So now we are requested to visit one of the larger American schools. There is a rather lengthy email with specific instructions of what to do:
- Come early, let your child get comfortable and interact with the others
- When we ring the bell, quickly leave your child and he will follow the teacher to the classroom
- The assessment will be 1.5 hours (ya, I think its too long also)
- Do not ask the teachers any questions after the assessment as they cannot speak to you
It seemed quite serious for such small children. They mention a few things they are looking for. One of those was to see if the child was comfortable to leave his or her parent when they rang the bell. I really wondered how this would work. A four year old at a big facility with new children and strange adults for the first time and no separation anxiety permitted. And while safety is not as bad here as in the US, this is the age you start teaching your children about strangers. I could see this working out really well. I have a way of predicting the future.
So we arrive early and Erin goes out to play on the playground with the other kids. Long story short, a boy snatches something he is playing with – twice. His feelings were hurt, and even though he tried to be assertive the second time it happened, it still ended in tears. And he is wailing on the playground. I’ve not mentioned before he must have a strong diaphragm because his voice projects well, and this situation was no different. In fact, it was so loud, we were not sure that we heard the bell ring. So of course separation anxiety is alive and well. All the other kids seemed to follow their strangers with no issues.
He finally gets in the classroom and settles. Reluctantly, he goes to play with the blocks. I find my way to the holding tank for parents. On my way, there were some teachers who seemed kind of surprised I was still lingering. When I explained the situation to confirm I wasn’t stalking the testing rooms, they immediately asked, “oh, was that “Johnny” who snatched it?”. In fact yes it was. They seemed to have his number. I learned that his older brother goes to the school already. I guess he was a little over confident on the playground since he probably already felt it was his turf.
While in the holding tank, I notice a lot of these parents are very American. This school is very American. There is nothing wrong with being American. I am one, but at the same time it feels odd because it does not feel like Dubai.
I have to consider the fact that my son is a hybrid of sorts. His mom is American and his dad is Turkish. He won’t fit into either box. I was thrilled at his answer the first time I asked him where he was from. “Istanbul, Texas”. It is not a bad idea to consider a place with diversity.
The mom sitting next to me proceeds to tell me her life story. She is unhappy here. If her son did not get in, she would not be disappointed as that would be her ticket to go back to the US. She had not looked at any other schools.
I start to wonder if other parents here feel the same. I hope not. For sure we do not know how long we will live in Dubai. However, for the time we are here, this is our home. Dubai is a transient place for a lot of people so moving is a fact of life. However, it would be nice if the children that my son will spend most of his time with are of a similar mindset that Dubai is a nice place (because it is), and they enjoy where they are.
Finally we were instructed we could collect our children. When I saw Erin he was happy, but not overly enthusiastic. As we walked back to the car he had made his decision. “Mommy, I do not want to go to this school because the children are not very nice.” He was really bothered by the “naughty boy”.
A few days later I got an email stating that he got in. I have not yet read it in detail yet as it is quite lengthy and there seem to be a lot of instructions around the payment method and seat reservations.
Ironically, when we arrived at his school today (late), there were two teachers visiting Erin’s class from that very school. They were likely there to observe a child that they wanted to follow up on, which they mention in their instructions. I cannot imagine any of Erin’s classmates not getting in, as they are all bright, intelligent children.
We were trying really hard to be there early before they did the roll call. He was upset that we did not get there sooner. It was classic. He hid behind me and held my leg just as he did when he did not want to join the assessment.
We have one more assessment to go.