Sunday, September 25

Back to School

A friend in the USA recently sent me some pictures of her little 5 yr old's departure to his first day of school.  He didn't want to leave home, but there he was, at the end of the driveway, drying his tears...before long he would be a pro at taking the school bus to & from home.  What?!  Taking the bus?!  Did I hear that correctly?
I knew then and there I'd been in Europe too long.  I distinctly recall that parents tend to take their kids to school and pick them up again until they can do trigonometry!  And, on top of that, with the mammas - and sometimes more often the babysitters - dragging their backpacks for them.  Not to mention that in Europe, school starts at 6 to boot.
Granted, my friend no longer lived in New York City where I'm quite certain parents still drop off the kids at the playground.  A friend who lives outside Rome told me there are no school buses --- so the kids either have to take regular city transportation or get toted around by their live-in drivers.
In Switzerland, the public schools are positioned so close to every single neighborhood, no child need walk more than 5 blocks to get there.  And even then, parents often are the official escorts, although they sometimes work in a Pedi-Bus where the kids form a sort of human chain to walk the 3 blocks to the school yard, of course, manned by a parent or two.  Über-efficient Switzerland does have its drawbacks as another friend posted on Facebook, why does school have to start at 8:40???
As for my friend, I was still aghast that parents didn't accompany the kid on the first day of class...She said it was actually discouraged, because then you get the cling-ons and all the rest.  She then reminded me that he did have, in fact, his big sister on the bus with him -- But then again, when she first started school she made it in all on her own, and she hadn't even turned five yet--

How was your first day of school?  Your kids'?  When kids in Europe don't start driving until 18, are we just part of a long tradition of dependency?  Where does it start?  And, perhaps more importantly, where does it end?  
For one Italian family, they've gone to the courts to get their 41 yr old out of the house.  (click here for the link)  [Although they shouldn't hold their breath on this option-the courts have consistently sided with the 48 yr old kiddies-you can see some articles on this in my Notizie column on the right hand side].


Anonymous said...

As a German family starting in Italy... It was pure drama. I enjoyed it profoundly.

MarthaW said...

The second day, though, George got out early again and I forgot. He didn't mind cause he likes riding the bus, but the guilt. OH the guilt! Darn Catholic upbringing.

Jacques said...

Last year in Venice: first day of first grade, all the kids were accompanied by one or both parents, some even a grandparent or two also. Meeting at 9:30 for everyone on the back tennis court, where the teacher called each name one by one, and the child, with only one of the accompaniers ("porta-zaino" - which, considering the weight of the bookbags is roughly translatable as "a Sherpa who pays for the privilege") formed a line, and, when all were there, a procession to the classroom, with the "extra" accompaniers pulling up the rear...
Every day, until at least 4th grade, after which it can be optional (seemingly at the teachers' discretion) one of four pre-registered adults should wait in the morning with the child until the teacher accompanies them all to the classroom, and after school the teacher will not release the student until she sees "the whites of the eyes" of one of the four approved accompaniers.
No big-sisters allowed (unless they are at least 18 years old - my elder 16yo daughter, who had the same teachers, was not allowed by the school to pick up her sister).

Harmco said...

Great article - thought-provoking on a couple levels

Dave514 said...

That's nothing, how about starting in an English Public boarding school at age EIGHT! Welcome to the real world!


Irreverent Italy said...

@Jacques - hysterical.

@Davide - what does one do between ages 2 & 8 while 'preparing' for school???? And how do you stop the damage?

Kyla said...

Love it. Supporting independence does not mean you still can't cuddle. It's sheer joy to have both.

On the the next big stage.. teenage -- I just read a fascinating article in National Geographic on the Teenage Brain and why they are the way they are and it's actually really good news! I recommend it to anyone headed that way or in it.

Dave514 said...

At First Grade I was taken to school by my mother everyday as I remember.

From the age of six I walked two blocks to school.

Then at age eight it was boarding school.

During WWII you grew up fast.there was no other choice.

I remember traveling by train alone from Montreal to Washington DC aged 12.

Still 12 years old, I was attached to my bosses family on my back to England on the QM. I had developed enough independence to invite Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia to play deck tennis with me.

Irreverent Italy said...

all i know is that i have friends (on both sides of the pond) who don't let their 17 yr old daughters travel by plane by themselves lest they can't find Gate 27 when they land at Gate 24...

Most 12 yr olds anywhere (except the suburbs) don't know how to cross the street...

Dave514 said...

Sorry, my mistake, I was 13 at the time I traveled by train and was on the QM.

Math was never my best subject, especially now that on Oct. 9th, I'll be 80 years young.


Jacques said... far as school goes, it might be hysterical if it weren't tragically true. The tragi-comic mask is Mediterranean in any case, from which the Italians have deeply rooted origins.
As for the airplane travel, luckily, my 17y.o. daughter has had a half American upbringing, including numerous trips back and forth to visit relatives, as opposed to her almost 50-something (Venetian) mother. I would trust my daughter a thousand times with problems and complications to manage well, as opposed to any one time of the wife by herself (much less being responsible for anyone else as well).