Americans love orientations. Since we've been here, we've had: preschool orientation, two separate elementary school orientations (for next term) and now, last week, two summer camp orientations, one for each boy. In the summer there will be schoolbus orientation. I've just seen my neighbour on the way to her son's high school orientation......
The Doctor had two full days of orientation when he started work last year. This involved an address /pep talk from the chief executive of the hospital (who gives the same speech every week on a Monday) plus several hours of lectures about the hospital culture. He laughs about it because, despite working in about 10 different NHS hospitals in the UK and at one point changing jobs every six months as a junior doctor, he never once had any kind of orientation and was just supposed to turn up and get on with it.
But, although they can be time-consuming, I've grown to like the orientations for the children. It is, after all, quite comforting to know where your children are going to be taught next year, meet the teachers and read through a set of guidelines with the other parents, even if you could have read it all in the handbook. Camp orientation mainly consisted of filling out forms, but at least you could discuss with the other parents the ins and outs of whether boys should wear their swimming trunks all day with or without underwear (the consensus being without). It does make you feel much more comfortable about turning up on the first day of school or nursery (something which always makes me feel nervous even if the Littleboys are oblivious).
Anyway, last Friday school finished for the summer with a flourish - the preschool graduation day. Again, if you'd told me a year ago my child would have been 'graduating' and receiving a rolled up piece of paper as their 'diploma' from preschool I probably would have guffawed. But it was an incredibly sweet occasion.
All the parents gathered in the preschool garden and watched as each class trooped out in turn and performed a series of songs. Littleboy 2 for some reason refused to join in with the songs (despite the fact that he sings them all day long at home) and sat looking mutinous while the little girls next to him sang and danced as if auditioning for 42nd street. Littleboy1, however, who had denied until the previous evening that he was even DOING a show, performed beautifully, knowing all the words and actions to five different songs. I have never been quite so proud of him.
We had all been asked to bring something to eat at the 'graduation picnic' after the show and told that it would be good if it was something that reflected our heritage. The picnic being at 10.30am, I thought that a couple of packets of Jaffa Cakes would do, fulfilling the British part of the bargain. Until, that is, we turned up to find parents bearing huge covered dishes full of salads, tandoori chicken, sushi, samosas and other delicious treats - not to mention the homemade cakes and cookies. One father was even grilling hotdogs (which the boys dived on with cries of delight). So, once again, we let the side down. Another lesson learned for next year.
Anyway, school's out and there are two weeks before camp starts. Two hot weeks in which I need both to finish a feature and entertain the Littleboys. If only there were orientations on how to be a working-from-home Mother.....