Thursday, September 22, 2011

School chaos

Well, it's September, which means we are full on into the new school year. That's about as chaotic as you might imagine (with the getting up early and having homework to do again), but that's not the chaos I'm really experiencing right now.

Here's the "problem": the school that the girls currently attend is a pre-prep school, which means (for those of you watching from the States) it only runs from Reception through Year 2. Devil has just started Year 2. And since it now seems kind of likely that we may be here a bit longer then originally anticipated, it's come to my attention that perhaps I'd better start thinking about where she might go for school next year.

In my experience, the British are a bit tightly wound when it comes to where they send their children to school. And by a bit tightly wound, I point you to a timeless quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" referencing coal and diamonds as an accurate description. This may be more prevalent amongst parents whose children attend private schools, but as early as last fall, I was hearing discussion about what schools people were considering for Year 3.

Now, as the product of the American public school system, I am completely out of the loop when it comes to "appropriate" schools for the girls. Most of the names of the super high powered ones I hear tossed around are boys-only, which makes me both relieved and irritated at the same time. Relived in that we don't need to even both considering them and irritated that there don't seem to be any comparable schools for girls that get talked up. Anyway...

We have only a few requirements for the next school: coed, accessible by public transportation (or school bus service), not an academic pressure cooker. Devil is a bright kid, but she's also a bit of an orchid in that she hates hates hates being wrong. She does not need to be in a situation where she is going to struggle or be at the bottom of her class. She also doesn't need to be put in a situation where she has to undergo a serious, intense testing process to get in to a school - my prediciton is that she would completely lose her shit in that sort of a scenario, and that wouldn't be good at all. So we're looking for a school that is good academically but not at the expense of everything else.

I've been to visit two so far: one that was ok, and one that I really liked alot. But it is a bit like stepping into Hogwarts - there are school houses, and house points and prefects! I was used to the uniform idea already, but the idea of prefects has taken the culture shock to a whole new level. I had to keep myself from giggling out loud everytime I glimpsed my (lovely, polite, personable, 12-year old boy!) tour guide's prefect badge yesterday. The giggle factor was further enhanced by his being American...

Two or three more school visits in the next few weeks, then the preregistering and assessments and other stuff can begin. That plus the amount of work that Year 2 is getting piled on them is going to make for a crazy autumn term! But hopefully we'll come out on the other side with a kid ready to go off to Year 3 in a place she loves. Ideally with a mother who has not gone completely around the bend as well. But that might be too much to ask!

Monday, September 5, 2011

An end

Today was the official Last Day of Summer in our household, at least as far as the girls and I are concerned. Devil starts school tomorrow, Boo starts on Thursday, and I go back to work next week.

We had a lovely trip back to the States, despite the intrusion of hurricanes and the like. The whole time we were driving from Vermont to Maine, I was thinking "We're heading towards the coast when there's a hurricane heading north?" But it turned out to be quite a good idea - we got some wind and some rain in southeastern Maine, but southern Vermont got absolutely hammered. I can't say I'm sorry that we missed out on that, although the pictures I've seen of the area are unbelievable.

But after two plus weeks of New England humidity, we arrived back in Great Britain to discover that in that short period of time, autumn has made it's initial appearance. The back garden was covered with dead, brown leaves from the chestnut tree, and there's a definite nip in the air. And there are conkers.

First conkers

Today is also the last day of my third decade - my 39th birthday is tomorrow, and my fourtieth year is starting. Turning 30 was something of a landmark for me, but 40 is coming on full speed ahead and it doesn't seem like such a big deal, at least not numerically speaking. I have big plans for my fortieth year: I'm hopefully going to run my second marathon, maybe head over to Europe for some cycling with my other half next summer. I'm also taking a flyer on an obsession a hobby and starting my own business, which I plan to have up and running in the next month or so. There's a lot ahead, and I'm looking forward to it.

Even if this summer is over...