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Among the many, many changes coming Simon’s way when he leaves KIP for elementary school in a year or so will be the shuffling of the friend deck. I already know that one of Simon’s friends will be at Hawthorne or at the school where her mom teaches, and another has moved to a different county. With the current student assignment plan in Jefferson County, it is unlikely that Simon will end up with any of his KIP friends once he leaves preschool.

As it happens, though, the most dreaded split of all—the one from best-buddy Baron—is coming earlier than anticipated. Baron’s mom is expecting a baby in November, and she’s opted to move Baron and Asher to a new school. AJ has a new infant program that will allow all three of her kids to be in the same school from January, when the new baby will be six weeks old, until May, when school ends for the year.

AJ is Agotich’s school, and Asher will be in her class, but that’s not going to be much of a balm for Simon’s heart. I’ve had little to worry about this past year, as Simon has done well academically and socially. He’s happily trotted off to school each day, had a great time, and learned tons. Next year was supposed to be more of the same, but now I’m not so sure.

The boys at KIP are just so thin on the ground.* Second-best friend Aciek will be back repeating the threes next year, as he’s a year younger than Simon and was only in the threes last year because of space constraints.** Kamal, who I began to hear a fair bit about towards the end of the year, has moved with his family to Paris. That leaves Simon, Griffen, Brian, Logan, Keon, and Braylon as the six boys to be split among two classes next year. Simon wasn’t in Griffen’s class last year, and he’s never been in a class with Brian, Logan, or Keon.

Friend-wise, we’re right back at the beginning. The girls are no help to me, either. One on one, Simon plays well with lots of them. He loves Ruby and Caroline and Gabrielle and Jillian and Anieya and Lily and others. But once it’s time for group free play, KIP looks a lot like Saudi Arabia or a middle-school dance: all the girls on one side of the room and all the boys on the other.

The last time Simon was separated from Baron, in the Twos, he pined for him and didn’t really bond with the other (totally sweet) boy in his class. This social disorientation is exactly what I don’t want to see and fear will repeat. We’re three weeks away from what may well be Simon’s last year at KIP, and I was looking forward to his best year yet.

I’ve already had a chat with Shary about this to vent my spleen. I would have felt slightly bad about being so needy two years ago when I envisioned her keeping a file on me, but by now I’ve served as school treasurer, helped with fundraisers, subbed in the computer lab, built the school website, and otherwise earned a little face-time. She did her best to encourage me, saying that Simon will make friends and do just fine in either class next year.

“You’re worried about Simon?” she exclaimed. “Simon is the last kid at this school I’m worried about. He’s confident, popular, and smart. He’ll have a great year.”

I hope she’s right. Also, how lovely to hear this when just two short years ago everyone seemed to be worried about Simon.

*It’s not just at KIP. AJ also sports a dearth of boys in Simon’s age range. Unless all the boys are at day-care or different schools, I can’t figure it out.

** KIP does not make it a practice to put kids in the wrong class! When Aciek’s parents and adoptive grandparents looked into preschool for him, the Twos class was already over capacity. Since Aciek was only one year out of Kenya (his dad is a Lost Boy), was not yet fluent in English, and had had no Western-style socialization, Shary decided he could jump into the Threes, where there was space. There he learned how to make friends and follow instructions, and became fluent in English. Now he’s ready to repeat the year and follow the curriculum as designed.

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