I love school. I love it so much I spent six extra years with it. I went into mounds of debt to pay for it, and still think of seasons as semesters and summer sessions.
I love school because I know exactly what to expect from it. It is a system that is easy to work within, once you know the rules.
So when I took my five-year-old to register for kindergarten, I was as excited as he was. Possibly even more so.
I wanted to skip and kick up my heels as we walked into the school, but to teach my child appropriate school behavior, I walked in normally with excitement teeming from my pores.
Some other prospective kindergarteners were not as excited. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth from one end of the room, refusal to cooperate with a hearing screening from another. Wide eyes and nervous jitters from abounded. Fears abated when familiar faces of preschool friends appeared.
Wiggly bodies fought to control themselves while parents completed a stack of paperwork. Writing my son’s name instead of mine on the “Student Name” line seemed like a trick question, but I caught it and aced that section. The essay question at the end posed more of a challenge, as it asked if there is a way my child learns best and if I have any specific concerns.
Was answering that I want someone to love him like I do (not too much — he’s still mine) but be better at teaching him math so he won’t struggle like I did asking too much?
How about suggesting that he be praised for creativity and imagination instead of only worrying about test scores? What about requesting that he be protected from bullies and kids toting guns to school and burnt out teachers – was that over the line?
As my boy was led off to his assessment, nervousness caught in my throat. Would they see how smart and adorable and sweet he is? Would he remember his phone number that I taught him by singing it to the tune of “Happy Birthday”? What about the obscure body parts we named because friends with older children told me some of those questions stumped their kids?
With my heart beating loudly in my ears minutes later, I shook the tiny, soft hand of the impossibly young teacher who assessed my precious baby boy who was also just born the other day.
Because she is obviously a child genius and mature for her age, she recognized his superior intellect and appreciated his bouncy boyish nature. She assuaged all of my fears that he somehow had not been prepared enough to enter the labyrinthine system that is public school.
My baby is going to kindergarten in August. He’s ready — and so am I.
This piece was originally published in the April 11, 2012 edition of the Fort Mill Times.