Thursday, September 07, 2006

First week of school

This is my son Eldar's first week of school. After graduation from four years of kindergarted, he has moved on to first grade. A November baby, he's older than most of his classmates. It's a big adjustment, it's evident in how exhausted he's been at bedtime. But he's dealing with it well. Hungarian elementary school - esecially this one - is much more formal and rigorous than what I remember of elementary school in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I learned. Here they wear ties, have homework, learn foreign languages, play chess, all from the age of six. After the second day, Eldar's main teacher said that we should look for a different school for Eldar, that he was "dangerously hyperactive" and was distracting all the other students, that she's never seen such a disruptive child. My wife Lucia said she thought Eldar was being discriminated against because he's not technically a Hungarian - despite being born in Hungary. So we talked about a different school or transferring Eldar to another class within the school, but decided to wait until the end of the week before making any jumps. I asked Eldar what he would like to do most at the coming weekend.

"I don't know," he said thoughtfully, the smiling, "I want a lot of things."

He concluded that what he most wanted was to play with his old friends from kindergarten. So I told him if he were well behaved all week, we could have a small party for him on Saturday afternoon. So far, so good. On both Tuesday and Wednesday Eldar earned "red stars", symbols of good behavior. Red, I suppose, as a tribute to Hungary's Leninist past.

I myself have been doing my best to be on good behavior, too. Ploughing through projects to get our financial standing back for the months to come. It's meant swallowing my pride on a few things, accepting lower pay for certain gigs, stretching my patience with a certain client. but moving on without slacking. Yesterday when near my wits end, still suffering from this endless cold, Lucia advised me to take a walk. Excellent advice. It really turned me around. I came back and made a plan for the next few days. This morning I did a telephone interview with a property manager for an article I'm writing. I reached him on the third ring and the interview went smoothly and effectively over the phone. Now back to work . . . .


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