Time to clear a few things up.
I care not one wit when you sent your kid to kindergarten. 4, 5, 6, 76 years old, makes no matter to me. My issue stems from the idea that sending a 5 year old to kindergarten when he is 5 is now considered early somehow. That premise cast a mighty web over what should have been a simple decision. He’s 5, he’s going.
So stop e-mailing me, unless you have millions of American dollars you need to transfer from your bank in Burkina Faso and just need my bank account numbers to send me the money.
Secondly, when I say it’s just kindergarten I don’t mean to belittle the institution of said kindergarten. The statement “It’s just kindergarten” comes from my experience of turning 5 on August 20th and my mother putting me on a bus two weeks later to go to kindergarten. I went to no pre-schools and no advanced day cares. I turned 5 two weeks before kindergarten started and I was sent to kindergarten. Simple as that. Now I will say I have six brothers and sisters older than me and one younger sister so there’s a good chance my mother was trying to ship as many of us out of the house as soon as possible. My experience with our second child, miss ultra heavy maintenance herself, is leading me to the same desire.
Ok armed with that info, plus what we gleaned from Frank’s pre-school teachers, the K-5 principal, and some very trusted neighbors, we now felt confident it was time to go to kindergarten. The last step was his pre-K evaluation where they gather what the tyke knows so as best to situate him in one of six kindergarten classes at his new school. Simple, smooth, no problem.
Well if you’ve read this blog at all you well know smooth just isn’t our style and simple is our mortal enemy. And the debate of him going or not was just waiting for a spark to re-ignite it.
His eval was on a Tuesday. The weekend just prior to that we all became deathly ill. That’s no exaggeration. Tracy ended up at the doctor and almost landed in the hospital and I was flat on my back for the two days before this pre-K eval. Frank waited to get sick until Sunday night into Monday. You can read it here if you like: Stomach virus we hardly knew ye! Anyway with the extra degree of difficulty thrown in to impress the Russian judges, we approached the day of evaluation.
By Tuesday morning I had lost nine pounds, had a pounding headache, and my vision was blurry. That’s three and a third pounds a day if you’re scoring at home. Frank, who was sick the day before, seemed fine. But he only weighs nine pounds so go figure. I don’t know if it all played a part in the ensuing hi-jinx but the kid who wanted to start kindergarten back in May before he finished pre-school was no longer interested in being a Rocky Hill Ram. So disinterested was he, that a small barricade appeared under the dinning room table and he basically dared me to go all ATF/FBI standoff with him.
Short of fuse and having not eaten in four days I upped the intensity and went Soviet Union style KGB, dragging him out kicking and screaming, no charges, no one phone call, no lawyer, no chance of freedom. Strapped in the paddy wagon, off we go to pre-K evaluation. And that’s where it got interesting.
We pulled in about 10 minutes early and I would need every one of those minutes to get it together. I no sooner had the van in park when my nose just started gushing blood. Absolutely no warning. I literally thought this might be the big one, the aneurysm to end them all. Since I had been cleaning the van the day before from our little holiday cancelled by our daughter’s projectile vomiting, there was a roll of paper towels in the front seat. Half a roll and ten minutes later the bleeding was under control. The front seat looked like a scene from the operating room in M*A*S*H. Undaunted we soldiered on. Well one soldier and one captive being dragged.
Besides the bleeding I became aware of the fact I was sweating like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Bloody and sweaty and hysterical, we were mere steps from inflicting ourselves on the good people at Rocky Hill, and me without my ozone depleting aerosol deodorant. Upon entry we happened on a mob assembled in the lobby of the school. Parents with their equally unwilling kindergartners-in-waiting, were actually waiting on a teacher to shepherd us all back to the classroom. In the nadir of that long wait, Frank decided pulling me back to the car would end his nightmare. Ah but I had deployed a defense without knowing it. I was sweating so badly, he kept slipping off me and falling to the floor.
First impressions are our specialty.
At last the teacher appears and, with a second and third glance at me, led us down the hall to the classroom. I was relieved now because we were in the hands of the professionals. I operate under the principal of the Roman Soldier in the bible who begs Jesus for help. The dude basically says, Bro don’t bother coming to my house just say she’ll be healed and I’m good. (slight paraphrase from the original greek) When I’m with people who know more than me and are in charge of their area, that’s how I do it. Just tell me you have it under control and I’m a willing sheep waiting to be herded. That sounded better in my head.
However, demonstrate you have not the slightest idea and act like this is the first time you’ve done this thing you’ve been doing for years, then I’m like the man people called Legion because he was possessed by so many demons. Anyway the kindergarten gang at Rocky Hill did not disappoint. They have a system and they work it to perfection. Willing sheep I was.
The midpoint of the hall was the moment of truth. A teacher stood holding a door to a classroom. She was in a funny stance, like she would be blocking parents from getting in. Guess what, that’s exactly what she was doing. A human wedge, she was separating child from parent. Child went in the room, parents kept moving down the hall. Three kids went full psycho. Never go full psycho. Frank went stiff, like those fainting sheep do. I gave him a quick hip check and in he went, head down, resigned to his fate and what he thought must be his imminent death.
We continue down the hall and I find a bathroom, finally. I felt like a giant. This can was designed for Lilliputians. It really threw me off. It was hard to get my bearings in there. It was no help anyway. I was only sweating a little now and the blood was almost gone, but I smelled like death on a stick and nothing would fix that.
In the classroom I go with the other parents. We are told to take a seat. No. Nope. Not in my most nimble of days could I sit in what the teacher referred to as a seat. That damn thing might as well have been a futon it was so low. The only plus side, after about five minutes other parents slowly adjusted themselves away from me and my cloud of death smell, leaving the midget table to me alone.
We get a briefing about what’s happening in the next room and then the forms come, always the forms to be filled out. Before I could focus on my favorite form, the volunteer form, a kid comes back from the other room. Then another appears, and another. All smiles these kids were. Then a few more. Now there are only a few parents left in the room. Balls. He must be bombing in there. He did tell me on the ride over the reason for his French Revolution style barricade. He was afraid he would do poorly and get things wrong on the test. That thought alone shows me he’s ready.
Well he was second to last coming back. This can’t be good for him or me. I know I’m getting it with both barrels when I get home.
Frank finally reappears, all smiles with a teacher who is also all smiles. She hands me the sheet of what he did and it was full of a lot of stuff. He did a lot. Weak in the area of sight words and letter sounds, strong with counting, number recognition and writing his name. All stuff we knew already. So it turns out the kids who were ultra smart and the kids who refused to speak came back first. The other kids, the middle of the pack kids came back according to how much they could do. So Frank was slightly above average. Hey man, I lived there through grade school and high-school and I turned our alrig… ok never mind.
Back in the van Frank was ready to start kindergarten again. He asked how he did. I said, “Frank, the fact that you were scared to death but went in the room anyway and then performed through that fear means you were perfect.” It wasn’t Vince Lombardi material but you know, it sufficed for a 5 year old. He had a smile and he was hungry.
Quick tip: never let a kid coming off a stomach virus have chik-fil-a no matter how well he does on his evaluation the next day. Stomach virus – 1 Daddy and mommy & daddy’s bed sheets – 0
Well needless to say, the news of his triumph was not well received in the homestead. Apparently middle of the pack will simply not do. Never mind the fact that both of his parents planted flags in the middle of the pack through our early school years and one of us stayed there through college. (pssst… not me)
After much debate, gnashing of teeth and renting of garments, the kid is going to kindergarten, we’re not moving to a new city, and balance has been restored to the force. I think. Stay tuned.
But he is going to kindergarten. I have proof. Check it:
His first mug shot. So proud!
As it turns out I’m the one who may not be ready for kindergarten. These people have rules and they enforce them. At pre-school I just showed up, a kid would yell “Frank your dad is here!” and Frank would come running, a teacher would mark him off the sheet and Frank would get in the van.
At kindergarten Frank has a number and I have a corresponding ID marker I need to display to pick him up. Helps if you actually bring that ID marker with you. I failed in that regard for the very first pick up. Second in line for pick up I felt something was not right. Again smooth is not our style. I look at the car in first position and damn it! I forgot my school ID.
So I break out my retired military ID and beg forgiveness. The first lady seemed OK with it but then disappeared back into the school. A second person wandered out, asked the same questions and wandered back into the school. OK I know when I’m being cased. I deserved it. Lesson learned. Contestant number three came out, gave me the once over and sent the high sign back toward the school doors. Out comes Frank with his teacher. I plead stupidity and she’s cool with that.
It’s really not my fault man. It’s this kid’s fault.
When does she start school?
Sending one kid off to school has done nothing to lessen the chaos on the homefront. In fact I think she feels more free now that she has my full attention.
But don’t you worry Anne Marie, pre-school is coming for you in a few weeks.
Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty I’m almost…..