The library is shoulder to shoulder with the kindergarten classrooms at my school, which gives me a pretty good seat for the “First Day of School” floorshow.
There is, of course, always at least one child who appears to be permanently unglued, howling and bereft, until about 60 seconds after mom finally slips out of sight. And conversely, there is one who seems quite composed until about 30 minutes before school lets out. Then the shrieking meltdown strikes and there is no convincing them that they will ever see mom or be allowed to go home again.
The day is filled with one time bomb after another as teachers discover who isn’t really quite potty-trained yet, who still needs a solid, two-hour nap and who is stunned by the concept that everything they see isn’t theirs to touch, take or rearrange.
Every year it seems, there is one who raises everyone’s heart rate by disappearing. This child wants very much to stay hidden in the jungle gym tunnel and/or behind the bushes by the fence or be pretty much anywhere except back in the classroom. They did not want to come, did not want to stay and most sure as heck do not want to still be there six hours later.
The first day is always populated by several who reach the I-have-followed-all-the-rules-I-can-stand-for-one-day place right around midday. It is also easy to spot those who rarely, if ever, hear the word no from someone who means it. This is never a good day for them.
But among those struggling are also those who suddenly find their social nirvana on a playground with 100 new faces. They are thrilled to be able to schmooze and work the playground, boss and organize, ecstatic that they may never lack playmates again.
And there are a fair number who are equally delighted to hear new stories, see new things and encounter a wide array of fascinating new experiences. Most all of them get to this point before long, with their sponge-like brains just ready for all the juicy knowledge thrown their way.
And the background music for all this energy is a host of hilarious thoughts, statements and confessions the average 5-year-old will unfailingly offer.
“My mom said she would definitely come and get me today, so I don’t have to sleep here,” one confident soul noted.
“At home, my mom and dad let me have all the candy I want, all the time,” the wishful thinker will toss out. It’s always worth a shot.
“When do we get to go to the swimming pool?” another optimist asked.
There is usually one who steps out the classroom door into the library and is suddenly, completely lost. I am always happy to leap to the rescue and usually make a solid friend in the bargain.
Now they are wide-eyed tots, but as quickly as you can blink, they will be reading, writing and a half a head taller. And unless you wish to bring swift and sure wrath upon your head, never call them “Baby.”
Filed Under: Small Talk