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We went on a weeklong vacation over the Labor Day weekend, driving through Southern Illinois and and my birth- and growing-up place Carbondale on the way. While we were there it occurred to me that I should visit my father's grave.

Since Thomas Chun Woo is named (in the Anglo part of his name) after my father, I took a couple of pictures of him by the gravestone to send to my mother. After the second, he bent down on the other side of the stone. I went forward to hear him saying gently, "Daddy, can you hear me?"

The nature of the Chun man's Kindergarten

Well, we missed last Wednesday night's Kindergarten informaiton night, as we were then starting on a week's vacation trip. But when I enquired yesterday, I learned that there were indeed handouts, and I got them (along with Chun Woo's homework folder, a novelty this week, exercises due this morning). Now I understand more about things I found mysterious in the structures of the Kindergarten.

They use the Tools of the Mind curriculum that focuses on self-regulation, at least initially. So they introduce lots and lots of rule-structures for children to regulate themselves toward.

It had already been obvious that the Chunster's teacher had a general Bathroom Thing rather than necessarily taking a scunnerat Chun Woo, and that made a big difference. And now I know that it fits deliberately into the curriculum. Also, another parent tells me that her sources say Mrs. J is Really Nice.

The Chun man's greatest gift may be self-regulation-- intertwined with and tied with compassion. So this isn't the curriculum he needs. But that's okay. We never imagined that a public school classroom should be optimized for him or for any one child. I think that the more academic approach of Kindercare was better for him, but then he had it and is well-grounded and able to continue to dree his own wyrd so long as he's not prevented.

However, we will apply for Excel Academy for next year, and then be able to choose. They specialize in permitting kids to work on the levels that are best for them.

I love public schooling and I want to support public schools. And I'm not concerned about Chun Woo for this year. I think. But I don't think I can bear to see him marginalized by brightness or wingclipped to make it more manageable.

Friday to Monday

Thursday Chun Woo brought home his "Friday folder," containing announcements for parents to read.

In it was a form I filled in at the office desk, when I found out that a note to his teacher was not the appropriate protocol. It seemed that I had not done the form correctly so that it was being returned to me. It was my remarking that the school seemed to take a convent approach to informing parents that led to a tremendous dispute with Sheeyun.

Who didn't after all take Chun Woo to school this morning, despite the obvious comparative advantage of finding communicating with the school simple and straightforward, and despite an assertion last Tuesday that my arranging for the Chun man to do morning care at Kindercare was a waste of money as he would gladly do the school thing when i can't.

It is now generally recognized that he was replete with excrement.

Anyway, I was baffled in trying to figure out how to get a signature from Mrs. J as the form required. Did I need an ambassador? Was there another form? So when I walked t'Chun to school we stopped in at the front desk and I asked "Is there some special time or way I'm supposed to ask Mrs. J to sign this?"

It turned out that she oughtn't to have bunged the form back to us. She should have signed it and passed it on to the office.

In cheerier news, as Mrs. J let the children into the classroom she stroked Chun Woo's head and said something, and it looked friendly. Then I realized that she was noting his new haircut, which she said was handsome. So that's hopefuller.

Beyond skittish

On Tuesday I sent the Chun man's teacher a note indicating that he was having shyness problems using the restroom protocols to get to the loo, though he understand why they have this system. i asked her help in getting him over his shyness. I also told her that Chun Woo would be away from school Thursday and Friday of next week and the following Tuesday and Wednesday.

Problems continuing, this morning I asked him to trust that when you've once done the thing you fear, it starts getting easier. I asked him to promise that the first time he thought he might need to go to the loo he activate the protocols: ask permission, put his name on the board, and pick up the blue boys' pass. He asked, "But ummah, what if Mrs. J says no?" "Oh," I said blithely, "she won't do that, especially after the note I wrote to her." He told me that yesterday when he asked to go to the restroom she said No. He promised to use the system at the first desire today.

I also learned this morning that to arrange an absence in advance I need to fill in a form in the school office. I had had no response from Mrs. J at all, and none that told me this.

I know that Kindergarten teachers have a terrible time teaching children who don't know the alphabet and the Chun men of their classes, all together. I know it's extra hard at the beginning of the year. But I am NOT PLEASED and we are checking outside options.


Chun Woo went in for his before-Kindergarten testing on Friday. I peeked through the door partway through to see him leaning across his teacher to do something on the table on her other side, and she was stroking his back, so I was relieved that he wasn't too shy to work with her that day.

When they came out she said, "Well, he reads, you knew that, so I didn't try to test his level today. I'll do that later in class."

I couldn't tell whether she was annoyed*.

Monday I walked with him for his first day of public school, and I've been middling traumatized ever since, despite four years history as a Spartan mother.

I know of one definite outside option if this isn't working out, and another possibility that may not be available, but which would be even better. And I'm still anxious.

* I do empathize with the terrible task Kindergarten teachers have, working with kids who don't know their alphabets and kids who ask to hear about the Second World War in some detail, as a car ride story. But Chun Woo's my beloved, and I'm worried.

A story for the Chun Woo

In this context, I think about Chun Woo's story request yesterday.

He asked to be told about the Second World War and the Cold War. He wanted detail on the Second World War: I could provide it in terms of the fronts and players and rough time scheme. He listened with great care and told the church child wrangler, Amina, all about it this morning.


So yesterday Chun Woo and I were talking about I forget what, and the prospect of his sister came up. He suggested that we should name her "Sweetheart."

Oh, he is so nice. And it's my fault for calling him "Beloved."

Mixed Tuesday

Yesterday morning I was leaving Kindercare without asking the Chun man my usual question: "May I have a hug and a kiss?" (He seemed to be involving himself in play already.) As I reached the hallway I heard him calling, "Ummah!" I returned to see him holding up his arms, so I lifted him and got hugs and kisses. And he said, "Mommy, when you hug me it feels so good, and it makes my day good." "Me too," I said.

Later in the day he was throwing sand at colleagues and not stopping when his teacher asked. :D

This morning he is dressed as a tiny cowboy, up to our ability: they're doing Wild West this week. Next week, Egypt.

The Chun man's new fame

He declined dessert yesterday when the class went on a field trip to a pizzeria.

Recent utterances

Chun Woo and his colleagues had a field trip to the Denver Museum of Art yesterday, to see the Tutankhamen exhibit. Chun Woo was entranced, and strongly prefers not to have the pharaoh's name abbreviated. "Because," he explained, "someone might think you meant Thutmose."

Yesterday morning Chun Woo heard on the news about Secretary of State Clinton's visit to South Korea, with mention of the current tensions between North and South Korea. "Ummah!" he said. "Is Korea at war? I was born there!" So on our way to his workplace I explained about how North and South Korea came to be separated and to be more or less continually at war, and mentioned that the Second World War lasted about five years. chun Woo immediately perked up and said, "That's less than the Trojan War!"