Meeting our co-parents this time was much less like the pit-fighting montage in Conan the Barbarian than our first meeting. We all smiled at one another and gave congratulatory high-fives and back-slaps to each other, to celebrate our kids making it through the assessment. Or rather, we would have, except the other parents were English. And the English don't 'high-five'.
Instead, we gathered in the hall and had very civilized glasses of wine and sparkling water, and various bruschetta with cream cheese and sea creatures. We looked at the adorable little uniforms, and talked to the French teacher (French? Zut alors! The kid's only just turned four!). Most of the parents gathered in little groups, having met previously because they have other daughters at the school, or because they're neighbors, etc. Not having a similar connection, my Bride and I sat off to one side a bit until the headmistress took pity on the American couple (busily high-fiving and back-slapping each other), and came over and talked to us for a while.
We were eventually herded back into the library, where they walked us through a powerpoint presentation on the "Queen's School Approach to Education," along with their expectations for us parents. Among other things, we learned that they are 'quite fussy' about the proper way to hold a pen or use phonetics, and our daughters were likely to come home and correct us on how we've been doing it wrong all these years, and that our duty was to agree and promise to do better.
Then we got to the things that we were to make sure our daughters were able to do before she started:
Headmistress: Please make sure your daughter knows how to put on her own shoes before starting school in September
No problem. We've been slip-on or velcro fans from way back.
Headmistress: Please make sure your daughter knows how to use her fork and knife
The Critter is clearly a genius. She's been eating with her own utensils for years. She can even use chopsticks if we hold them together with a rubberband.
Headmistress: Please make sure your child knows how to do up her own buttons
Alright. The Critter isn't great at this, but with a little practice, she'll improve.
Headmistress: Please make sure your daughter [drops to stage whisper]can wipe her own bottom[/whisper].
Alright, I admit it. Our daughter still yells out across the house to have an adult come wipe her tush after she makes number two. Look, she was three until a second ago, and frankly, both my Bride and I think we already spend too much time dealing with the whole small-person-bodily-function area, so we've maybe not placed the emphasis on it we should have. I'm pretty confident the Critter gets the principle, but just isn't prepared to handle the execution. There were some other requirements, but frankly they all faded to insignificance after I heard this one. I turned to my Bride with a look of dread.
So now we're left with basically three months to train our daughter how to use toilet paper (but not too much toilet paper. She has a tendency to think that if a little is good, a lot much be better, much to our plumber's gratification) and clean herself. Thank God self-cleaning bottoms wasn't part of the assessment process, or she'd never have gotten in...