Katherine, May 2003 – Katherine’s (and next year, Rebecca’s) school is the International School of Manila, or ISM. There are several classes of first graders and she is in Mrs. Llantada’s class. It’s in Room 20 which she thought was pretty cool since her classroom at King with Mrs. Childress was Room 20 as well. The school offeres plenty of after school options, from gymnastics to swimming to chess and pottery. I think she'll have even more fun next year when we can register her for these classes. This year was a bust as there's only 2 weeks left for activities. I'm hoping beyond hope that there are options for Kindergarten too as Rebecca has already planned out her year, but the booklet I received only covered the actual grades. If it's not available through the school I'll have no alternative but to look through the CLO.
We arrived midway through the last trimester, but she has adapted well as we knew she would. She has made friends, done well with her schoolwork and loves P.E. and recess. She’s obviously 7. P.E. is a lot of fun here. They’ve had dancing, wall climbing and have started their final section with swimming lessons. Needless to say, with all the stories Katherine comes home with, Rebecca often mopes around wishing she were in school too. Along with all the fun stuff has been some rough spots, including forgetting her lunch at home, missing the bus one afternoon and forgetting her homework pack for the entire Easter break. The missed bus was the most worrisome for her, but I received a call from the office saying she was still there and that she’d catch the next bus. They have regular buses, the after school buses and then the late buses. Thank goodness because we still don’t have a car and when the driver leaves for the day, we’re stuck at home. But she did make it back and all was well. Why did she miss the bus? She was playing with a friend of hers in another classroom and didn’t hear the bus bell. They get out of school about 10 minutes before the buses leave and most of the time she’s at the playground, but not that day. One day she forgot her lunch at home, but another day I got a note from the teacher asking me to remember to pack her a lunch and snack, and I was positive that I had done so that morning. Katherine insisted that she didn’t have it, I insisted that she did and we went round and round until I asked her specifically if she had taken it out to get something else from inside her bag. *light bulb moment* Thankfully there is the option of signing for snack and lunch and running up a tab at the canteen so she didn’t go hungry, but now we have a bill to pay. She kept telling us it was free. “All I have to do is sign for it, mom, and they give me my lunch!”
Katherine’s top 2 teeth are still loose. A little more now than before, but far from dropping out. I should check the gums behind them to see if the adult teeth are coming in there like they did on the bottom. The bottom ones moved up nicely, but she never did have those big empty holes. Oh, and she’s finally gotten in her molars. She was shocked to find them in there one day, I guess they didn’t bother her too much!
When it comes right down to it, she’s a great big sister, and she follows rules to a T. She’s very sympathetic and concerned, but I do wish that it would show itself more often at home, especially towards her sister. Those two are always at each other. Yesterday though, they actually played -together- at the playground. It was so nice to see. They were playing chase and that sort of game really encourages Rebecca to get over any fears of climbing on and over the equipment.
Back to her friends at school. One day she came home with a note from the mother of the other new student, Filip, asking if Katherine could come over and play. OK, so I put off calling back, but when I did I spoke with this wonderful Swedish woman, Gunilla. They’re still in temporary housing and while we are in our house we didn’t have our belongings at the time, so we planned to go to the hotel and go swimming. After talking with her a bit, we discovered that her daughter Frieda and Rebecca are close in age, so she agreed that Rebecca should come too and the four kids would go swimming. That Saturday I packed up the girls and went to the nearby hotel that’s on top of the Glorietta shopping mall. Gunilla had put out a snack and I realized I should hang out around 7 year olds more often. Her son and Katherine are so much alike, even though Filip speaks barely any English, but his sense of humor and behaviors make Katherine seem so much more normal! They had a ball at the pool even though (or maybe because) none of them swam very well, and Gunilla and I had a chance to talk for a long while. She even helped me figure out some of the functions on my cell phone and I sent my very first text message to Ian when he asked if I was having fun. Isn’t that male code for “You’ve been gone long enough, the boys are awake and you need to come home now”? Anyhow, since texting is all the rage here in Manila, I figure I should understand it. While we were talking I asked if she had received a letter from the teacher about a meeting and thankfully she had. Nothing makes you wonder about your kid more than getting a note from a teacher asking you to meet with her after school. Anyhow, she had and we discovered that her time was directly after mine. We decided to watch each other’s kids at the playground while we chatted with Mrs. Llantada.
So, we met up at school and I talked with Mrs. Llantada without interruption. I heard the usual report of how much life and energy Katherine brings to the classroom. How she volunteers for everything, wants to help everyone. She commented on how you can’t tell that Katherine was a late arrival. She made friends and blended right in. That’s my girl. When it was my turn to watch the kids, another mother approached me and asked if I was new. Affirming her belief, she then asked if I was the big sister or… *rolls eyes* I just told her that I was older than I looked and she seemed oddly relieved. Even though her daughter is in a different classroom than Katherine, her family is Embassy and she’d heard of us. Her kids are the same age spread as ours, only in 5th, 3rd, 1st, preschool and a newborn. I guess people think that since we both have a bunch of kids that we should get together. I must say though that seeing her #5 newborn made me seriously wish for another baby of our own. Oh well.