Kindergarten and Potassium iodide

We went to see a potential kindergartern for Benjamin today, with mixed emotions.  I’m very excited for him — I know he will enjoy making friends, playing games, making arts and crafts and everything else he’ll get to experience by going to school.  But I’ve never been away from him like this.  We spend our days together.  With very few exceptions, I have been there to guide his explorations, to kiss all his boo boos and to supervise and witness all of his adventures.  It’s going to be very hard for me to have him go to school, even for just 4 hours a day.

That said, we love the kindergarten.  It’s close to Dan’s work, so they’ll ride the train together every day.  The teachers are so nice, and they all speak at least a little English (although not as much, or as well, as I’d like — I fear there is potential for Benjamin, who is an amazing communicator, to be frustrated . . . but they were trying so hard).  The place is lovely and clean, with lots of toys and a beautiful playground outside.  The kids all seemed happy, relaxed and confident.  We were there during snack time, and it was great to see the kids sitting around the little tables, in their little chairs, helping themselves to fresh fruit.  Benjamin really liked it — he cried when it was time for us to leave (although I think the toys were a big part of that).  If it really is time for him to start school (and I think it is — or will be, in September) then I think it’s a really nice place for him to be.

As part of our interview/orientation today, we had a lot of forms to fill out, papers to sign and information (principally in German) to take home and read (i.e., translate).  It was pretty standard:  immunization records, personal information, who’s allowed to pick him up, emergency contacts . . . and a permission form for the administration of Potassium iodide tablets in the event of nuclear emergency.  Yep.

Apparently, this is a standard thing here.  According to the kindergarten administrator, most people here keep the tablets on hand at home, but they’re happy to provide them for Benjamin in the event of a nuclear event while he’s at school.  Which, I guess, is comforting.  Kind of.

There aren’t any functioning nuclear reactors in Austria.  But in a country that is roughly the size of South Carolina, this, alone, is not sufficiently informative.  There are nuclear power plants surrounding Austria on every side, and many of the reactors are close to the border.  But, although the closest one to where I’m living right now is no closer than the closest one to where I was living at home, the thought of stocking up on Potassium iodide tablets had never crossed my mind.  (It’s certainly on my mind now.)

Shocking as it was to read (and sign) a form permitting Benjamin’s teachers to do their best to protect him in the event of nuclear devastation, I think I’m more concerned with the fact that the kindergarten teachers’ English isn’t as good as I’d like.  I think that’s the better place to spend my worry.  And, I’m glad they’re planning ahead and looking out for him — but I’m a little freaked out.

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