Thursday, September 07, 2006

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days...


Did I cry? You all want to know. Inquiring minds want to know.

***************

I drove Primo to school, this first morning, as I wasn’t sure how long it would take to walk, and I did not want to be late.

I walked him into school, after snapping many photos outside, in front of the impressive brick edifice that is his elementary school. I found him the correct row of seats for morning assembly. Then after the principal greeted the assembled schoolchildren, the kids pledged allegiance to the flag, and they sang “America the Beautiful,” they filed out of the auditorium, and we took them to their classrooms.

Even though Paxson is a magnet school, it does draw families from the neighborhood, so we knew some of the kids already, about which I was very pleased. Even if it is just a girl you run into at the playground, or a boy you met playing with the Thomas trains at the bookstore, it’s still a familiar face and that can go along way to making a little guy feel comfortable in a new place and a new situation.

***************

I did not cry.

Neither did Primo.

Several other children did, copiously and loudly, shrieking and sobbing and clinging to their parents. I hustled Primo past them, shielding his eyes as if from a car wreck: “Nothing to see here. Move along…” Didn’t want him getting any ideas; those sorts of fits can be contagious.

Primo found his chair, and took off his backpack, and looked around.
R, our babysitter, had walked up to the school with Seg and Terzo, and Primo seemed pleased to see Terzo crawling around on the carpet and trying to gnaw on the chair legs. His place was labeled with his name, and in front of his chair was a nice big box of markers and new crayons.

At 930, all the kindy parents were meant to meet in the auditorium, to go through a brief orientation with the very wonderful and very enthusiastic new principal. I kissed Primo, told him to be a good boy and listen to his teacher, and that we would be back to pick him up at the end of his day.
He said, “Are you leaving ENTIRELY?”
I told him I was meeting with the principal and then, yes, we would be walking home.
Deep breath.
“OK.”
And he squared his little shoulders bravely, turned to face the desk, and commenced his school career.

***************

When I saw him in the hallway after the meeting, he smiled and waved jauntily.

***************

I decided that the first day of kindergarten was a banner occasion, so I called work to tell them I would be late and went to pick him up myself. He was one of the last kids out of the school, and he emerged holding hands with the new principal (whom I know from my job, but that is a different story for a different day – maybe). There was some craziness involving children boarding the wrong buses, or not boarding the bus at all, and the teachers all looked little frazzled and Primo’s kindy teacher looked, quite frankly, EXHAUSTED. But the parents and the teachers got everything sorted, and all the kids where they were meant to be.

***************

I may have the world’s most uncommunicative five-year-old. I was of course excited to hear ALL ABOUT the day.

Me: How was your day? What did you do?
P: Um, colored things [waving a popsicle stick to which is attached a colored-in school bus cutout with a song printed on the back about slithering to school as if you were a snake.]
[What did I expect, essays on Wittgenstein? Particle physics homework?]
Me: Did you do anything else? [Oh my sweet Jesus, this is just like pulling teeth. Why oh why do I not have an emotive girlchild?? L’s daughter RAN into her arms and HUGGED her at the end of the day. Humph.]
P: We had to rest. On cots.
Me: Did you sleep? [Hahahahahaahaa! Primo has not napped since he was two, when I got tired of rocking and singing for an hour to get him to nap for forty-five minutes.]
P: No.
Me: Did you read?
P: Our teacher said no reading on the first day.
[When I saw Mrs. P after school, I understood why the poor woman just wanted twenty-five supine children in rows on cots, no talking, no reading, Christ, please don’t even BREATHE loudly!]
Me: Did you eat your lunch?
P: Yeah. I didn’t drink my water though.
Me: What did you drink?
P: Chocolate milk. They just had milks out on a table and you took what you wanted. I wanted chocolate milk.
Me: Ok. We’ll figure out how to buy milk everyday. Did you eat your applesauce?
P: No.
Me: [Why then is it NOT IN YOUR LUNCHBOX? Those things COST MONEY. You can’t just THROW THEM AWAY.] Ok.
P: I didn’t eat all my blueberries or tortilla chips either, but I just threw the containers – the bags - out.
Me: Ok. Did you get my note? [lovingly plastered with stickers and hearts and mushy sentiments, I know, I am a dork.]
P: Yeah. Hey, Mom, nobody cared that my shirt wasn’t tucked in (this accompanied by giant grin, like, “I got one over on the MAN!”)
Can I play table baseball when I get home, with Miss R?
Me: Yep. (Sorta to myself:) Did you have a good day? Tell me, what did you do? Well, what would you do if your mother asked YOU?
P: (Giggle.)

12 comments:

Paula said...

You've got quite a young man there.

I use to ask my boys to tell me what the most interesting thing they did at school that day. It worked well most of the time.

Joke said...

Me: How was school today?
NOS: Good.
Me: Cool.

I'd DIE if a child of mine wanted me to hear all about the day at school. Die, I tell you. When my niece comes over, she starts telling me how her day went in real time and I feel my insides trying to suffocate me. Thank the good Lord for my wife.

-J.

Lazy cow said...

So glad it went well. I felt quite bereft, but got over it. Teaching kindy/prep must be the hardest job ever - the Girl's teacher looks exhausted by Friday.
I never ask the Girl what she did anymore. She usually ends up telling me, in dribs and drabs, throughout the evening.
At her school they make the kids (how?) put their uneaten lunches back in their lunchbags. I *make* her eat hers on the walk home from school, or no other food till dinner.
Primo had a lie down? That is so cute. They certainly don't do it at any schools I know of.

Miz S said...

I was also surprised to hear about the nap. I work in one of those high-pressure school districts where the poor kindy kids WORK LIKE DOGS all damn day.

Badger said...

Yeah, my girl child is like Joke's niece. She not only tells us EVERY SINGLE THING she did from the moment she woke up until the moment we asked her about her day, but every thought that crossed her mind, and all the things those thoughts reminded her of, and then she'll end up weeping over the fact that some dog in our family died like five years previous. Oy.

My boy, on the other hand, makes Primo look verbose.

Gina said...

Pulling teeth, indeed. Wednesday was an excpetion, though, as the following excitement was reported: "AZ lost a tooth, it was KH's birthday, and NP puked."

An action-packed day, indeed!

blackbird said...

are you leaving ENTIRELY?

that cracks me up...
I always ask who they had lunch with...it tends to bring out SOME conversation.

blackbird said...

Oh, and Middle reported that it didn't suck too badly...
and Youngest ADORED IT and told me plenty.

Sarah Louise said...

...and to think that I saw it on Mulberry street...

Paxson sounds like a good school. I saw folks driving and parking on my block (the magnet parents) to walk their kids down to the school.

jess said...

The "ENTIRELY?" just kills me.

We had little roll-up blankets (which my mom handmade for me, as I think most of our moms did) that we had naptime on. I remember carefully rolling & tying mine just so.

Carolyn said...

I can't remember how my first daughter did on her first day. :(

But my second marched off like a trooper. She didn't want me to follow because she was "a big girl."

It's a sad feeling watching the babies grow up.

Suse said...

I learnt pretty quickly that "What did you do today" brings the response "Nothing."

Now I say "What was the best thing that happened today?" and I get a few replies about drama, or soccer at lunchtime, or origami in Japanese lessons.

Until last week when Son #1's reply was "The bell went."