Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Boot Camp for Five Year Olds

I’m going to continue on down my merry road of school-related rants today. The beginning of a new school year and two new schools gives me so much to bitch about! Today’s topic: kindergarten and everything I’m learning while my child is in kindergarten.

Public kindergarten is fairly new in my town. Our state is so progressive education-wise that public kindergarten wasn’t even a mandatory offering until recently (2009 I believe). Our legislation obviously never read “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. We were thrilled when our town finally built the kindergarten but were disappointed that our schedules didn’t allow us to provide middle of the day transportation for Sugar. Therefore, she went to private kindergarten which really was an extension of daycare: same place, same kids, different teacher.

The public kindergarten is an entire new world for my family. We have loads of new rules to learn. Some were presented to us in the beginning and Spice is nearly over her “no cupcakes on your birthday” snit. We got a newsletter on Tuesday and now have new battles to face. This week’s whinefest will be directed at Halloween and Open House.

In my little world Halloween was always celebrated by dressing in a costume and trick or treating. At school, we’d all put on our costumes and have an afternoon party with junk food and fun games. Just as our sugar highs were reaching warp speed, our teachers shipped our happy asses home. I was thrilled when we moved to this small town where Main Street is shut down and the elementary kids march in a Halloween parade. Cutest thing ever. I knew that the half-day kindergarten program wouldn’t work for parade attendance, but I was surprised to see the following note in the newsletter:

“Our Fall and Harvest Theme Day will be here before you know it on Thursday, October 27th. I’d like to take this opportunity to give you a bit of background on the day. With decades of experience as early childhood professionals we are well aware that Halloween, the wearing of costumes and the agitation that accompanies the day can be extremely upsetting and frightening to some young children. As a staff we are committed to maintaining a calm, safe learning environment for all children every day of the school year… As this is not a celebration of Halloween we politely ask that you do not send your child in a costume and do not send edible treats for the class.”

I am one of those neglectful moms. You know the ones I’m talking about, those that work outside the home. Therefore, my girls have been in daycare for most of their lives. I can say with absolute certainty, neither of my children have ever been frightened by Halloween costumes. The Easter Bunny, well that’s an entirely different story but while we’re banning Halloween, perhaps the fucking bunny is next on the chopping block.

I really am aghast that there will be no Halloween party at Spice’s school. Perhaps I’ll let her wear two tutus that day… maybe even with a crown. I dare them to call me and chew me out for allowing a costume to be worn to school. My kid eats breakfast in that “costume” every freaking day. It’s not a costume it's haute couture. 

Now, the Open House. This has been on my calendar since school started and I was excited to go. Open House was always fun for me as a kid. I went to school in four different places and Open House was always the night we brought our parents in and showed them all the work we’ve done so far. As a matter of fact, Open House meant the same thing at Sugar’s school. For some reason I had an inkling that things might be a little different at this Boot Camp for Five Year Olds. I called ahead last week and was told it was for parents only. Surely I missed the memo. I went back through everything I had gotten from the school and went on the school’s website. Nope, no mention of it being “parents only.” Surely they are going to let parents know to leave their kids at home? Surely they are going to give enough notice so parents can find a sitter if they need to? On Monday they sent home a cute little note, “Don’t forget Open House! Children will be happier staying at home.” Thanks for the notice and I’m glad I planned ahead.

Which brings me to my final rant of the day (swear!)… Last night I was delighted to attend Open House at Boot Camp. There are some seriously cute projects hanging about and I was amused that Spice had drawn her teacher a picture of a handbag. I wasn’t sure who any of the parents were, but there was the typical teacher hog and I did overhear Big Head’s (aka Crying Girl) mom whining about something. I daresay the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. What surprised me the most is the lack of attendance? There are around 20 in Spice’s class, but there were only eight or nine parents in the room. I tend to think of Parents Night as mandatory, especially for the kindergarteners who are just beginning this magical journey.

My memories of kindergarten are pretty vivid. I loved school and my teacher. She was a gorgeous black woman named Mrs. Parker and she always had beautifully polished nails. The incident that I remember the most though, involved two of my classmates hitting up the local Foodmart before school. The didn’t have any money, so they just took the ice cream they wanted. Mrs. Parker had to go bail them out. Too bad I don’t know where any of those people are now. I know a great boot camp Mrs. Parker could have sent those bad boys to. 

Ice Princess

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