It was just recently the start of the school year on my island. Or, at least I thought it was… the whole “start” bit is kind of fuzzy here.
Back in the US, it’s pretty easy to find out the school calendar dates. They are published in all kinds of places and practically qualify as common knowledge. And you get plenty of advance notice.
It was already mid-August and peeps in the US were starting to post the ubiquitous First Day of School pics on Facebook and yet, I couldn’t find any information about school start dates for Daughter. So I made a call to the Ministry of Education to ask them. Simple question, right?
“Good afternoon. Could you please tell me when the first day of school is this year for my daughter’s school?”
“It will be announced on the radio.”
In my head: Whaaaaat????
Out of my mouth: “Oh. OK. Great. Would it be possible for you to just TELL me though, please?”
In my head: I mean, is this a state secret?
“September 7th, but listen to the radio in case there is a change.”
In my head: Why would there be a change this close to the start date…?
Out of my mouth: “Uh. Ok. Thank you.”
I didn’t even have to ask what radio station, because I already knew which one she was referring to. It’s the local AM Christian talk radio show. I know this because I was chastised last year for not listening to it when they announced an early school closing because of heavy rain, and I failed to come pick my daughter up in time. Who knew I was supposed to be listening 24/7? (And no, you don’t get this kind of info at “Orientation”.) And who knew heavy rain closed school? (Although I kind of get it now – I don’t live in the hills, but if I did, I wouldn’t want to drive up or down those crazy-steep unmaintained roads in a downpour.)
So I start planning for school to start on September 7th. Then, a week before, I ran into one of her teachers in the grocery store. On a whim, I asked him, “Just checking, but school starts September 7th right?”
”Oh, no,” he said, “That’s just for new students. She doesn’t need to come until the 8th.”
Glad I bumped into him! I effectively saved myself from a bout of unpleasant 10-Year-Old-Girl -Attitude for sending her a day early.
Next up: Son. He’s starting a new school this year, different from the one Daughter attends. This school seemed a little more “with it” when we interviewed with them. At that time, we were told that Orientation for new students was on August 31st. So I had been planning for that all summer, ordering school supplies and the like. (This is a challenge in and of itself and could easily be a whole separate post. What I paid to get an artist’s sketch pad here in time is truly criminal. Note to self: start school shopping in April next year.)
After what happened with Daughter, I decided then that it would be wise to call the other school to re-confirm the start time for Son’s Orientation too. Less than a week before August 31st, I called the school and – surprise! – was told, “Oh, yeah, the date has changed…”
Son ended up starting four days later than I had planned on. It’s fine, gotta roll with the island punches and all, but I have to wonder:
- Is there is some embedded communication chip that I am missing to which this kind of information is delivered to other parents? (Yet another reminder that I am clearly not a “Belonger”.)
- Do I really have to listen to AM Christian radio all day every day to get these nuggets of seemingly important information? (This is never going to happen. I can’t. I won’t.)
- Don’t the administrators and teachers also like to make plans with a firm start date? (This begs the worry that maybe I haven’t really adopted island time quite as completely as I need to…)
Or maybe it really doesn’t matter, and I should just start sending them whenever I sense that summer vacation should be about over, give or take a day… or four.
I wonder when Christmas break is…