The Preschool has finally opened. Until the school building is completed, we have set up the school in the unused portion of the Dining Hall. We have been preparing the 3 and 4 year old children for this big day and had an orientation/welcome event so the children could become familiar with this new program.
Since school always means “uniforms” here, the mamas are asking what colors the school uniforms will be. I told our housekeeper Flavia that we muzungus did not usually wear uniforms to school. She looked startled and responded, “JjaJa, how would anyone know who you were if you were struck by a car footing home?” I looked puzzled by that and she explained that people are often identified following an accident by tracing the uniform worn to the school the child attended. Personal identification cards have not infiltrated this culture!
These first days since opening are going pretty well. Our Headmistress decided that disobedient children would be handled by facing suspension. She thought that would whip these kids into shape quickly if they were forced to stay at home and do chores rather than getting to come to school.
Well, this week we have suspended the suspension policy since so many were being suspended we couldn’t keep track of who could go to school and who had to stay home! Carolyn and I should be ashamed of how we are taking such delight in watching our precocious preschoolers change the program that Joanne had in place to whip these kids into shape! She said to me, “Lissa, I cannot physically move these children – they must listen and obey verbal commands.” I said, “Joanne, they do listen — but the problem is they rejected what they heard! I have found that physically move a child to where I want them to be progresses us both!” Day after day she is carrying a young one home from school who is refusing to obey! She is a very committed woman but one who has not had experience working with young children and she has very high expectations at the moment.
Joanne’s understanding of preschool bladder control issues is another area where there is a huge learning curve. To maximize their classroom teaching time and not spend all morning lined up at the bathroom, the children were allowed only one potty break. After a couple of days of accidents, Joanne asked that all children have a back up set of clothes. That will mean I need to make another trip to Owino Market to buy a set of clothes for the children and keep them lying in wait in a cubbie hole at school. Extra clothes is a new concept to people who are blessed to have just what is needed. At this point, I am greeted each day with what I have called “The Daily Urine Report. The Headmistress lets me know who has spoiled their clothes and how many times. I am wondering if that will become a new category on the school report card!
Well, the 1 potty break rule got suspended yesterday, in fact, Joanne gave them 3 breaks. This seemed like real wisdom since I had given the children a Mebendazole de-worming treatment with breakfast! She has discovered that she needs a school motto, school colors and a school song to be accredited by the Ugandan educational system. After the first week, we have suggested the motto might be “Don’t Hit!”, the colors should be black and blue and the perfect school song would be, “Trust and Obey!”. Joanne is good natured about our teasing!
On the home front, we are expecting two sofas to be completed by Wednesday. The chairs here are huge and look out of proportion so we decided to get 2 sofas for everyone to have a place to sit and be comfortable. I am planning to be all over them at the end of the day when I use them for stretching out. It is strange to walk into a shop and pick out a fabric and then describe the style and dimensions to be custom made. Ready made is not the way here–custom made is! Mike requested that the sofas be 6 feet long on the inside of the arms-I’m thinking they will look long but I am so “longing” for something with a cushion! The Indian furniture man calls cushions “sponges”.
If I am remembering where we are in the Psalms correctly I smiled when it was time to read Psalm 82 yesterday and came across vs. 3. Do you remember how God used that Psalm and Boice’s commentary to give me permission to pray specifically that we go to Romania? Here we are in Uganda-His re-directions keep our eyes pealed on Him don’t they? Well, I look forward to news about your trip and will be praying for you in the meantime.
Love you bunches,