Back in the Stone Age when I went to kindergarten, it was no big deal. I don’t remember my first day or much of anything except that my best friend was a girl named Sarah Lynn, and there was a little boy named Robert whom I chased around the playground declaring my undying love (yes, I was a little hussy). I always got lefty scissors because I knew I was left handed, but since I couldn’t tell the difference between my left hand and my right hand, I was blissfully unaware that I was cutting right handed, and those damn lefty scissors never worked.
There were two classes—the Red Birds and the Blue Birds. The Blue Birds were the older class, and because I had a November birthday I was in there for two years. There was no uniform, and the curriculum was simply art, colors, letters, numbers, recess, and more art. Our day ended at noon and we had show-and-tell every Friday.
Fast forward to Jax Bean, age 5, in the 21st century. In May he graduated from the Wee School. The Wee School is very small preschool run by some very good Baptist women who are assured a place in heaven for their kindness and their forbearance. Any other school would have surely kicked Moose out by the time he started crawling.
And so it was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to the good ladies at the Wee School* and said hello to the great big world of kindergarten where they have a UNIFORM policy. Class is a full 7-hour day, and a crazy one at that—they eat lunch at 10:30 a.m. They have a curriculum that includes math, science, social studies, and reading. There are all kinds of policies and paperwork, and to enroll him, not only did I have to submit his birth certificate, social security card, immunization record, a light bill, and a tax bill, I had to sign and have notarized an affidavit that said that I live where I say I live and swear under oath that Jax comes from a bedbug-free home.
No one sent a letter acknowledging our application for enrollment, but sometime last spring even though I’m on the National Do Not Call Registry, I started getting calls every couple of days from the principal on my cell phone and my landline with important, prerecorded messages, and to cover all bases, I got emails, too, with links to the important, prerecorded messages.
Despite all of this and despite the fact that I had to spend a month’s salary on school supplies (can one kid really use 12 glue sticks and 4 bottles of Elmer’s in one year?), Jax began kindergarten last Wednesday.
I was a wreck. I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was in knots and I had to take the day off of work. Jax, on the other hand, was blasé, and even appeared to be relieved when Mimi and my camera and I finally left him in class.
Every 30 minutes, I wondered what he was doing. At 10:30, I thought about him eating lunch, at 12:00 I wondered if he was homesick, at 1:30 I wondered if he had any friends, and then finally at 3:15, I was en route to pick him up.
We were all en route to pick him up. Papa and Sissy rode their bikes the four miles up the trail, and Mimi and Moose and I drove. There was a traffic jam in the pickup line, and while we sat in line barely inching ahead, Papa and Sissy passed us by.
Minutes later, I got a call that they had him, so we did a U-turn and headed for Maison Bean. Ten minutes after we got home, Sissy and Jax arrived on the tandem. Papa, who had been more affected by the first day of kindergarten than he let on, had taken a detour to load up on spirits.
When Papa got home, he reported that as Jax put on his helmet to get on the tandem, one of the other kids had said, “That’s soooo cool.”
Mimi and I cornered Jax, asking question after question, but he wasn’t talking, so I sent his teacher an email, and she wrote back that he had had a good day, but I worried the rest of the week.
Over the weekend, out of the blue, Jax said to me, “Mommy, you know that new school I’m going to? I really like it a lot.”
And I then I called Mimi to tell her he was okay, and we were both relieved.
*Moose has been accepted to the preschool class at the same school, and he begins next Tuesday. But more than likely, he’ll get kicked out, and I’ll have to send him back to the Baptists.