Tuesday, March 31, 2009

At least one of us got a gold star today

Dear Ittybit,

You slipped into the shower with me this morning, wanting your first kindergarten experience to be clean of preschool dirt, no doubt.

You dug through your dresser looking for the shirt a friend had given you because you'd decided to wear it to the big interview: kindergarten registration day.

You were sure the bright yellow hand-me-down was a "Kindegarten" shirt, since it was bequeathed to you by a kindergartener. But when you pointed to a word and I read it as "Preschool," you put it back and selected an alternate.

"I want to wear jeans, mama," you said to my surprise. "Big girls wear jeans," you explained.

But you didn't have any jeans; I'd long ago stopped buying them since you prefer soft, stretchy pants. You settled for a pair of purple corduroys with riveted pockets that were wadded up in the back of a lower drawer, one of last children's apparel purchases I made without your approval.

We were just about ready.

Your father had left the paperwork up to me. I'd collected the information - immunization records, birth certificate, registration forms, proof of residence - the previous night.

We were all excited.

You were going to be great. We all knew it. Lori even told you you'd be the best kid in the whole world, and everyone would see it.

Of course, when we arrived in the office and met the principal's assistant you were all hello and how-do-you-do ... "Will I meet my teacher today?"

When a woman came to get you and bring you to your screening, where you would play some games that would decide your placement, you never looked back. You are not so much brave as you are confident.

As you were reciting numbers and letters (and getting gold stars for showing the nice ladies with the clipboards how you could cut with scissors and catch a ball) we were afraid of getting sent to remedial parenting school.

I'd missed half of the forms that needed to be turned in, and had to quickly scribble them out as your dad tried to cover by cracking jokes and asking questions.

We look sheepishly back as the mother behind us got praise for getting all the forms filled out properly. Our shoulders slump just a little bit.

When we are brought together to meet the principal, we become THOSE parents; the one's who are afraid you won't be seen for who you are; the one who will be molded into student who repeats information by rote.

I admitted to the smiling woman behind the desk that we have no doubt that you are ready for school and that you will do well. We are not worried about your abilities at all. I tell her we are the ones who are scared. We are the one's who will have trouble fitting in.

She nods her head with something in her face that says she knows us better that we know ourselves.

With love, and promises to work on getting more gold stars,



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