My oldest son started kindergarten yesterday, which ended up being quite an exercise in anxiety. I do not remember having this with my daughter, as she takes after her mother and has a healthy respect for authority. My son however, seems to take after me and I half expected him to arrive home with a black eye, torn shirt, a decomposing turtle that succumbed to a lengthy incarceration in his Buzz Lightyear backpack and several hastily written prescriptions for industrial strength doses of Ritalin.
Don’t get me wrong, he is a very bright kid but the ability to follow directions is not exactly among his strongest character traits. But to be fair, if you listen to my wife’s point of view it is not exactly mine either. Our afflictions are a little different though. With him, you have to tell him four times to do something before he acknowledges that he’s being talked to, then you have to explain the requested task twice so that he can repeat it back to you, then you get to watch as he delegates the job it to the imaginary monster that follows him around the house (the same one that drops a healthy deposit of “Number 2” in the toilet in MY bathroom and then leaves without flushing or wiping) while he goes back to the couch to finish watching “Handy Manny”. In my case though its usually just a simple misunderstanding. My wife tells me to go to the store to pick up milk, eggs and bread and I come back with a six-pack of Labatts, a bag of Doritos and a fresh copy of “Girls Gone Wild: Topeka, Kansas”, which is actually her fault for mumbling.
The morning went as smoothly as it did on school days last year. Neither my son nor my daughter wanted to get out of bed, but my two-year-old burst out wide awake and was demanding 100% of his parents’ attention while we tried to get the other two ready. Then we had to force feed them a nutritious breakfast of sugar-spiked chocolate cereal so that we can be reasonably assured that their respective teachers are earning their paychecks. We usually wait until the second week of school before we pump them full of coffee and then send them out the door with a couple of bottles of Mountain Dew.
Afterwards we have to get them dressed. My daughter is quite the fashion pioneer so I was not the least bit surprised to see her emerge from her room wearing a pink camouflage skirt, white Hello Kitty top, tennis shoes and long, purple, leopard spotted gloves that stretched to her elbow, looking like a cross between elegant formal wear and the wrist-guard from the most flamboyant bowler the city of San Francisco has ever seen. My son has much simpler tastes in clothing and came down in a striped polo shirt, shorts and “Finding Nemo” flip flops. After a brief, albeit violent and bloody struggle, we got him into socks and tennis shoes as well.
Next was getting their backpacks loaded. My daughter’s was not too hard. As a second grader, she knew what she needed in school. My son though was a little less clear on the concept. It was another struggle, but we eventually got him to leave behind the Laser gun he got at Disneyworld, his Pirates of the Caribbean action figures and his Buzz Lightyear cell phone that he needed in case his imaginary monster got lonely and needed to call him. I told him that I was pretty sure his monster would be busy soiling all of the toilets while he was gone since I cleaned them over the weekend.
After a round of pictures, we got the group out the door to the bus stop. My daughter trudged up the steps without hesitation, but I saw my son pause at the top to take a moment to talk to the bus driver. I do not know what he said, but I hoped it was not something along the lines of, “Hi! My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”
After that, he was gone. Then my wife called me a little after 11:00 to tell me that the school had called. My mind immediately raced to my son. Did he come to the conclusion that kindergarten just was not for him and decide to make a break for it? Did his imaginary monster arrive to and decide to bust the joint up? Did he greet the teacher with words that he probably learned from me while watching the University of Michigan football game last Saturday? Though I had talked to him several times about how inappropriate it was to moon people at daycare, did he think that it was OK to do it in kindergarten?
Actually, it turned out my son was just fine. My daughter on the other hand, had pink-eye.