Day 1 of Year 1

What is the first thing you do on the first day of school? (Well technically it is not Bianca's very first day of school (that was Year zero for Bianca), but it was the first day of Year 1 for her).

You give your new teacher an apple. A red one. The biggest one you could see on the pile of apples at the store. Because you can't just take any apple you see, choosing an apple for your teacher is a big important job.

Okay, so perhaps this isn't really the first thing you do on your first day of the new school year, you have to let your mom take lots and lots of photos. "But why Mommy?" "So that you can remember, you know, when you are 30 years old and can't remember what you looked like when you were in Year 1" and so you stand where your mom wants you to stand and you smile when she tells you to smile. And you picture your dad slipping on a banana and bumping his head against the wall (because that's what your mom tells you when she tries to get you to smile).

And finally you join your friends...

Bianca had a great first day at school. She is quite disappointed that her very best friend is not in her class, but I told her she could still play with her friend when it is lunch time and we could still organise play dates. And she does have other friends in her class too. I think Bianca is really happy to be back and certainly for the past 6 weeks she's been asking when school would start again. This morning I wrote her a little note and I put it in her lunch box. She really liked it and asked that I do it every day (okay I'll have to go look in the garage in amongst all the unpacked boxes if I can find where I packed my spare creativity, because I think I might just need it, it is probably in the same box where I packed my motivation to get through all the unpacked boxes) :-).

And of course I'll have to get used to "so what did you do today Bianca?" "I forgot" again. That's the part that I still find the hardest about school, having to let go and let the teacher be there for her and I need to take a step back. For a long time I was there, every single step of the way, because when Bianca was diagnosed she wasn't able to go to daycare and so I was the one (as well as our Au Pairs) who did all these activities with her, and so when she started school last year in July I really struggled with the whole "I forgot" kind of answer. Thankfully I built a really good relationship with her teacher and I managed to get good feedback. But it's hard to let go, although I will never want to take this away from her.

Having her in school, that is like a dream come true for us. It means that we can incorporate "normal" into our lives. Fair enough, the leukemia is never far behind and there are always those little reminders, like when I typed up some information for Bianca's new teacher about wanting to know when Bianca falls, warning her that there could be steroid side-effects, listing the days where Bianca will need to be at hospital and won't be at school and asking the teacher to discuss concerns (because the reality is that sometimes there could be long-term effects as a result of the chemo). And I'm the only parent who sends hand gel with my kid to school. So yes, there are reminders. But certainly we feel so incredibly blessed when we see her so happy at school, when she picks up a book and reads us a story, when she hugs her friend really tight to say goodbye, when her face lights up each morning knowing that she'll go to school.

We feel so blessed that we found such a wonderful school for Bianca with such wonderfully supportive staff. In 2006 Oteha Valley School received an OECD award for its learning environments, and it has been included in an international compendium of exemplary educational facilities. An interesting aspect of Bianca's class is that she has some Year 2 children in her class and I think that will really give her a chance to extend her learning.

I think this is going to be a very exciting year!


superrelish said...

You are right, dealing with the 'I forgot' story is challenging. Fortunately it seems to improve a little with age. By the time my kids are in secondary school they may actually remember what they did during the day, although by then they will be too sullen to respond! Enjoy the normalcy.

Anonymous said...

Just to say the two of you are wonderful parents. Bianca is lucky to have you. I am exited about her going to school as well. She has had lots of prayers. All the best for the years ahead, i know it will go well. Much love Verity.