"How's it going?" I get asked a lot these days when there's talk about preschool, and about how my kids are settling in.
And at the moment, I don't know how to answer that. I uhm and I ahm and eventually, I say, "So and so," or maybe, "Okay, sort of."
Because at the moment, almost every day that I spend time at preschool, at some point I mutter under my breath, "Oh for f*ck's sake!" and then I go up to some boys and have "discussions" with them, or go over to teachers who then have "discussions" with those boys.
Because those boys - at least for the moment - are bullies. Almost every day The Kid gets hit by someone there, and I am growing to become a rather permanent, intervening fixture at that preschool which I am already seeing that some teachers are appreciating, and some others probably think I should tone down.
To those latter ones: I don't care. I will keep standing up for the few kids who, like The Kid, are gentle and small in stature, and struggle for words. And when I see someone run into a little girl, ram her into a table, and then run away knowing that at that particular moment, no teacher was there to witness it and this girl does not have the ability to explain what happened to someone so she can get help - you kids are going to keep having discussions with me, and I will continue explaining to you that when you are strong and have big muscles, you need to understand that others may not be as strong, and you need to be gentler with them. And that if you do this stuff, you will keep on having to deal with me.
Even if on the inside I could so easily grab you by the scruff and shout, "Back off from my kid!" I will set an example on consistent, strong gentleness, and I will keep looking you in the eye, and we will keep having discussions where I will ask you questions, and prompt you to think.
...even if on the inside, and under my breath, I mutter, "Oh for f*ck's sake!" and I could so easily grab you by the scruff of your neck.
But I won't do that.
Instead, I will keep standing up for my kid, and any other kid I see you confronting, intimidating, and hurting.
Because the way you do things is not how we do things around here. Not on my watch, mister.
Hitting was something we never had to encounter in our wonderful preschool in Christchurch. Neither I, nor The Kid, knew how to deal with it when we arrived in Invercargill. I never had to hear The Kid say, "Mom, don't leave me here!" when going to preschool in the morning.
But we are both learning how to deal with things, and fix things, and how to stand up for ourselves.
There are a lot of therapies, support networks and such I am in the process of transferring from Christchurch to Invercargill to help both The Kid, who is heading to school next year, and ourselves.
Being a different district health board, where funding is allocated differently, most things aren't actually "transferrable" per se, but have to go through a new "needs assessment process" so that Invercargill officials can decide what they have funding for, and what they don't.
Yesterday as I was having a phone conversation with a (wonderful) service manager from Ministry of Education, she noted how frustrating such a lack of consistency must be for me, and I just... nodded, and said to her that I've learned through experience that if someone says no, I just have to keep badgering people and eventually, someone will say yes.
I am aware that an unkind person could easily label me an overbearing mama-bear, like a caricature from a Hollywood movie.
Well to those sort of people, I have three words: I don't care.
I remain polite, respectful, consistent and gentle, but it's not my job to be likable. My job is to get the best - or near best - possible outcome for my children within the environment I live in (whilst understanding there are limitations) and if I have a feeling that something is being declined out of someone's ease, rather than actual good reasons I am comfortable with, then I will keep on calling, talking, approaching and writing, and eventually, most things I need my kids to be happy, come through. (Like, hey!, I have a GP in Invercargill whilst there are 4 pages of people on the waiting list who don't.)
Kind of like the "discussions" I am having at preschool. I am polite, respectful, consistent and gentle, but it's not my job to be likable.
And I bloody well will do my job to stand up for my kids!