It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was kindergarten‘s first day of school.
It comes far too early for me, while the ocean is still 73 degrees and the sun shines without hindrance, but there you are.
I always ease the jolt by watching the kindergarteners.
I wasn’t on hand for that first 15 minutes, which are always harrowing and hilarious. My sources report, however, that it was fairly predictable.
There is always one child who won’t let go of mom without a struggle and at least one mom who has to be firmly nudged out the door.
Somehow, everyone is finally shuffled off in the right direction, doors close and a true milestone is reached by all concerned.
With your first, it can be very tough to imagine the shrieking and quivering whirling dervish attached to your leg will soon be chatting up a new friend in a circle on the floor. But by jiminy, she will.
The highlight this year, however, was the hider.
There’s a reason for frequent head counts those first few weeks. The first time he had to be coaxed out of the playground play tunnel. The second time he was spotted in the bushes by a passing mom. This provided plenty of adrenaline rushes for all concerned.
I also spotted the telltale signs of the first run-in with that long list of social niceties. As one teacher led her little guys through the library, I heard “and it seems that some of us haven’t learned about sharing yet.”
When I finally had a reason to wander into the kindergarten rooms, there was only 20 minutes left of the day. At first glance, everyone seemed involved in any number of activities.
Then one child suddenly came flying up with a slightly stricken look and asked, “Will my mom be here soon?”
I am certain he had asked his teacher that same question every half an hour, but, glory be, here was a second opinion that might well provide a more acceptable answer.
To his disappointment, I told him that same thing I expect he had been hearing all day. “Oh yes. She’ll be here pretty soon.”
It was the same answer I would have given him had it been 9 a.m. Anything more specific risks a meltdown, and for these guys, 10 minutes is the same as two hours.
There was the predictable after-school mini-tantrum in the library when one mom gamely stopped to make copies of something. Her weary 5-year-old had simply used up every drop of willpower and good behavior he could muster. Spending one more minute in these trying halls was out of the question.
He rallied when I offered him and his sister a choice of small trinkets from my stash of treats. That was all it took to suck it up and buy mom that critical extra time.
It’s easy to be a hero if 1) it’s not your child 2) it’s the end of the day and 3) the child hasn’t begun to hold his/her breath. Truth was by that time, we all needed a nap.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer and shameless child-briber. Contact her at [email protected].