Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.. but I do anyway because it's what I do.

First off.. this school year is already way easier. For the past 2 years I lugged 2 children on several public buses to get to and from preschool (the first year involving a stroller with O2 tank attached.. crowded buses everyday, you get the idea) and this year is already way easier.
Since Natalie isn't going to pre-k this year (still sad about that..but what can ya do) it lets us just take a 2 block walk to James' school. That's it. Just a 2 block walk and not a 2 block walk to a bus stop, then another block walk to the second bus, followed by a 2 block walk to the school and then rinse repeat.
This is so easy.
The only thing I was annoyed about yesterday was how the teacher was supposed to be outside holding a sign for James' class so they could line up for the first few days. The kids and I searched high and low and never found the line (it really was chaotic). So this morning, we did that again and since we couldn't find her, we stood by the doors super close to his classroom and I thought "heck, I'll just walk him in myself". We go in and then here comes his class in a full straight line coming from the front of the school. Sigh.
She definitely wasn't there yesterday. Either she changed spots today or I literally have zero sense of direction. I seem to have trouble finding my way anywhere I go.. literally, I have the brain of a cow when I'm in or around a new building. Actually, that's insulting to cows.
But, I do know that we definitely didn't see his class anywhere outside yesterday. I am 100% sure.

James' first day went really well. He says he already made a new friend and that he really likes his school so far. He loved the story that the teacher read to the class, too.. he kept talking about it. Something about a bucket being full when you're good but it's empty when you're not. Hardcore life lessons there.
He was so excited when he woke up and then like every child out there, this morning he didn't want to go because he was too tired. You can tell he's trying hard to grasp this new transition of full day kindergarten because he's acting up a lot more at home. I sort of expected that. He did the same thing for both years of preschool and then within a week or so he was a totally different kid. A very well-behaved kid. My mom had to babysit for an hour or so last night, which was at the end of the school day, and James gave her such a hard time! He had a full blown tantrum- something I haven't seen in a long long time. That exhausted the heck out of him for today, I'm sure.

Here are 2 photos from my phone that I managed to snap really fast yesterday..
 The little boy next to him with the Broncos jersey I believe is his new BFF. 
I grabbed this one right before we went in for the first day of school. He was able to ride his scooter to school, which you can see, made him a happy guy.


So far, James' school seems nice. I really love the layout of his classroom and really does remind me a whole lot of his preschool. But that's all I can really compare it to because I never went to kindergarten when I was his age. Actually, I went straight into 1st grade and boy, let me tell you about anxiety. I cried and cried for the first week. And I wasn't totally ready and started to fail a few subjects at first. But then things evened out right before the middle of the year and I ended up doing really well. But boy..did I cry. I remember that. James.. nope..not James. He gave me a kiss (he says, "gimme a kiss") and ran to meet his new friends. Short and sweet. 
I started to cry once I left. 

******

I love that the school is so close by. I do not like our neighborhood at all. It's changing. It's not changing for the good either. I would be a really upset person if we owned property here that's for sure. 
It's the quality of people taking over and the crime is going way up. We moved to this apartment in April of 2010 and I can tell that things are not looking good. The people coming here have zero sense of caring about their neighborhood and let me just put this word out there- it's getting ghetto. 
I grew up in a ghetto so I know what it's like. 
But this doesn't mean that this neighborhood is hopeless, obviously. Neighborhoods go through phases and can change. We also live in a very crowded area and my family is no better than anyone else's ..or less deserving of great schooling. We also live in a neighborhood with many families who don't understand English and that is tough when your children want to play with other children..but many of those kids don't understand what James and Natalie are saying to them. It sucks. 
I've tried teaching James and Natalie basic "hello" and "I want to play with you" statements in Spanish but my kids are hardheads. Doesn't mean I won't keep trying. Luckily, James is in the English speaking class so that will help a whole lot. I almost put him in the bi-lingual class (on purpose) so he could learn Spanish but Spanish is primarily spoken. 
Look, I get it... my family can't be choosers when we're beggers. We don't have the right to judge or feel superior to anything or anyone. You get what you get when you live where you've decided to live. Granted, when you're kind of poor you don't have many options. And I know for sure that James' school has a mixture of children who come from all sorts of income levels. I really don't even care about that. It is a community school where I know for a fact that many children go there because it's close by and not because the parents prefer them there. It is an underperforming school and I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me. I mean c'mon, I'm supposed to look out for these things. I doubt James (or Natalie) will be there past a year (or less) from now so the low test scores really won't mean much for us. I mean, the test scores are so low compared to the state average that I gasped. For example, there's pretty much zero emphasis with science past 3rd grade. That's sad. I don't like to use greatschools.net for everything because it's only one resource and it can be bias. Their rating is a 2 out of 10 but what I did like was how the reviews from parents were good. So, you have to sort of decide for yourself. 

I'm happy that James is in his local school. Once he leaves that school, I worry for the students that stay there, though. And with the HUMUNGOUS budget cuts for this new school year I'm more scared. But at the same time, I have to look out for James and Natalie and I can't worry too much (but I still do). 
We know our days are numbered in our small 2 bedroom apartment. We know that. We're looking at options and figuring out ways to afford something else soon. We could go month-to-month here and look or sign our new 6 month lease and move next summer. It all depends on what works best. We've though about the idea of moving in with my mom and stepdad to combine incomes to rent a whole house. That would give us even more options for education! And it would be really affordable for my family.. actually, we'd save money. But then we're looking at living with 2 other people. A lot of families are doing that these days and it's a great idea. 
We're deciding.. carefully thinking and planning. It's all we can do. No matter how poor my family is doesn't mean we can't "one up" it. Luckily, we can always try to see ahead and plan accordingly. We refuse to accept the bottom of anything which is very bittersweet. Great because you keep those eyes and ears open for opportunity if you want to change things for the better. Not so great, because we have to work even harder and it feels like there are extra obstacles. It's kind of how this country is ran now.. Maybe that's just in my head.. I dunno.
But for now, James will keep going to his local school and whatever changes happen (and if they do) we'll plan things the best we can. There really isn't much more you can do. 

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