Monday, 21 June 2010

Orientations and Graduations

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.....

12 comments:

Café Bellini said...

Oh no how embarrassing! Well next year you can bring fish and chips - probably with ketchup, though, not salt and vinegar :-D

MyPerfumeLife said...

That's lovely. I'm so sucked in to all the shows that I come over all weepy every time. They mark passage of time and remind you that the smalls are growing up.

Love your jaffa cake story. I used ot be the one searching for a stale ginger nut if the class Mums come to my house. That's before I got wise to the whole competitive parenting thing. After attending a couple of coffee mornings where there's practically a butler carrying round silver platter of mini-bagels with smoked salmon, iberico ham and other gourmet delights I had to substantially up my game.

conuly said...

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.

Americans actually know it's silly too. It's just that it's one of the last times they'll let us dress them up in stupid outfits and put them on stage to perform! Pretty soon they'll think they're too big for it, so we have to grab those little moments where we can.

Calif Lorna said...

I really like the graduations they have over here. Moving from one stage to another in life is a big deal. Walking out of school after my final A Level was so disappointing.

I'm going to the Sixth Grade graduation this Friday so I know what to expect for my son next year. Then I'll know whether jaffa cakes are appropriate or not!

Home Office Mum said...

I suggest a Victoria Sponge and some cucumber sandwiches for next year ;-)

Potty Mummy said...

We went to Boy #1's end of school closing ceremony on Friday. Have decided that sometimes pomp and circumstance can be a good thing. And that I need to always carry extra tissues to these things...

Glummy Mummy said...

I find it remarkably sweet that little preschoolers can graduate, with diplomas too! I don't blame you, though - I'd probably have brought Jaffa Cakes too! xx

Expat mum said...

May and September are crazy if you have more than one kid in the American school system. Even though my kids all go to the same school and we've been there for a while, they all still have seperate orientations in September. In May they all graduate soemthing or do a concert. I'm there all the time.

I heard my mother telling her sister "They graduate getting off the loo here". ;-)

nappy valley girl said...

Cafe Bellini - what a great idea!

MyPerfumeLife - yes, I remember those SW London playdates well....

Conuly - I agree entirely. Those moments are so fleeting....

Lorna - it's true, it's a good thing to celebrate. At my school we had a prizegiving in the summer and all the parents brough a picnic - no graduation though...

Home Office Mum - hmm, well, better brush up on my cake making skills.....one of my English friends brought marmite sandwiches this year!

PM - agreed re the tissues. It was definitely a teary occasion....

Glummy Mummy - I actually think Jaffa Cakes are pretty cool. But it just looked so lazy....

Expat Mum - love your mum's comment!

A Modern Mother said...

Enjoy the summer! Hopefully you won't have orientations to go to.

nmaha said...

Orientations are pretty popular hear as well. I am generally the odd mom out since I can never make it, hello, they hold the damn thing on weekdays at 12pm. Though, I agree, all that material and touring does make it easier to get stuff done on day one of the term.

I can almost picture you sitting proud at the preschool graduation ceremony. My little one had hers just before I started the blog, so I never wrote about it.

nmaha said...

Sorry I meant 'here' not 'hear'. I am decent at spelling, though it may not show.