Our Junior Infant

Dear sisters,

There were big changes for all of us this fall! Esther is married, Rachel is having a baby and has a kindergartener, Janna has started a master’s, Jewel is  moving to Wisconsin, and my Archer has started school!

Archer has started junior infants, which is not exactly like kindergarten but not exactly like preschool either. Instead of one year before first grade, Ireland has two years before first grade: Junior infants and Senior infants (which is an oxymoron?)  In the States, he would likely not attend kindergarten until next year because he is a late November baby. So I am thinking of this year, from my American perspective, as preschool, except he already did a year of (FREE) preschool (thanks, Irish government)! He started September 1. He plays happily at school, he’s making friends. He sometimes says he doesn’t want to go, but has a good time when he’s there. Your typical kid.

snazzy tracksuit uniform!
snazzy tracksuit uniform!  random farm detritus!

I am sure it is no coincidence that I’ve been binging on unschooling / homeschooling / wilderness skills blogs lately. He seems so young to be studying, to have homework tracing lines and coloring within them. To send him into a classroom every day still feels a little wrong to me. He asks why Era can’t come with him (adorable, I know). While your life seems to be LESS complicated by Miriam in kindergarten, Rachel, our lives are more so. Archer’s school is located on a new build campus, which has an unpleasant traffic pattern.  There is no school bus from our little town (yet, I’m keeping my fingers crossed). This morning we got yelled at by a crossing-guard for parking in the bus zone.  School drop off and pick-up quickly becomes a grind. I don’t feel old enough to have a kid in school. In my fantasies I like to imagine that we could suddenly become SouleMama or Ben Hewitt (google them), allowing our children to whittle and farm and set up traps all day. I wish he spent more time outside, identifying mushrooms. I wish I spent more time outside, identifying mushrooms.

Era wants to do homework too
Era wants to do homework too

This is the beginning of a life beyond the scope of ours. He is being educated in a language that we don’t know, in a country that he will call home in a way we never will. I’m a little jealous. His teachers talk to him in Irish Gaelic all day, and he will be competently fluent in a short period of time. Every day there is something new – a color, like glas (green) or gorm (blue), a phrase like how to go to the bathroom (which I would butcher if I attempted it here). A few days ago he counted from one to five in Irish. He wears a little tracksuit uniform, and I was secretly pleased when his little non-comformist self rebelled about wearing the same clothes as the other kids. I’ve got that streak in me as well. Bradley and I do Irish Duolingo lessons in the evenings, but  we’ll never keep up.  He’s proud of learning a language that we don’t know, and he’s excited to teach us. We are immigrant parents, awash in a new culture, witnessing a life for our children that is different than our own experience. Many Gaelscoil (Irish school) parents express remorse for not being bilingual. We all attempt to correct our regrets in our children.

A new surname: Archer Dáibhis (Dah-vish)
A new surname: Archer Dáibhis (Dah-vish). Irish doesn’t have the letter V.

Communication about school with him is usually offered up when I don’t ask about it.  He tells me about the games at school, playing duck duck goose and ‘trying to scare the girls’ (?!). He asks me what words mean and we try to figure them out in our Irish-English dictionary. He sings me Irish songs through the keyhole of his bedroom door after I put him to bed. We gather up the anecdotes of his days, take them with a grain of salt, and attempt to respond appropriately. And so it begins!

Can’t believe I’m a primary school parent,


3 thoughts on “Our Junior Infant

  1. I love his tracksuit! I understand your feelings about homeschooling/unschooling/etc, I have moments of insecurity about that too. Those parents have chosen to structure their lives differently to accommodate that style of education. I remind myself that Krestia and I are still Miriam’s best teachers (somehow we taught her to read!) and that we give her plenty of opportunities outside of school for unstructured, creative play, and that we take her on walks in the woods as much as we can. She loves school though so I’m not too worried–she is soaking it up like a little sponge.

  2. I love hearing about these things. They make me feel a little fuller of the things missed being so far apart. That life of identifying mushrooms requires a different lifestyle, huh? Or being independently wealthy. I think you do a wonderful job of getting him (and you) outside, playing, interacting, and learning new things.

  3. It was so interesting to hear about Archer immersing in a second language! And he does look very dashing in his tracksuit

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