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Friday, 2 March 2012

"Adapts to new situations"

This week I completed Term 2 report cards for my class of Junior Kindergarteners.  While there are academic expectations for four year-olds, the “personal and social development” benchmarks are arguably just as important.  One category that I’ve been reflecting on is “adapts to new situations.”  Young children (and adults too) are comfortable with routines and may not adapt well when changes occur.
   I’ve been asking myself how well I adapt to new situations.  Through this self-check, I put myself in the shoes of my paternal grandmother, who was born on March 2, 1905.  At the age of 50, her husband decided their family with eight children should emigrate from Holland and go to Canada, which in Oma’s mind was “the wilderness.”  Talk about new situations--the weeklong sea voyage, a lack of English language skills, seven weeks without their belongings because their crates had been sent to the wrong town and a large draughty house that included the bachelor farmer who had hired them for the first year. 
   When I interviewed her about her life at age 88, Oma told me one more remarkable detail about their start in Canada.  The farmer who had agreed to pay them $90 per month for farm labour gave them only half that amount when my Oma asked for it.  She thought to herself that maybe he would make up for it the following month, but the same thing happened again.  A resourceful woman, she decided to ask for their pay every two weeks, and that was how they earned their full salary.
     In the same interview, she said, “I didn’t really want to go [to Canada], but slowly on I got used to the idea.”  Her adaptive qualities continued to be felt by her children and grandchildren as the years rolled on until her passing at the age of 96.  She never mastered English, but I give my Oma high marks for adjusting to change with grace and contentment.

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