Kindergarten Orientation

by gillis

We perched on round cafeteria seats as the power point flashed up on the screen. In between anxiety attacks about readiness (Wait, the kids are supposed to be reading before coming to kindergarten?) I scoped out the crowd. I was glad to see some gray heads in the room and hoped they were parents and not grandparents. Maybe I wouldn’t be the oldest mother in the group after all. The teachers each took turns introducing themselves and the curriculum (Wait, they do more than play, sing, learn to share, and take turns in kindergarten?) and I looked around again. I was beginning to feel a little better about things when I realized my kid was actually one of the quieter ones in this crowd. He was displaying some fine self control. Even if it was fear-based, I’d take it. He was sitting, not running, not shouting, not crying. Thank goodness, I was then free to pass judgment on the families with the unruly kids.

We toured the classrooms and I took a look at the lengthy intake sheet for registration. Apparently I missed the memo about   keeping extensive records of my son’s developmental  milestones along the way as evidenced by the number of questions I could not answer. Like, when did he first crawl? Probably the first time I pissed him off by not handing him something he really wanted like toy or a cracker. I was pretty proud of myself for knowing his first word, “duhwa.” It was a version of his sister’s name that bears little resemblance to her actual name, but it did the trick. She knew he was calling her and she responded. Beyond that, I could no more state when he spoke his first two-word phrase or first sentence than I could tell them the atomic mass of cobalt. Wait, actually I could tell them the atomic mass of cobalt because I could look that up. According to my sources it’s 58.933195 ± 0.000005 u. Go ahead, check it. Seriously, did these folks think I was Martha-freaking-Stewart with a series of baby books full of this stuff? I could have told them about the first time his language skills made me sit up and take notice because it happened recently when he answered my scream of, “Get in the car– NOW!” with the response, ” But I haven’t finished gathering my selected items to bring in my toy bag yet!!”  That one got my attention. I dropped my bag containing the items I had selected while I processed what he said. I also have no idea when he first walked. I know, I know, that’s a biggie, but I didn’t document it, so I can only guess that happened around one year and it hasn’t stopped since. He’s advanced to performing acts of  parkour around the house these days, he has some mad ninja skills, and as he likes to remind us, he’s got the moves like Jagger.

Other questions also had me stumped. Do we have any concerns about our son? Ummm, yep. We do. Yes we do. We’re concerned that his hearing is impaired because while he can clearly hear a plastic bag crinkle from two rooms away, he cannot hear us call him for dinner from this same distance. We worry that perhaps he has a developmental disorder when he laughs uproariously like a drunken swashbuckler in our face as we threaten/sanction/remove him for doing things that are unsafe/unsanitary/unsavory. We are also concerned that he seems able to build intricate things with Legos and blocks but is unable to flush a toilet consistently. Likewise, his ability to eat things like fish sticks he has dunked into chocolate milk coupled with his  inability to choke down a single cooked carrot without gagging has us, if not concerned, then puzzled. I hope these concerns will all be addressed by the curriculum in kindergarten.

Another favorite question asked if  he showed signs of special ability in areas such as music, athletics, or art. That seemed dependent on what “special” meant in this case. If an ability to sing the same line of the same song with the same intonation and same volume 40-50 times in a row from the back seat of a car out of arm’s reach is considered a special musical ability, then, yes, he has a gift. If drawing elaborate maps on himself and the furniture counts as artistic expression, he has that too. His athletic ability has been hampered thus far by the laws of gravity and the space-time continuum, but with time he may find ways to over come that as well. I think the school will be unwrapping his gifts for quite some time.

With this line of questions taxing me, I finally admitted that I needed to take this registration packet home to mull over so that the lies I crafted sounded at least plausible and made it seem like we were sincerely trying to raise a decent human being.  We packed up and headed out. In the car, we debriefed about the visit and I had to break the news to the little guy that kindergarten did not start until the fall. He thought he’d be heading in there the next morning. He thought about it for moment then said, “That’s ok, maybe by then all the classrooms will have real Legos. I’ll only go to a classroom with real Legos in it.”  Good luck kindergarten.