Jie-Jie spent the afternoon in kindergarten and will start in earnest tomorrow. She was withdrawn at first but relaxed a bit after about 3o minutes. I was able to leave her in the classroom for the remainder of the school day (only 30 minutes). We were both emotionally exhausted this evening. The new setting, trying to piece together a basic understanding of what is going on, etc, does take its toll. I imagine there will be many days when we pick her up and she becomes whiny and weepy as she releases the anxiety she’s accumulated throughout the day – after all, this is how it often worked when she was coping with the social and behavioral pressures of childcare in the U.S.
A couple of interesting things…
As I was completing the kindergarten paperwork this morning, I was required to come up with a Chinese name for Jie-Jie. We hit upon a name that sounds somewhat like her nickname. However, because the order of names in Chinese is reversed, the first sound of her nickname (translated into Ai) is now her Chinese family name. We are all going to try to come up with Chinese names that begin with the same sound/family name.
It is amazing how many additional fees there were for the kindergarten. Tuition is quite inexpensive by American standards (less than $175/month). I dutifully arrived with sufficient cash to pay one and a half months’ tuition. However, then there was 1 RMB fee for the health certification form, 2 RMB for the school security ID, 50 RMB semesterly fee for access to the school website (all in Chinese, of course), 8 RMB per day for school meals and purified water (not optional), 19 RMB fee for the official and mandatory school backpack, and a whopping 785 RMB for one semester’s worth of curricular materials. The materials are apparently optional although all the other children in her room have them and they are an important component of the daily routine. Granted, there are between 6 and 7 RMB per dollar but you can see how I ran out of cash. Credit cards are virtually useless here.