Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From the vault: First day

Ed: Today's post was originally published on September 5, 2007 on The Kid's first day of kindergarten. Today was his last day of the 3rd grade, so the reflection seemed appropriate. It seems like only yesterday...

I just dropped off The Kid for his first day of kindergarten.

Wait. I need to pause for a moment to process that. It just doesn't seem possible.

Okay. So, as I was saying, I just dropped off The Kid for his first day of kindergarten. We've spent the last week frantically traveling to every Target, Fred Meyer, and Bartell's for miles trying to gather up all the necessary school supplies. (Do you remember being required to bring 24 glue sticks on your first day of school? All the more for the kids to eat, I guess...) And we have been very, very excited to start "real" school. At least up until 11:00 last night, when I walked past The Kid's room wondering how on earth he could still be awake, and heard him crying. "I'm excited, but I'm scared too," he sobbed.

No tears this morning, though (for either of us). He loaded up his camouflage Kermit the Frog back back - complete with faux peace patches "sewn" on - with his lunch, a change of clothes (because there are apparently a lot of accidents the first week of school), and a folder for his homework. Because they do that now: homework in kindergarten.

We got to school and (im)patiently waited for the first bell to ring along with all of the other (im)patient children. (At least I think they were children. They looked a lot like backpacks with legs, but I'm assuming there were heads and faces and arms hidden in there somewhere.) And then finally, when the suspense was almost too much to bear, we were allowed into the building.

The Kid is in the same class as three of his preschool classmates, so the first order of business was finding them and comparing backpacks, lunch boxes, and water bottles. Once that was completed, we set off to find The Kid his cubby and his desk. Then we colored a picture of a picnic basket (to indicate that The Kid brought his own lunch) and a picture of a car (to indicate that The Kid will be picked up by his mommy this afternoon).

And then the adults went about unloading all of the schools supplies. So, as I was mentioning, things have changed a bit since I was in school. For one thing, kindergarten is an all day affair and they've traded naps for homework. For another, "peechees" are now called "folders." And finally: the supplies you send to school with your child on the first day do not actually belong to your child. Instead, everything goes into giant bins for the entire class to share. And some of the supplies struck me as a little odd: two dozen glue sticks, tulip bulbs, 1 yard of clean fabric, clorox wipes, box of kleenex, hand sanitizer, a check for $30. But whatever.

So as the children colored, the adults began sorting the supplies into the proper bins, clearly labeled in neat block letters. Regular markers in the bin labeled "markers;" white board markers in the bin marked "dry erase;" glue sticks in the bin labeled "shit load o' glue sticks;" and so on.

But uh oh! What's this? There's no bin labeled "elmers glue." Have you seen the bin for the glue? Is it over there? I don't see it. And oh my god! What about the bulbs? There's no bulb bin. Do you know where I should put my bulbs? I don't know where to put my bulbs. SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS, I CAN'T FIND THE BULB BIN!!

And so we wandered the classroom, each parent anxiously clutching a bottle of glue and a bag of bulbs, until eventually we all reached the same conclusion: search as we might, we were not going to find the properly labeled bins we sought. At that point, you would think that one reasonably sane adult would simply pick a clear spot on the counter and create a bulb pile there. Surely the teacher would recognize a pile of bulbs, even without the tidy block-lettered label. But this isn't real life, this is KINDERGARTEN, and you can't just go around creating bulb and glue piles willy nilly. First, you must ask the teacher. And so, one parent finally asked where she'd like the glue and bulbs.

But before he asked? He raised his hand.

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