Friday, November 5, 2010


i know i'm not the only one
to have a painful parting
with my firstborn
the first time i took her to school.
i know
there are plenty of others' tears shed
in like situation all the time.

but all my life
i'd never dreamed that i'd be sending my child
to an old "soviet" school.
here i'd always pictured
that she'd be attending
a good old suburbian american school
like i attended,
with the carpet floors,
the back-to-school nights,
the jumprope on the blacktop,
the school lunches on the plastic trays,
the library with the wooden space savers,
the always-anticipated
art, music and p.e. classes,
the smiling teachers
that give their students hugs,
the reciting of the pledge of allegiance!
and here i was forced
to scramble with milla into that corridor
where we had remove coats
and change shoes
in that stifling crowd of parents and children.
i never got to meet the teacher
or see the classroom,
i only got to hustle her through that doorway,
beyond which lie
what only my imagination could muster up--
visions of the soviet students
who had walked those hallways
on that "historical floor"
(as my mother-in-law called it)
since 1934,
little pioneers
learning about uncle lenin
and the "glory" of the u.s.s.r.
and as she reluctantly tore herself away from me
and had to hurry up those stairs
my eyes welled up
not only with the sadness
of sending my oldest child to school
but with the fear of the unknown
and what lie ahead for her.
i told my mother-in-law
(as she told me not to do such things,
that i'm upsetting my child)
that i may as well
be sending her
into outerspace.


Ann said...

O, Jenn. Your tears are definitely justified. Hang in there.

Amanda said...

I was just thinking of you the other day, and what schools are like. We have a poor school system here in New Orleans, possibly the worst in the country. But it is not as you said. Mostly it worries me about the "unknown". When you have them at home you get to be their guide, their protector, and their cheerleader all the time. I hate to send him (Peter) away. I still have 2 years to hold onto. Anyway... I'm sure she'll be brave. She's blessed with great parents who've trained her well and filled her with love and great memories. This makes it sound like she really is leaving for outerspace. Sorry:) I sure love ya lady! You're amazing!!!

SweetpeainFrance said...

Be brave and have confidence. The future for our children IS an unknown just as another country or culture IS an unknown for many people in the world. You have had the opportunity to be with your child for a long time and now you have the opportunity to see how she grows further. You have had the privilege and benefit of knowing something about America, Russia, France and other European countries cultures and peoples. What a great start you have given your offspring. Indoctrination can happen wherever one is. YOU had an American one and I had an English one. We take what we learn and what we have not learned and out of that we choose further what there is to learn to meet our needs as children and adults. Maybe you have to think of education as a bit of a "pick'n mix'. You might get a soft toffee or a liquorice allsort!
As a teacher, I have always welcomed parents into the classroom to visit and to help but there have been times also when I have known that it would be simpler to keep ALL of them out, and to keep them out of school politics!
You are the archer with the bow and children are arrows; we know not where they will land. We can only HOPE that they will be safe and enjoy a good life.

Julie said...

You have to tell us how the day was for Milla. Did she have fun? Like it? Does she want to go back?

mer said...

Oh Jen I'm feeling for you! Alex turned out well right? :)

Is homeschooling legit there? You are the most perfect parent I know with loads of fabulous educational pearls of wisdom so if you still don't feel comfortable after a while and Milla doesn't love it you could always go that route (that is if they allow it?).

And like Amanda said, she's has fabulous parents and a great upbringing so I'm sure you have nothing to fear.

Shannon said...

Yikes. I can't imagine. And I thought sending my kids to school in China was scary... but at least they are at an "international" school (a supposedly international school anyway). They have some western teachers and some Chinese teachers and follow a mostly Canadian curriculum with quite a bit of history about China and lessons on Chinese culture when there a holidays - so no US history, no 50 nifty United States but at least Canada is kind of close....

Amy said...

Oh jen, I can't even imagine what it would have been like. Hard. You are right. Not what you would have imagined sending your babies off to. unknown is scary. love ya