Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The busiest of times....the slowest of times

In many ways, I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been too tired at night to write about the big stuff. And the little stuff is….little. I made a commitment to myself to write tonight, but the kids decided to boycott bedtime (a trend of late) and just got down now at 9:45 PM. It’s a terrible cycle. They need to be up by 7 AM and struggle with this early rising, but must nap enough at school to feel wide awake at night. I wish I could turn back time. For months they were fast asleep by 8:30 or 9 PM and I would have an hour to write before collapsing in to bed at 10 PM. My days are full – I’m up at 5 AM, work all day, care for the kids in the evening and then try to find energy to do a few things before I go to bed. Now my schedule has become screwed up and frankly, sleep has been winning out.

So after that long excuse, it’s 10:03 PM and I’m going to sacrifice sleep to fill in some of the blanks of late.

Last Friday I took off the afternoon and picked up Harrison early from school for Kindergarten Open House at the neighborhood elementary school. I had felt pretty informed about what’s to come for all of us this upcoming year. Being in public education, and even spending two years as a professional in elementary schools, I thought I knew the drill. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the “cattle calling” – as Beth described it – we encountered.

It started off very nicely. Five of the neighborhood Kindergarten newbies gathered with their moms out in front of our house. We all walked up to the school together. Harrison and Kyle ran ahead, weaving back and forth across the sidewalk and into peoples’ yards, playing hide and seek with us. They would hide behind a tree and then jump out at us and yell, “ROOoooaAARRrrr!!!!” Over and over again. The three girls, on the other hand, walked on the sidewalk staying close to the adults. It was an amazing contrast I rarely see so clearly. As we neared the school, more and more parents, and 5 year olds, filled the sidewalks. I felt, for a moment, like I lived in Mayberry. It was a perfect example of Americana.

The feeling started to change when we entered the school. There was a little confusion about where to go and then we were directed back into the gym. A hum of noise got louder and louder and as we entered the large space full of parents in folding metal chairs and tons of kids. It was Kindergarten graduation. All of the interested parties were in the front of the gym, while we new people were herded to the back. Harrison immediately hid behind my leg and asked to not go in. Not a good beginning. He doesn’t do well with unfamiliar places, people nor loud noises. It was not a good place for him. We watched the program for about 15 minutes until we were excused. Harrison slowly adjusted after he found an accessible water fountain that he could play in.

The five moms gathered up our kids and trekked down the hall to see the rooms. The halls were thick with people and again Harry asked if we could leave. Just wait, I told him. It will get better. The rooms were full of lots of great stuff at his level – big cardboard blocks, maps, kitchen and doll stuff and then he found the Lego table. That was it. He was hooked.

About a week ago, Harrison found Ben’s underbed box of little Legos and dragged it into the play room. He has been building stuff ever since. Finding this little piece of “home” kept him sane and comfortable in yet another new environment. Me, on the other hand, became INSANE mommy. I didn’t realize how crazed I can get when I don’t know what’s going on and feel that everyone else does. I would look in other parents’ hands and wonder where they got a certain piece of paperwork. I’d ask and then RUN to the next room to get it. I frantically looked over the list of things that Harrison needed to know to be ready. “Harrison, you need to memorize your phone number…let’s work on that right now!” (He didn’t even grant me the courtesy of a glance on that one.)

It was confusing and scary to me for about a half hour, but I finally found my comfort zone when I met the principal. He was very approachable and seemed comfortable with my discomfort. I am very worried about Harrison having a good year in Kindergarten. Some of this stems from Ben’s negative experience, but more of it comes from the last year of struggles we’ve had with him. I want him to have an understanding teacher who will care and have patience like he currently has. I want him to love school, not just like it, in an environment where he learns and makes friends. He’s getting there in his current school so it’s hard to think of moving him again. All of these concerns engulfed me as I crazily walked around wondering where the structure was for this event. Why weren’t the teachers in the room for us to meet? (they were in the graduation back in the gym) Where were the registration forms? It went on and on. I was a basket case. My neighbors, God bless them, kept telling me that everything would be fine.

I think the experience was good for me. Kind of like when a doctor has to be treated for an illness or disease – he or she sees the medical field from the patient perspective. I was the patient that day. A new parent in the sea of confusion called “public school”. Experience and intellect usually can guide me through these things, but with Harrison I become a pile of mush. I so want him to be successful and now have an idea of how many parents I’ve dealt with over the years must have felt.

The event ended very positively. I was able to meet the teachers after all as we stayed long enough that they returned after graduation. Also, when the room cleared out, I was able to truly appreciate how bright and cheery it is. It was good for both of us. I calmed down and Harrison loved the place and didn’t want to leave. Now it’s time to get ready for summer. We need to enjoy it and think good thoughts about this next phase of our lives about to begin!

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