So, after filling out the necessary ream of paperwork and leaving enough emergency numbers that the president could reach me in a time of crisis, I signed my child up for kindergarten. After handing the encyclopedia of information off to the school secretary, my daughter was “assessed.” Not to be too obnoxious about it, but the child can read, so I wasn’t overly worried about the actual assessment, but what did she get dinged on? Handwriting. I hold my pen like a child using crayons for the first time. I just hold it in my fist and move it around in the best approximation of a letter. I don’t know the “correct” way, so I couldn’t teach it to her. A Catholic school upbringing couldn’t get me to hold a pen properly and I still manage to write (better than my husband anyway), so I truly don’t understand the problem. But there my daughter was, proudly writing her own name for a teacher, and getting in trouble for doing it wrong. Sigh. In a few years, she’ll probably do all her writing electronically anyway, and as long as her thumbs work, her texting skills will be first rate.
After the assessment, I was given a packet of information. It did not contain information I deemed noteworthy, such as what time school starts, ends, and how the lunch process works. It did not provide me with a rough schedule of her day or what types of skills they expect her to learn. And while the supply list was a nice touch, it was actually very short and I have no doubt I have two of everyone somewhere in my desk drawers.
Instead, the packet contained such gems as “Internet Safety and Your Child” and “Ten Steps to Staying Ahead of Lice” with a truly terrifying picture of said vermin in ten times scale. I fully expect to see these on Ms. Pillsbury’s desk on the next episode of Glee. Also among the pamphlets, “Child Care: Making the Right Choice for You.” A little late for that, don’t you think? Wouldn’t that have been more appropriate, say, at the hospital, before I brought her home? At this point, five years in, either I’ve found child care options or I’ve handed her over to the wolves. (Hmm, maybe if my mother had been given one of those before I left the hospital, she wouldn’t have actually left me to the wolves after all!) Subtracting time for gossiping, Web surfing, lunch, and meetings, my daughter’s day will last as long as the average banker. She won’t need child care, she’ll need Red Bull.
I understand that her teachers are trying to provide me with the necessary skills to raising a better, smarter, thinner child with their information on good parenting, encouraging reading, and fighting obesity and I appreciate it. But the list of fun things to do without television was just ridiculous. I would rather starve then take my child to the supermarket for “fun.” Yes, we have been known to go to Wegman’s just to people-watch, but they have a balcony for that! Beyond picking out a cookie and drink, no shopping is involved. I can’t imagine asking her to write a list, pick out ingredients, figure out the price, and then check the total against the receipt (Actual tip!). You’d find my bones in the dry food aisle. And asking them to watch the speedometer as you drive was another howler. Just where is that child sitting to read that particular gauge? Back seat drivers are bad enough, am I really encouraging booster-seat driving?
Other ideas referred us to reading, watching, and discussing the daily news. Since I am not interested in teaching her about murder, fires, vandalism, and politics quite yet, I think I’ll skip that tip. I’ll also pass on helping her build her own dictionary and introducing debate topics at the dinner table. “Are Goldfish a cookie or a cracker? Discuss.” I did, however, enjoy the list of authors every child should read. Any excuse to buy more books is always a good thing.
Overall, the intent was pure, but the end result was just bizarre. The Survival Guide for parents was a nice touch, but I’ve had this kid for a while now. We’ve obviously survived long enough to get her to school, so at this point, I think I’m good. Now, come September, when I send her off for the first time, that’s when I’ll need a little help surviving.