Friday, August 19, 2005

First, last, and everything

Listening to: Mahler, Kindertotenleider

Yesterday was the first day of school and despite a few hitches here and there, it went off rather well. Lilly started 1st grade and despite her studious nature, was characteristically phlegmatic about everything.

"How did you like your teacher?"

"I like her."

"What did you do today?"

"Nothin'"

Marni, on the other hand, beside herself with the completion of her first day of the final year of pre-school, gave a step-by-step account of everything that happened. In case you're wondering, not a lot goes on in pre-school but don't tell Marni. As far as she's concerned, it's a veritable bee-hive of activity.

Pre-schhol? I don't get it, frankly. All of my children will have attended two years of pre-school prior to kindergarten but I'm wondering if it's done much other than expose them to the classroom. Everyone I knows sends their kids to pre-school so why don't we just start our kids in school at age three? Make it fourteen years of school instead of twelve.

Zeke started his first day of pre-school and I was afraid dropping him off would be traumatic. Indeed, as I escorted him through the classroom, trying to get him interested in various distractions ("SEE?!? New friends!!! Your teacher!!! A Guinea Pig!!!"), he wasn't having it and kept his grip firm on my leg. Finally, a box of toy cars caught his attention (or "Tars" in his insistentence on inverting his 'C's' and 'T's'). With him elbow deep in the box of tars, I was able to sneak out the door and make my escape.

Yet, it was traumatic. My heart was breaking. My baby was in school. Probably not the heartbreak that's going on over at Vicki's site but still, a cold slap in the face as I saw my little man take another step out of infancy.

I'm learning that along with the joy, parenthood is a matter of heartbreak by degrees.

7 comments:

landismom said...

Great post. Your first grader sounds a lot like mine (although we haven't started the school year yet). A typical exchange:

Me: What did you do at school today, Bee?

Bee: Do I have to tell you?

Me: Are you six or sixteen?

melody said...

Dude, it's all about the tars.

Angel said...

Awwww, I remember bawling when my daughter started Kindergarten. And she didn't go to preschool, but we think we're going to send our son next year. That boy is SO full of energy, *I* need the break! lol

Bernadette said...

How I appreciated this post and your musical reference. Mahler understood the nuances of parting and reconnecting--the sunshine being overwhelmed by the storm. Your children will cherish your understanding in these matters, Jim!

Glitzy said...

wow...they're all off in school now, eh? Amazing how time flies, I'm sure.

Hank said...

I was all set to get emotional when I dropped the Older Boy off at his first day of Kindergarten. His school is but 3 miles from our house, but I didn't control for the first day of school spike in traffic. We about 5 minutes late for school, I ran him into the room, had him sit down with the other kids in the circle on the rug and bolted. There was no time for the tearful goodbye.

Speaking of Kindergarten and Preschool, based on my memories of early elementary school, Preschool is now the equivalent of what Kindergarten used to be. I remember finger painting and playing and taking naps and having snacks in Kindergarten. First grade was where academics started: reading, math, etc. But the Older Boy learned to read in Kindergarten. He learned some math. Kindergarten used to be about getting used to the classroom. Now its the start of learning. If you're going to get anything out of Kindergarten you need to have gone to Preschool so you understand how to behave in the classroom.

vicki said...

I do love your writing so much- I missed it for a few days! Your tastte in music is quirky but good, too. :-)
Every little step they take away from you is a milestone- and strangely, some of the regressions are as well. I envy you your little girls, especially today. A preschool tummy to snuffle would be just the thing.

The high school response to "what did you do at school today?" was, "It doesn't matter." I always found that off-putting and sad. Last night she chatted fro hours about her new books, her new classes, her new apartment. Ain't life grand? (snif!)