It seems only not so very long ago that I was making heart wrenching choices of choosing daycares, and suddenly I realize it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten for next fall. I find myself browsing our city’s public school website and gasping – the school only goes until when???!!!! Don’t other parents need to work too? What do they mean the the morning class switches with the afternoon class in the January? After-school program? Huh? She’s only going to be in kindergarten.
Thinking back, I really was blessed. I started going to kindergarten at three. In Taiwan, the kindergarten had the “small” class, the “middle” class, and the “big” class. The names of the classes had nothing to do with the size of the classes, but the age of the children (as I sadly found out one morning after my mother had told me that I was old enough to go to the “big” class). So, instead of going to preschools for 2 years, and then kindergarten for 1 year, as in the US, the preschool and the kindergarten were combined into “kindergarten”. Every morning the bus would pick me up from the gate of the elementary school where both my parents taught, and then in the afternoon the bus would drop me off at the same spot. After drop off, I would simply go inside to my mother’s or my father’s class, and went home with them.
My two younger sisters didn’t go to kindergarten at all. That’s where my grandmas came in. Each of my amahs took care of one of my sisters, and neither of my sisters went to any kind of school until first grade. I never thought about this before, but now I wonder what other parents did. Certainly not everyone was as lucky as my parents to have a job where the kids can go hang out at their work. Although, I think there were an abundance of amahs who were more than willing, eager even, to take care of their grandkids. I think this child care model is akin to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”. As a year 2009 mom living in a first world country, I really don’t see a “village”. I see a society that has more wealth than ever, and yet even a basic need such as child care is a challenge to be “worked out”.