I would like to report a theft. Kindergarten has stolen my child’s heart.
Our son’s first kindergarten “visit” is behind us now and has left in its wake a newly minted “big kid.” It was a nice idea, this field trip to kindergarten future, intended to familiarize children prior to the big day next September. And I wanted him to like it. Really I did. Just, perhaps, not quite so much.
When raising a child from infancy it’s so important to teach them self-esteem, self-worth, and self-reliance. But is it selfish to imagine that it needn’t manifest itself all at once?
I dropped off a gap-toothed, baby-faced boy and and in his place was returned an intrepid adventurer familiar with playground etiquette and the wilds of the lunch line. I don’t remember signing a permission slip for that.
The visit. On the morn of the visit we reported for duty at 8:50 a.m. on the spot, and were duly signed in, paid up (lunch $1.50!) and name-tagged into a receiving line of like-minded kindergarten wanna-be’s. Kindergarten teachers, no doubt well-versed in the rigors of dealing with doting mothers, certainly know how to cull the herd.
Before we knew what hit us, we mothers found ourselves on the wrong side of the big glass doors trying in vain to mouth words of comfort to children who were too excited to notice we’d gone. We moved slowly en masse toward our cars, lingering in the parking lot “just in case” our children might need us. Not a single one of them did.
Thus, finally did we disperse, wondering throughout the morning how our “babies” were faring in the wide open world of modern day public schooling. We’ve seen those pre-teen movies about primary grade angst – we know it’s a blackboard jungle out there.
Finally, 11:30 a.m. rolled around – the longest two hours and 40 minutes of my LIFE (not that I was watching the clock or anything) and I sped to the school to retrieve my baby from the clutches of public education. Narrowly missing clipping a few like-minded mothers sprinting toward the doors to “save” their children who must surely be missing them terribly by now. Or perhaps not.
While squiring our son and his little friend (I can still refer to him as a “little friend?” That’s not to “uncool” or anything? Or is “uncool” not cool? Maybe it’s “phat” or “unphat” – “low phat?” Whatever)
In a nutshell. I was treated to an exhilarating narration of the wonders of kindergarten which were generally summed up thus: Music makes you happy, computers are smart, big kids – alas – don’t get to make crafts everyday, and things go a lot smoother when everybody takes turns. A metaphor for life, really.
Proving that the way to even the littlest man’s heart is through his stomach, both boys went on – at length – about how lunch was “the most deliciousest food ever!” Apparently, my own salad and spaghetti has nothing on our local elementary’s.
I’m still stung from knowing that not only does my cooking not promise fond future memories of anything tasting “just like mom used to make” but that I have, in fact, been outclassed by cafeteria food. For this I pay property taxes?
The days since the visit have been all about kindergarten, the rules, the regulations, the importance of hand-washing (gee, why didn’t I think of that), and the ability to tie one’s own shoes. There is, it seems, no turning back.
Takes trust. It occurs to me that this was the first time I had handed my child over to people that I had not completely and thoroughly vetted myself. That while I knew where he was, I had no idea with whom my son would interact. That handing over your “baby” to the public education system engenders a significant amount of trust on the part of a parent.
Trust that the system is safe, secure, and knowledgeable in the choice of personnel to counsel your child. Trust that your child will be nurtured, nourished, and returned to you whole at the end of the day. More importantly, trust that your ‘baby’ won’t grow up behind your back, or more likely in the lunch line, overnight.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is more leery of kindergarten than her child is. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)