The new school year has begun for us. There were some big changes, the biggest one that Jacob has now joined us as a first grader!
A little caveat: He would not be a first grader in a normal world. He's past the cut-off date for both the US and the German school system but we kept him in the school prep class that we have in Germany for the simple reason that all his friends are some weeks older and thus before the cut-off and it would have broken his heart to be left behind. He's been socially a little behind, namely having problems with temper tantrums, and all school counselors and the Kindergarten teachers recommended keeping him back. I did not have a problem with that per se, even if it's not nice to hear that your kid is academically advanced but socially challenged. Both Doug and I always maintained that there is still time (we got those recommendations early last school year) and that one year makes so much difference in a little child's life. Last month, Jacob went to Kindergarten for the tail-end of the Bavarian school year (the summer break is in August) and lo, the teachers made a point to tell me how much he had grown up and how wonderfully he had turned out. Which he has. We had worked hard to contain those temper tantrums and to curtail all the wailing and crying and he's done such a good job. He has grown into a very charming boy who knows it's all right to be angry and disappointed and sad, only it's not all right to fling it into everyone's face with the force of a category 5 hurricane. He's also happier than he was in the past months and that's so nice to see. He was ready for school.
Which is why he started the new school year with his older brothers. In Germany, first graders are celebrated enthusiastically. They get big paperboard cones which are filled with sweets and toys, and the first day of school is just a big party. Both Alan and David started school in Germany, so Jacob was aware of this custom and he demanded it for himself as well. So we got him a cone (I got him a cheap one with teddybears and then my Mom made me go and exchange it for a more expensive one with cars - she donated the difference and Jacob was very grateful):
We printed welcome signs, we had a little celebration, and he loved it. He felt very special and I'm glad he did. Every first grader should feel special on his first day of school.