, they understand an absolute ton, you can’t reason with them completely obviously but definitely more than ever before.  They jabber away and talk to each other, it’s SO CUTE listening to them talk to each other!  And something I find fascinating about twins is how they play together.  Kids their age will usually play AROUND each other but not actually TOGETHER yet, or at least not in my experience watching kids at that stage, and thinking back to how Andrew was.  The other day the girls found a little wooden toy car and sat opposite each other on the kitchen floor.  The one with the car would say, ‘Set, goooo!’ and push the car to the other girl, she’d giggle and then do the same back.  Often times they will chase each other around laughing hysterically.  It’s just super cute, and heart-warming knowing they have a built in play mate.  People always told me how great it would be once they could be ‘friends’ and start playing together, and it’s happening.  Do they fight and hurt each other and scream at each other and cry because sister stole her toy and want to do completely separate things?  Yes, they do all of that, too!  But the moments when they’re content with each other and I get to witness the bond they have - those moments are indescribable.

Of course I love the age of almost-6 as well.  Andrew is so inquisitive and has so many interesting thoughts and ideas to share.  Something I really love about him is how loving and genuine he is.  On Tuesday after school I made a special treat of hot chocolate and put out some cookies and cut up strawberries and various treats as the girls and I had done a grocery shop before picking Andrew up that day.  The girls had finished up their few sips of hot chocolate that I gave them, and took their bowl of strawberries to the living room to watch Mickey Mouse (I do limit their intake, but it’s their latest obsession, especially Margaret!)  So Andrew and I had a little bit of mommy/son time sitting at the table and he said, ‘You know what, Mommy?’  I said, ‘What?’  He said, ‘I don’t just think but I KNOW that you are THE BEST Mommy in the WHOLE WORLD because of this party you’ve done for me for after school and for all the nice things you do!’  Such a sweet moment.  He also out of the blue last week told me that he loves the baby blanket I made him.  I did a big cross-stitch blanket for him before he was born, he rarely uses it now so I don’t even know what made him think of it.  But he said it was one of his most favourite things in the whole world because I made it for him and that meant that it was full of love.  He really has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.

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