Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First day of Kindergarten: Hopes and Dreams

During orientation today, the principal at Jake's school encouraged us to "get to know" her and share with her our "hopes and dreams for his kindergarten year."  Kate and I sat side by side in a humid basement that they call the "gym/auditorium" and even though I was closer to bursting into a puddle of sweat vs. tears, that line did make me shrug away an emotional shudder.  Maybe I hadn't realized I did have hopes and dreams for him at this early stage in the game, maybe i was shocked in these first few seconds of contemplation how basic they were.

Perhaps to a fault, I don't give a shit where he is with his reading or math.  The kid is smart and a "pleaser" with two academic-minded moms, he will excel in school and be reading like a champ in no time...

I hope he has fun and learns to love those put in charge of his learning.
I dream that what happens this year sets him up to trust the people we call "teachers" and to feel safe in the buildings we call "schools".

I hope he makes friends and learns how to be good and generous to other kids.
I dream he has the experience of acceptance and friendship without learning to crave and chase the "high" of feeling popular.

I hope he somehow learns to appreciate the special qualities of others without feeling jealous.
I dream he learns to appreciate the special qualities in himself without feeling superior.

In the middle of the first 1/2 hour in his class room, Jake pulled at my pocket and said, "I have to go potty."  His teacher showed him the room and he was in there for several minutes before the motion sensor light went out.  Over the din of the classroom, I heard quiet yelling, "Anyone... Hey, Anyone... Anyone out there..." it was soft at first and grew louder.  I realized what must have happened and the lights flew on as I opened the door and rushed in.

He shrugged at me, "Hey," he said, not quite embarrassed.
"Hey, buddy!" I said laughing in a way that I'd hoped would reassure him.  "If that ever happens again, you just have to wave your arms around to get the lights back on again."  I offered several more sentences in the way of explanation.  And then I noticed his red face and watering eyes...
He was about to cry, and I didn't want that to happen...  All these emotions rushed to me: he is way more nervous than we realized... He's afraid.  And he was literally left in the dark, oh no...

And then I heard the splash as he dropped (what I later realized was the third) rather large turd in the tiny "to scale" toilet. Misty eyes, cleared and the normal color replaced the red in his cheeks.

Here's my kid!  First thing he does at kindergarten is take a huge dump!!  When I told the story to Katy later, she mocked me with her mind-reading skills: "Oh MY GOD... it's like when you go into a book store and the info overload sends you running to the public restroom!!!"

It's funny because it's true.

I couldn't help it. I reached down and planted a kiss on the top of that kid's head.  "I love you so much, Jakey."

"Yeah," he said absentmindedly contemplating the status of his bowels.  The absurdity of the situation hit a peak as he obviously bared down one last time.  He relaxed his abdomen, shifted on the seat, took a short breath in and out, and I easily identified the cues- he had completed his business.

Looking up at me, he shrugged: "Can you believe I'm in kindergarten?!?" He asked excitedly.

Brief, awkward silence.

"Yes, baby.  I'm so proud of you," was the only thing I could think to say.

I've admitted it before, and I'll say it again, this kid is weird.  His moms are fine with it.  In fact his brand of quirky, honest sweetness is probably less weird than we are.  I'll sometimes tell him he's weird so he recognizes that word doesn't have to hurt: everybody is weird in some way(s).  I dread the day when someone makes him feel bad or insecure about the amazing things inside of him.

I hope that doesn't happen to him in Kindergarten.
I dream for him that when that does happen he has a good friend near him to reassure him that he doesn't need to make apologies for who he is.

Jake has a bunch of friends that he's gone to day care with for several years.  Today, KK shouted to him in the parking lot, "Thank you, Jacob!"

"You're welcome," he spouted over his shoulder as we all walked away from the bus.  When I asked him what he did that she was thanking him for he looked at me as if to say, "What the fuck are you talking about?"  It became crystal clear in that moment that this is just the beginning of me asking what I think is a perfectly legitimate question and him acting like I'm blind, deaf, and dumb.

Colin is Jake's BFF since he was 6 months old.  It's because of Jake and Colin that we are friends with Col's parents.  Now those kids are stuck with each other at least through high school, because Katy and I have really grown to love those dirtbags (Private joke).  When Jake asked us what a "kindred spirit" was recently (after the term came up in Puss in Boots) hearing the definition prompted him to report to us that Colin was his kindred spirit.  Sometimes the two boys greet each other with this term of endearment (sigh).

Life can be hard, even for kindergarteners.
I hope that he hits some bumps (even at this tender age) so he can start to grow confident in his ability to overcome challenges and obstables
I dream he'll have some good little peeps by his side reassuring him and giving him sound toddler advice.

A few weeks ago, katy and I both picked Jake up from day care.  When the kids saw us come in together, it set off a sewing circle of banter among 4 four-year old girls.  They were working on some craft at a low-to-the-ground, circular table and the image in my peripheral vision was oddly similar to a group of old ladies gossiping while shucking peas- heads bent together, hands busy, absentminded familiarity with one another.  While I tried to get Jake to gather his things, I started to catch the content of their conversation:

Girl 1: Yeah, that's how it is.
Girl 2: He has two moms...
Girl 3: No dads...
Girl 1: No, he didn't come with one.
Girl 4: Not a dad in sight.
Girl 2: Nope, just only moms

Jake was oblivious and I realized that the arrival of the two moms simultaneously (when we usually took turns picking up our boys) likely prompted some solidification of the concepts that these little girls have been well aware of for a long time.

They weren't questioning the legitimacy of our family structure.  They weren't trash-talking.  Just hammering the points home to each other in a way that old friends might discuss the inevitability of an impending summer shower:

"Looks like rain"
"yessir, there's no way we're getting out of this one..."
"I guess we better bring the laundry in"
"These rains come and go"
"The sky is sure dark"
"It's been dry- we could really use the rain."

I hope that it will be sometime before Jake is exposed to a conversation where he realizes there are people in the world that have a problem with his family.
I hope if someone indicates there is something wrong with his family structure, there is a teacher (or one of those pea shuckers) right there on hand to immediately correct that lie
I dream we have a few years of solidifying his confidence before he gets a wiff of this part of the world from anywhere.

I didn't cry today. If it hasn't happened yet, I've probably avoided it.  But I wouldn't be surprised if it hit me later in the week or month.  Putting this kid out into the world,  further out of the sphere of our protective capabilities is humbling.  It makes me feel the intense weight of human vulnerability.    It makes me want to grab the break and slow down time a bit.  It makes me want to pray more.

Okay... there.  A few tears dripped down...
Is everyone happy now?


Adam Hirsch said...


Papa said...

Growing up doesn't have to be painful. Being pushed away always is. Jacob and Milo will never have to worry about that--- He's got two loving moms to nurture and guide him. Loved the blog and pictorial !

Sherri U said...

I laughed so hard I cried (why do I always find turd stories so humorous? Perverted nurse humor I guess). And then I just cried. You are such an awesome mom!