A new chapter
It’s time for back to school!
Oh, wait. Are you just starting school?
I feel you. I remember my son’s first days of kindergarten (a big topic in this issue, as you will see).
It all started the winter before his 5th birthday.
His school hosted a Kindergarten Round Up, an afternoon event at which preschoolers and their parents were promptly separated — with parents going to a meeting and all the kids rounded up for a bus ride and other activities.
After this unsettling, unexpected division, we parents sat agitated in plastic folding chairs before a giant projector screen.
Lights were dimmed and a slideshow of darling children from the previous year of kindergarten began.
Its soundtrack was the acoustic, sob-including We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes:
Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends
I can tell that we are gonna be friends.
Well. I’d never been one to mourn the fleeting stages of childhood.
Babyhood? Pfft. Good riddance to colic, constant nursing and shrieking.
Toddlerhood. It was dang cute, but — eh — we’re good here.
But this? Oh, no. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my boy’s preschool days — full of hugs and kisses from teachers, detailed daily reports and schoolwork that seemed quaint.
Public elementary school, only by comparison, looked like The System. There were expectations. And 600 children in one building, including sixth graders.
And why weren’t there fences all the way around the gigantic playground? Where was the daily schedule to account for every second of my boy’s day? And why wasn’t his teacher more, you know, huggy?
I wept only a couple tears during the video, but even that was a feat.
When I came up for air, I learned about the amazing curriculum, the fabulous culture of caring (“Kind. Safe. Ready.”) and the house-made muffins.
And then, my May-born boy — who had found a current preschool buddy on the bus ride! — came back to me, beaming, proud and ready, even if I wasn’t.