I’m just going to write about some unrelated things that we’ve done or seen around here and then I’ll throw in a few pictures of Bethel we took right after we got here. I never posted them and they have nothing to do with any of the things I’ll be posting about.
I’ve always considered myself fairly laid back. I know. Nearly everyone thinks that about themselves. Either you take pride in the fact that you are Type A, or you are laid back and low maintenance. I have never been considered Type A. Nobody who has ever seen my desk at work or my laundry room at home would accuse me of such nonsense. However, my time in Bethel has shown me that in fact I am a totally neurotic spaz-attack. Specifically, I am a total helicopter parent. I will cop to that to a degree. I hover around Rosalind more than I would have anticipated. When we swim she should be within arms reach. When we are walking along the road she should be holding my hand. If we are in a public space together she should remain in my eyeline. I like her to be in fun/academic/athletic camps throughout summer. I like her to practice her reading/writing/math skills everyday so that she is not put into the low reading/math groups in Kindergarten so that she doesn’t continue to be put into those groups every year, continuously receiving an inferior experience thereby creating a looping spiral of death for her entire school career…gasping for breath. Okay. So that’s neurotic, but based in truth. So anyway, back at home (Arkansas) I would say I fall in the middle to lower end of parental neurosis. When compared to my friends I would point out that I never really made Rolo’s baby food from scratch. I don’t stay home with her all year to guide her learning. I assume other people can do a better job teaching her than I can. We buy her lots of junky plastic toys and let her watch too much tv. She freakin’ loves Barbie dolls.
So what is the point of all this? Oh, right!
Right after we got here Rolo attended Campfire Camp. I saw it on a flyer. Sergio called. The dates we were told didn’t match the flyer. How do we sign up? Nobody knew. We’ll have someone call you back. Nobody calls back. We try again. Come by the youth center and sign up. I go by the youth center. Nobody knows where the papers are for the camp. Come back again when a different person is here. Go back again. Nope, you don’t need to sign her up early. Just show up the day it starts. We show up the day it starts. Nobody is there. Internally freak out at the organizational mess that is this camp. Walk to a different building. Nobody there. Walk back. People have magically appeared at original building. Not people. Children. All just biking there, showing up willy nilly. No adults. I wait around until a semi-adult shows up. There is nothing to sign. No record my kid is there. Nobody who would have a clue who she is or if she is being picked up by the correct adult. They don’t even expect adults to pick them up. Most kids just get around by themselves. It’s almost total freedom. Internally hyperventilating, I leave her there. I fumed all day! Where were the papers?! The official things that kept track of my kid? Where were the devices by which they protected themselves from lawsuit while simultaneously giving me a receipt by which to sue them? Where were the key fobs and codes that kept strangers outside the building that housed all the precious, delicate children? Where? Where were the GROWN-UPS?
She was fine. She learned a lot about taking care of herself and being more aware of her surroundings. She learned some terrible coping skills for conflict since there were so few adults to intervene. She became responsible for herself over that three weeks. That’s good. I’m still not sending her off to camp alone on a bike with no helmet, but she has been seen walking up the road without holding my hand. Even when we cross the streets sometimes.
I can’t get Rolo registered for Kindergarten. Actually, I had Rosalind registered for school in Fayetteville before last school year even ended. But not here. The administration leaves all summer. Principals, Deans, secretaries, all gone. The website still holds the calendar for last year. I didn’t even know what day school started until last week. It starts next week. I have called and asked anybody with even a minimal relationship to the schools when I could go register her. I have not gotten the same answer once. The reply that killed me the most was, “just bring her the day school starts.” WHAT?!?!? No. Absolutely not. Things may be different here, but they can’t be that different. Schools still have to know how many teachers they need based on registered students. Parents still need school supply lists or to know how school lunch works. An open house would be fantastic.
****I wrote the above paragraph this morning. I have since gotten Rosalind registered for Kindergarten. The administration arrived back yesterday afternoon. I now know that Kindergarten starts two days after we were told. We have plane tickets to fly to Anchorage the day school starts. So there is a chance that Rosalind will spend only a half day at school on her very first day of school. Oops. I also know the school supply list and the daily schedule. We were also surprised to learn that for this year at least, all school lunches are free to all students.****
Sergio and spent over thirty minutes looking for one baking item at the store recently. It’s hard to tell sometimes if the stores are simply out of an item, or if they stock it someplace different than we would expect. I felt certain that the store must have this item because it was just so basic. I continued up and down the aisles over and over again. I finally asked the teenager behind the service counter where I kept missing vanilla extract. He promptly pointed behind him where all the extracts were tucked nicely in between the tobacco products. Sergio had guessed early in our shopping excursion that perhaps extracts weren’t sold here since they were just alcohol. I scoffed. He was closer to the truth than I was, though. Vanilla extract is a controlled substance here. I think not only because it is alcohol but also because it is small and easily stolen. Bethel tip: Be prepared to hold up your bananas and flour as proof that you are baking if you want to take home some vanilla or almond flavoring.
I want to end this on a positive note. I have learned already to slow way down and engage in a conversation rather than just demand answers. It’s already helping. I have had extremely pleasant experiences applying to sub in the school district. People have been very helpful and friendly. Once I got in the building to get Rosalind registered for school it was all very nice and easy. Rosalind is in a new camp this week and they are quite organized and really friendly. They have just enough paperwork to ease my soul while still maintaining that relaxed Bethel spirit. (Actually I put a whole other paragraph under this last picture. Sorry.)
Oh wait! Nope. There was one other thing that nearly drove me to tears. A couple of weeks ago we finally decided to check out the movie theater. We went to the last showing of How to Train Your Dragon 2. It was the first movie being played that Saturday. We treated ourselves to a whole family cab ride since it was pouring rain. When we got there the two very helpful and kind teenagers working the desk could not sell us tickets. The manager had not shown up yet and the register was locked. The movie was also not set up to play because they couldn’t unlock the projectors. So we waited. They called the manager. Again and again. Nothing. The waiting area filled up with families. They called the managers manager. Nothing. The time for the movie came and went. The time for the next movie came and went. We ate some lunch. They finally got the owner of the building? Or something? To come up. She couldn’t do anything. We gave up and left.
I actually think that they eventually got those people into the movie. They just relaxed and waited the whole ordeal out. Over an hour. I had not yet learned to relax. In that situation, I probably never will. In the end we spent thirty dollars to take a cab to and from the grocery store as a family. Exciting stuff.
So much for ending on a high note.