It’s official, Claire is attending Aussie Kinder. I can breathe a very, very lucky sigh of relief.
Before coming to Australia the thing I researched most was school for Claire. Preschools or Kinders are community run and while you pay a tuition (less than private schools) it is still a public organization. Since it is community based all are welcome to join centers’ waitlists which can be an extremely frustrating experience. The City of Port Philip website explains it in more detail and has a full list of centers. Priority is handed out in numerous ways, i.e. siblings currently attending, geography, first come-first serve. I’m not really sure how they keep track of it since I also heard that you simply need to keep calling, keep mentioning your child’s name and you’ll find a spot. Families are on waitlists for years before their child is of age to attend. We were on one for 2 months.
Claire was on 3 waitlists before we arrived. We were about to attend some information sessions at private Montessori schools when we got the call. I quickly made an appointment with the school and when we arrived my hair was tousled, the kids still had lunch on their faces and Colin took off like a shot. Although the woman who greeted us was very kind, she definitely sized us up. She probably thought she had made a mistake. Either way, we were in. When Term 2 began (Australian schools run Feb – Dec with 4 terms and vacation between terms) Claire would be there.
So far she likes it. She is trying so hard to make friends and I’ve stopped pressuring her to do so. She’ll get there. Some of the children give her strange looks and I’m hoping the accent (or her speech in general) isn’t throwing them off. The teachers say she is enjoying it and that the other children aren’t bothered by the accent. I’m not so sure since the children in the class definitely give me a second look when I am talking to Claire. The mums have given me a second glance as well. I have yet to hear an American accent at the school and the question of, “How did you get in?” has been posed to me a number of times. Not that it was malicious, because a family waiting years for their son or daughter to attend must be curious as to how someone could get in so quickly. That’s fine. I get it, but I did not ask for any favors from any connected politicians. I try to retort with something like “we entered Term 2 and we were lucky.”
Claire’s backpack also gets a second glance. It’s a cute owl backpack from SkipHop that we bought back in August. However, in Australia the owl is a spitting image of Hoot, an owl puppet that hosts children’s TV… all day long. Kids poke Claire’s backpack saying, “Hoot! Hoot!” and not because they are demonstrating they know the sound an owl makes. Great, now I’m the American mum who lets her children watch TV all day, lets them eat high fructose corn syrup (Australians think every food product from the US has high fructose corn syrup) and asks for favors from connected sources.
Now Claire is learning that Debra rhymes with zebra, pyjamas is spelled with a y and that the Queen’s birthday is in June. Awesome.
Is Colin on the waitlist? Absolutely yes… just in case. Lets hope Aussie Kinder has really accepted us by then.