Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mi Ani? and being invited to see the answer

I'm writing this with a melting popsicle clenched between my teeth. Dang, it's hot.

This past week flew by, with me continually fretting over my upcoming deadlines. But as worried as I was, the calendar still insisted on pausing on Tuesday. When Tuesday finally turned up, I understood why. Tuesday was Mi Ani? (who am I?) day at the Eldest's kindergarten, a sort of graduation day.

The first sign that Tuesday was coming were the tickets, required for entry to the ceremony.

I was issued mine, and sternly warned to keep them safe. I promised that I would, and enlisted the Eldest's help in outfit design for the ceremony. One slightly outrageous suggestion later (the Eldest has far more avant garde fashion that I do), I warned the Eldest that our habitual lateness did not bode well for the 8 am ceremony, and he made himself a reminder:

Nudged by the sign, hurray on Tuesday it was - and we were even on time. The kindergarteners showed their parents a portfolio of their work, helped their parents tour the classroom and the exhibit of the year's photos. We davened together, watched a video assembled by the teachers, and admired the children doing a song and dance number. The Eldest wore a solemn, slightly worried look during the dance, that I could empathise with entirely.

And, of course, we ate cake. Some of it allergy friendly, some of it not, and I'm grateful and extremely aware of the thoughtfulness of the non-allergy mum who slipped her very pregnant self into the school kitchen to bake a cake for the Eldest and his ilk. (The Man later frosted the cake. Bright green.) The head of the school positioned herself, knife in hand, in front of the allergy-friendly cake, and served the allergy kids first - and safely. Replete with Kermit frosting, the Eldest and I read the poems he'd copied down, admired his artwork (he wants to be an art teacher when he grows up, he tells me, as well as a Red Sox player), and talked about the science experiments that he'd observed. We flipped madly through the giant book of his work, lingering over his handmade siddur, and admiring happily the kiddush cup he'd made.

The Eldest's classroom is a marvellous one, full of the kids' artwork and writing, much of produced with a quirky kid-humor that often escapes me. Happily, the Eldest was there to translate. But there was one sign that needed no translation. The children had traipsed their way through an imaginary Sinai desert, tracing the path taken by the Israelites en route to Sinai and the gift of the Ten Commandments. Their path concluded here:

When I think about the variety of this classroom, whether religious, immunological or philosophical, I have to think that this is a group that is learning to live as a community. Hrrae for them, as the Eldest would say. It's been a busy, challenging year for children and families, but a strong and successful one. Along the way, the kids have not only learned who they are (mi ani?), but who they are as a group (mi anu?). And I like what I see.

On our thoughtful way home, the Eldest contemplated the idea of summer vacation. Can I go back to my school when summer vacation is over? he asked me. I had told him that the first year was an experiment, to see if the school would suit us as a family, and suit him, as a kid. I reminded him of this. I think the experiment worked, I told him solemnly. Yes, you can have another year of school there after the summer is over. Behind me in the car, the Eldest looked pleased.
A pair of news items that popped up over the past week or so:
from the Hema-Blog, an Australian lawsuit over a child with hemophilia. And from Newsweek,food allergies as a diagnosis requiring a plea. Intriguing, both of them.
Neither things I would have said, written or chosen to do, but I do understand much of what they say..


dykewife said...

congratulations to eldest for a successful school year under his belt. i'm glad that it all worked out so well for him and the other kids with allergies and needs beyond the usual bandaids and boo-boo kisses. that is so awesome that the school isn't just accommodating and tolerant but that they're embracing.

mama o' the matrices said...

hear, hear!

I love the way you put it - "needs beyond the usual bandaids and boo-boo kisses" - wonderfully put, dw!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I know there have been a lot of ups and downs this year..... but what a finish! It sounds like he is walking away from this year with a powerful sense of self, and a powerful sense of belonging. Kudos all around... to the school, to the Eldest, and to the mommy!!

Alison L.