Monday, September 10, 2012

Pick Up the Pace

We're in our 3rd week of Kindergarten with Zoe and so far it's been a learning experience for all of us.

For me, this has been quite the adjustment - turning my daughter over to people I do not know, who have no history with us as a family, for seven hours a day/5 days a week. I miss spending more time with Zoe and it's hitting me especially hard since we're in a new city/state and I know very few people. It's an adjustment, for sure - but I recognize how good this is for all of us.

For Zoe, she's learning to stick to a schedule. She's waking up early and getting ready and focusing on being on time. She's memorized her student number, buys her own lunch and turns in her daily work folder. She's making friends, learning so much and is a little chatterbox when I pick her up.

Pick up is a ordeal. Parents start lining up along the curb well over 30 minutes before school is let out. One teacher signals to the others what student is being picked up and the children are escorted to various points along the curb to their parents vehicles. Its not a perfect process, but it runs fairly smoothly. Zoe has learned to put her own seatbelt harness on and connect it (something I've always insisted on doing, to confirm its done correctly). Last week, when I was still attempting to connect Zoe's belt, a teacher informed me that her four year old knew how to attach their belt. I ignored that the teacher was comparing her kid to mine (in front of Zoe) and took it as an opportunity to teach Zoe to be more self sufficient. It was difficult for me (given our accident) to not take full responsibility for Zoe car seat safety, but I accepted that I couldn't do this forever and Daniel and I worked with Zoe.

As the days have gone by, I've watched this same teacher act annoyed at how slow Zoe moved. Even as Zoe giggled out of nervousness, but went as fast as she could and repeated "Almost. I almost have it!" to let us all know she was focused on her task. The teacher motioned with her arm for Zoe to hurry up, waved me along and then looked at me in disapproval when I waited on Zoe to finish before moving forward.

So the next day, I asked this teacher what I should do if Zoe isn't moving quickly enough. "Well, you could drive forward, out of the way, and help her if you need to. As long as the chest clip is connected, she's OK." First of all, no. Just connecting the chest clip is not OK. It is ineffective in keeping your child safe to just secure one portion of the THREE point safety harness. I took what she said with a grain of salt and encouraged Zoe to keep practicing. Zoe got faster and we ended last week on a high note.

Today at pick up, Zoe was moving slower than usual. A 10 second task was taking 20 seconds. I was doing my best to encourage her, but she'd tangled up the straps. The same teacher stood there watching Zoe and said "We need to keep this moving!" She motioned hurriedly for us to move along and a parent behind me honked. Zoe was visibly frazzled and I was angry at the situation. I pulled forward, with Zoe not secure and then we worked together to fix the problem. Another (maybe the same) parent honked at me, he then cut me off and waved his arm at us. Zoe asked if everyone was mad at her. She asked if I was mad at her.

I was not mad at my daughter. I was mad at the Dad who was driving irresponsibly in the pick up area, who was in such a big hurry that no one else mattered. I was mad at the drivers who were going well over 45 miles/hour in a 20 and then 30mph zone. I was mad at that teacher who had been rushing me and Zoe for the last few weeks, who was encouraging me to drive without Zoe being safe. I was mad at the school for not asking the teachers to value car seat safety. I was mad at myself for wimping out and driving when it stood against what I believed in and know to be wrong.

Admittedly, I am more sensitive to all of this than some people and because of that, Zoe is. We've been rushed before and have forgotten to buckle Zoe in, only to have her scream or cry because she's been taught that is not safe. I don't regret that one bit because for all the negatives our accident brought us, it taught my family to slow down and take the time to wear your seatbelt correctly, because they work. We know all too well how important a seat belt is.

So, I called the school principal and he expressed sincere interest in what I had to say and was very supportive. He said he would talk to all of the teachers that are involved in pick up and relay that they need to be more understanding of the kindergarten students who might need more time to get in their seats. He said nothing was more important than the students safety and he acknowledged that it must be frustrating to feel like something so important as car seat safety was being rushed and belittled. He thanked me for calling and let me know that because of some parents erratic driving, the police would be present during after school hours to monitor driving.

I'm a little embarrassed to be calling the school with complaints, but I also know I did the right thing for us. I'm trusting these people with one of the most important things in my life and I need to know that they're making my child's safety a priority.