How Was Your Day?

Last night Ashley and I attended curriculum night at the girls' school. Ashley sat in the 1st grade presentation with Allie's teacher while I sat through the Kindergarten one for Avery. My presence was token at best, since the girls and their mom have the whole kindergarten thing down cold. Even Avery, who's currently in the class, knows what to expect given she spent most of her summer being briefed by her older sister Allie on the daily routine of school life. This included full dress rehearsals and the use of a mock-school room where Allie played the part of teacher, bringing an added sense of realism to the role play.

"Does the teacher really yell at you like that?" I would often hear Avery ask from the bedroom/classroom as I worked from my nearby computer.

"Yes! She does!" Allie would scream, not breaking from her portrayal as the nun from the Blues Brothers. "Now, read this word or I'm going to get into your lunch and eat the cookies your mom packed, right in front of your crying face."

Ashley even started referring to Allie as a "Kindergarten Life Coach." That being the case, I have had my doubts as to the effectiveness of the coaching given Avery has already been in trouble for talking out of turn several times in just the first week. Even Allie seems discouraged by the results of her summer instructional lessons, and it appears she has even dropped some of her motivational tactics like stealing a kid's cookies. Now, Allie won't even eat her own lunch, and on the ride home, she hands her untouched dessert over for her little sister to enjoy instead.

Even though the girls know the deal, I am the one out of the loop. I probably should have taken Allie's course, but money is tight and I couldn't scrounge up enough for the registration and enrollment fee she was charging. Having to forgo this coaching meant I needed to pay attention to what the teacher had to say during the curriculum night presentation. This would be a challenge in itself given I haven't paid attention in a classroom since... well, since a long time anyway.

Luckily, everything being said was already copied down on paper and stapled together neatly for parents such as myself who suffer from selective memory loss. Flipping through the packet, I noticed such information as the school's policies, permission forms for the school to photograph your kids, and book club order forms. One neat little tidbit included was a checklist of questions printed on golden-rod, yellow paper for parents to ask their child about their school day. At the top it read, "Things to ask your child so they won't respond nothing when you ask them what happened today at school." The paper went on to include such questions as, "What was the message of the story during reading time?" and, "Which letter did you learn to write today? Was it capitol or lower case?"

I made a mental note to keep the list handy for the rides home from school where I have about 30 minutes alone with the girls. The interaction would be good as well as showing the girls my interest in them as tiny human beings as opposed to the pancake mafia and wasteful dairy product consumers.

Leaving the school, Ash and I picked up the girls from the baby sitter and made our way home. On the way, Ash, being the veteran kindergarten mother she is, turned around in her seat and from memory, asked Avery a question off the list.

"So, Avery, tell me what was the first thing you did with the teacher today?"

Avery sat up in her the car seat she had slumped into when she first crawled into the minivan. "Mommy, the first thing will did with Ms. B was get our wiggles out, but before that, you know what? This girl in my class, she's one of my best friends now, but she doesn't sit at my table. She had a red dress on and said she wanted to have a sleep over because she likes Pet Shop toys like me. I don't know her name, but in library - wait, we didn't go to the library today. We go on Friday, that's what Ms. B says. We did PE today. PE is just a short way of saying gym class, but I don't know why we didn't go to the library, cause I ate all my sandwich, but I didn't drink my water. I'm thirsty now, but I want to wait till we get home because I don't want to spill water on my dress. My friend had a dress on today. Not my other friend. This one's a different friend. I don't remember her name, but she like purple like me, and you know what? She says she likes....

[15 minutes later]

...and that's where babies come from, Mommy. Why do you ask?"

Ashley was silent, and I had to finally reach across the seat, cuing her to her respond. "What's - huh? Oh, I just wanted to know if you had a good day," she finally said.

I started to wonder if Ashley was going to ask Avery any more questions from the list, given the soliloquy we had just bore witness to. Thankfully, she did not. Shifting in her seat, Ashley looked over at Allie. "And what about you, Sweetie? What happened in the first grade today?"

Allie turned her head from the window and blinked at her mother. "Nothing." Then she went back to looking out the window. Ashley, with an equal lack of emotion rotated back to the forward position and said nothing. No further questions, your honor.

Apparently, no golden-rod piece of paper exists with questions to help your help your first-grader avoid the "nothing" response. In a way I felt encouraged. The girls might be pros at kindergarten, but beyond that, it looks to be a level playing field. Rookies.

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