Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back in my day… Some Reflections and Thoughts on Kindergarten

Before writing about kindergarten, I first began to contemplate sleep – or my lack thereof. Why can’t I get any? Why won’t anyone in my house let me sleep?

I remember being Bruce’s age and even younger and being able to get up, turn on the TV and watch it until someone else woke up. And I think sometimes, SOMETIMES, I actually did sit quietly and watch TV until someone FINALLY woke up. All this would occur by about 7:15 AM. I was wondering to my mother why Bruce couldn’t or wouldn’t do this. Well, she told me. Moms are good at this. She said, “Well, Anne it was XX years ago.” (she used the actual number of years ago – let’s just say that’s it’s double digits over 20) “No one can work your television, it has 2 remotes.”

That got me to thinking. I didn’t think I was old enough to make a statement like this, BUT….. When I was Bruce’s age watching television was much simpler. There was a box, maybe about 18 inches square. To turn it on, you had to walk, WALK up to it and physically pull a knob. As if that’s wasn’t enough, to change the channel you had to turn a dial around- WITH YOUR HAND. You probably got about 9 channels if you were lucky. Early in the morning cartoons would be on one channel, so all I had to do was turn the knob until I found the station with the cartoons.

Today, I’ve got two remotes and hundreds of channels. Bruce can’t operate it – neither can my parents for that matter.

Conversely, in all other matters, save televisions, the world as decided that the parents of today are idiots. Before Bruce was born, I had to attend a childbirth class. As if that process is going to vary vastly from someone’s who had not attended the class. I’m going to be a rebel and not attend this round. I’ll let ya know if I end up with a baby at the end or not…

I also had to attend an orientation for the pediatrician. I needed to sit in a meeting for 1 ½ hours to learn how to take my child to the doctor. Yes, I’m perfectly serious. Prior to becoming pregnant, I’d managed to get myself to the doctor successfully any number of times. But probably the same person who decided I required a childbirth class, decided I needed pediatrician orientation.


He's wearing Nike's. 
I thought those WERE cool shoes. 
They cost enough...
 Bruce began kindergarten last month. Man was I ready. No tears here. I’ve read how many schools host a “Back to School Cry Party” for the parents to attend after they drop off children. That’s ridiculous! Who has time for this???? We celebrate mediocrity and helicopter parent enough. We used to at least take the first day of school off, but no longer apparently. Bruce’s school doesn’t have one, but I assure you they host other useless events.

Now this is public school kindergarten in Cleveland, Tennessee. Before the first day of school I’d filled out more forms than I care to count. Bruce had toured the school, been “screened” and tested and I had filled out more forms.

Then, you guessed it, there was Kindergarten Orientation. I have to go to a meeting to learn how to take my child to school. (Interesting aside about Cleveland at this point – we are one of only about 10 families in town who have not lived here all of our lives.) Everyone has family here. Everyone… Many can’t comprehend why you would live somewhere without family here. Two words JOB and PAYCHECK)

Anyway Bruce and I turn up to orientation. He comes with me because preschool is over, it’s a Tuesday afternoon and the husband is off dealing with that pesky job and paycheck scenario. I’m positive Bruce will not be the only child at orientation – I’m wrong. As we all cram ourselves into those miniscule kindergarten sized seats in the classroom, I ask aloud (and rhetorically), “Where are your children.” The answer comes at me in unison, “At my mom’s!” Of course they are. Of course they are.

There was also a Parent Volunteer Orientation. This was the only one that was almost valuable. Luckily this took place during school hours.

Grandparent’s Day
The second or third week of school there is a Grandparents Day breakfast. This is being played up significantly in the classroom and I have to explain again and again to Bruce that he will not be participating. I don’t understand the need Grandparents Day here anyway. EVERYDAY IS GRANDPARENT’S DAY! Your grandmother probably picks you up from school several times a week. You see her at least twice a week and at church on Sunday. Your grandparents attends every school function sporting event in you have a part. And NOW we need an extra something for grandparents and children. Really???

At some point the definition of homework changed and I did not was not informed. Back in my day homework began at about the second grade and was generally to be completed by the student independently. That is no longer the case. Kindergarteners have homework every night! He can’t read so this requires lots of help from me. Here’s what – I’ve been to kindergarten. On some level I resent having to do it again. Honestly, watching him decide to pick up his bike and ride it was far more valuable a lesson than "sight words!"

Coming of Age
After careful consideration, the
Tooth Fairy brought $2
As Bruce walked into kindergarten, my little innocent boy full of sweetness and amazement at life walked out of my life. He’s worried about what others think of him. He’s asking for expensive electronic toys. He doesn’t believe his shoes are the coolest so he needs new ones. Each day I hear about the drama of who gets to swing a recess and who got a yellow card by their name. Sometimes kids are not nice to him.  Sometimes he's not nice either.  But there are changes that appear miraculous as well. They are teaching him to read. He lost a tooth. He finally started riding his two-wheeler. He’s playing baseball. This is actual baseball and he seems to comprehend the game somewhat. Unlike his previous forays into organized sports, the spectators don’t necessarily wish they’d brought alcohol to get through it.

But look; it’s almost 2:00 PM and school lets out at 2:45. I guess I’d better hurry up and get in that car pick up line. And THAT (the frustration with the car pickup line) is something that hasn’t changed. Thank goodness there’s something.

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