The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Lunch Lessons

Jonas started Kindergarten on Wednesday. At Meet the Teacher Night I resisted the urge to tell her he’s a lunatic because my mother said it’s a bad idea to bias the teacher against your kid before he even walks through the door. And I see her point. Although if you see a speeding train coming, it seems like just good manners to poke the guy standing on the tracks and say, Buddy, you might want to get out of the way.

I did put my name on a list to volunteer to help at lunchtime one day the first week so I could see for myself how Jo was handling the transition to real full-day school. Yesterday I showed up at his classroom a few minutes before lunch to help out.

The experience was… disturbing:

1. As I walked in the door, my kid leapt out of his seat and wrapped himself around my leg. When I said, “Dude, I’m happy to see you, but how about you stand up?” he hissed at me, because apparently he’s made the full transition into wildebeest.

2. The teacher had the kids sitting at their tables coloring little paper books about a monkey. My kid (once I detached him from my leg) was literally the only one in class who flat out refused to color. “I hate coloring. HATE IT,” he announced.

3. After I’d given up trying to talk Jonas into participating in the activity and left him to sit, sullenly in his chair, I walked around the class and talked to the other kids about their coloring. One sweet-faced little five year old girl was drawing a penis on the monkey. I made a mental note of her name to add to the list of kids who aren’t allowed to be alone with my son.

4. When the teacher rang a bell (apparently the attention getting signal in this class) and gave an instruction to the class, only a third of the students did anything close to what she was requesting. About a third continued doing exactly what they’d been doing before she started talking and the remainder very purposefully did an entirely other activity than what she had told them. OK, I know the teacher just told us to do something, but I don’t remember what it was. She’s looking at us expectantly. It must have been go sit on the mat. She tells us that lots of times a day. Or go get my backpack? That’s one seems wrong for some reason… It’s probably go play over at the play kitchen, right? I’m gonna go with that one. 

It seems like she could have shouted out any direction and gotten exactly the same result. *Ding* OK, students, everyone put on your space helmets and fly to the moon… Alright, good job to Tommy, Maddie, Declan, Riley and Sarah who are all lined up correctly against the wall!

5. Walking 30 five year olds all the way across campus in an alphabetic single file line might be the most harrowing experience of my life. I still have a splitting headache that I’m fairly certain can be attributed specifically to this activity. Literally begging a group of small, blonde girls to Please, PLEASE keep up with the rest of the line, as they plodded, sluggishly while holding hands in solidarity against me and all common sense was a low point in my life. This was the moment I felt most certain they do not pay these teachers enough.

6. After we made it through lunch and recess and the teacher came out to the playground to gather the kids and march them back to the room, she counted the all and came up one short. After we’d searched the small playground and didn’t find any more children from Room 60, I thought to myself, Eh, she probably counted wrong. It’s fine. Let’s just take these kids inside, I’m exhausted. Another one will probably appear as some point. 

So… you know, A: It’s a really good thing I went against the family legacy and did not become a teacher and B: I’m kind of a terrible person.

The teacher eventually spotted little Maja enthusiastically swinging nearby with a group of second graders.

7. When my duty was finally finished and I was leaving the classroom to walk to my car, another mom from the classroom next door was also walking out. She told me about her experience with lunch duty next door and how she was supposed to come back next week and do it again, but she didn’t know if it was a good idea because her kid had cried when she left and she felt like maybe she was causing him to regress by being there. “So your son was OK when you left?” she asked me. “When I’d been there 10 minutes he told me he wanted me to leave and never come back. As I was walking out the door he said, FINALLY,” I told her.

When I got home, I took a nap. I’m going to listen to Jonas and never go back.

3 Responses to Lunch Lessons

  1. Fact: Kindergarteners scare the hell out of me (My daughter will be one in a matter of days).

    They’re like a horrible science experiment gone wrong between prison gangs and wild animals and a whole lot of ADD. Luckily, most of their weapon-making ability hasn’t developed yet. Otherwise, we’d be in serious trouble.

  2. I feel your pain. I was a kindergarten aid for 4 long years. Try doing that for 6 hours a day every day.

    The thing is this is what kindergarten is for. The first weeks are the tough ones but eventually the kids figure out resistance is futile. Eventually the teacher will assign consequences or rewards as needed. The kids will figure out which kids are troublemakers and use various methods to get the uncooperative ones to compromise. Keep showing up, your teacher needs you. Don’t be Jo’s Mom, be Mrs. Newlin who comes in once a week to help out. If every other kid likes you then yours won’t be so… embarrassed? Peer pressure is HUGE in kindergarten.

  3. HA HA HA, you just made me relive my life as a kindergarten teacher. You my dear are a brave soul, and deserved that nap! Every now and then I would actually do my attention grabbing clapping in rhythm thing and ask the kids to do a jig just to see who was listening. It worked better than clapping over and over again. Flying the moon is what most kindergartners think when anyone is talking to them, right?

    You have done a great job with Jonas. He is your last and he is very independent! He is going to rule the world when he grows up!

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