Friday, September 26, 2008

Sources of Joy

Emma has been going to the kindergarten for two weeks now and so far, seems to have taken to it like a fish to water.

She gradually went from spending 30 minutes to an exceptional 5 hours yesterday (9am to 2pm including lunch and a nap) after she had caught the flu, got better and passed it on to me. I desperately needed some extra sleep.

She is the youngest of the sunshine group (there are three different age groups) and their little liebling (darling). Melanie, the group teacher and the leiterin (head) are amazed at how calmly she observes other children cry as their parents leave. I give her a kiss and we wave "ciao ciao" and off I go. They even asked me for the "recipe" for an "Emma"!
Ok, she is good, but they are still in the honeymoon phase. At home, she is much more "assertive", especially when it comes to brushing her teeth or when she is unable to achieve something she is trying to do, like to open a can - then watch the sparks fly!

I must admit though, she has always been very sociable. After she was six months old, I regularly left her with her tata yéyé (my sis-in-law), her Gogo (my mum), her baba Aka (her adopted gran) and Bruno (adopted granpa), for whole afternoons at a time. She also actively participated in lunches with my girlfriends in Geneva (Sev, Nicole, Tania, Léo, Nora...) and weekly ice-creams with Baccarha. She came to the hairdressers with me, was breastfed at the dentists while (yes, while) the hygienist was cleaning my teeth (a first for the hygienist she told me afterwards) and was regularly involved in any other social activity I participated in before her bedtime. (Another benefit of not having been in Vienna this whole time - who knows? she might have become a hermit like me!)
At school, for now, she only goes so far as showing staunch determination when retrieving her dummy, water bottle or a toy from another little one's paws.

Emma is also the only one in the sunshine group who does not yet know how to walk. So she crawls enthusiastically from "corner" to "corner" (the tree corner, where they read stories, the play corner, the meal corner, the nap corner, the cooking corner...) often pausing to extend a new-found toy to the teacher or to a "colleague" as we have come to call them.

Apparently, Emma's new non-spill water bottle (with built in straw so you don't need to tip it) is a hit among her class mates! (thanks for the reco' Lind.)
Steph and I also went to our first Elternabend** (parent-teacher meeting all in German!) on Wednesday. It made me feel so grown-up!

We learned that the three pillars of her "school", as we call it, are hygiene, routine and independence.
Kids are taught to wash their hands when coming in and before meals which always take place sitting down at the table be it for a snack or lunch.
Naps are preceded by relaxing music and play is adapted to children's biorhythms and is gradually calmer as lunch time then nap time approach.
We were told about the leiterin's wish to put a stronger emphasis on musical activities and the calendar system for each group, where we can find out about planned events (excursions and outings mainly for the over 3 year-olds) and unplanned ones like a bout of Kopfläuse (lice) for example.
We also learned that
Emma is good at putting things in boxes but did not wish to participate in the baking of cookies and that she responded to "Viens!" following many unsuccessful "Komm!".

Oh-oh, I am definitely going to have to learn German.

Anyhow, Steph and I are very happy about how things are going. Emma seems to agree. Let's hope it continues this way so we can both (Emma and I) grow independently and I can have something more interesting to tell Steph when he gets back from work than what I read on the Internet or what novelty Emma came up with (not that she's not interesting, but you know what I mean).

I read a quote from a Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Gilbert on another Expat mum's blog (Did I Sign Up For This? An Expat Mom's Life). It really echoed in me:

"Parents tell me all the time that: 'My child is my greatest source of joy'," he said.
"My reply is that: 'Yes, when you have one source of joy, it's bound to be your greatest'.

So here's to finding other sources of joy.

**A parte on the parent-teacher meeting dress code: Contrarily to Singapore, there were no Gucci handbags, Todds shoes or Dior sunglasses to be seen. This was more like big woolly sweaters, casual shoes and jeans. Steph was among the most formal having come straight from the office. Phew! what a relief! Honestly, how can you manage the In Style look with a toddler?)

Emma's first ever drawing. Looks like Arabic to me, no?


J. said...

She sounds like a dream wrapped in a baby package! My little one loves to scream. And Scream. Luckily, he only does this from 1 in the afternoon to 6 at night. Yuppers. I'm a lucky girl.

Sandra said...

oh, no! Emma's also taken to screaming after her nap. Is this some must-do toddler thing?
I have no doubt that as soon as she gets comfy at school she'll make herself heard.
So what does Ol do in the mornings?