In the classroom

I spent yesterday afternoon, helping out at Tornado E’s class.  I try to volunteer one day out of the month.  I wanted to do more, but I was afraid I would take too much time from other mom’s volunteering.  I’m starting to think I’m the only one who does go in as I mentioned it to a few of the stay-at-home moms after school.  When I suggested they take a day just because it was fun, they looked at me like I had grown a third eye.  I guess our alone time is precious.  I know it is for me.

I chose yesterday because it was the only day of class this week, because they had a speaker coming in, and because it was supposed to rain all week.  Before the boys, I worked as a teacher’s assistant for a kindergarten and a first grade class and as a Girl Scout troop organizer.  When there’s a schedule deviation or if those kids couldn’t go out every single day to play, hell was likely to break loose within the class room.

I would like to regale you all with tales of humorous acts and speeches, but most of the kids were shy and quiet.  There was only one kid in the class willing to make a fool of himself by saying crazy things, doing crazy things.  My son.

Not only did he dance his way back into the classroom after the presentation, making one of the teachers laugh, he was the one to spout off hilarious things.

As we sat around the table for snack time, the kids were eager to tell the teacher what they did over the weekend. Tornado E didn’t want to be left out of the conversation, even though he felt we did nothing exciting.  He pulled my sleeve.

Tornado E: Mommy, lean over.  I have a secret to tell you.

I leaned over.

Tornado E: (whispering) I’m going to pretend we went to the toy store, ok?

Me: Ok.

Tornado E: (to the teacher) We went to the toy store!

Teacher: Oh?

Tornado E: Yup.  And we saw Toy Story toys.

Teacher: Which one is your favorite?

Tornado E: Buzz Lightyear!

All right.

Later as the teacher was reading a story, she asked the students what kinds of houses they lived in, giving examples of brick, steel, stuck-o.

Tornado E: I live in a gingerbread house!

The teacher looked over at me.  I smiled.

Me: It’s always nice to live in Tornado E’s world.

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Little Brotherly Love

Yesterday Tornado S and I dropped Tornado E off at school.  Tornado E’s school is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons.  We wanted to ease Tornado E into school, rather than drop him into the deep end as some of the schools we looked at would do.

I packed the boys into the car after lunch.  Each had his backpack strapped on to his back.  I reminded Tornado E to raise his hand during the class and to listen as I know these are his biggest weakness.  I had observed this last summer during his swim classes and then again at the open house where the teacher went through circle time with the kids.  Really, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

We arrived in good time.  The boys and I braved the sweltering heat as we marched to the classroom.  A few other moms stood around with their kids, talking.  I herded mine to keep them from running around in the landscaping.  No one else’s kid was doing that, so I figured I shouldn’t allow mine either.  Of course, it is desert-scaping; nothing can hurt it.

The teacher opened the door, and the children marched one by one. Tornado S followed his brother.

I grabbed Tornado S.

Me: No, Tornado S.  That’s your brother’s class.  That’s Tornado E’s class.  Not for Tornado S.

Tornado S: Brothr!

He tried to wiggle out of my grasp.  He started to cry, wail, scream.

Me: Tornado S, it’s ok.  You’re going home with Mommy, and we’re going to have fun.  Do you want to have fun with Mommy?

Tornado S: BROTHR!!!

I picked him up, looking straight into his big brown eyes.

Me: I know.  You want to play with Tornado E and his friends.  But you’re not old enough yet.  We can go home and play.  We’ll have some special time.

Tornado S: With Dadda?

Me: Yes, Daddy is home.  We can play with him, too.  Do you think that is a good plan?

Tornado S nodded.  We walked away.

Me: How about a binky?

Tornado S: BINK!

Of course, Tornado S slept through the whole afternoon, missing any Mommy and just Me time.  Poor kid.

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First steps

Yesterday Tornado E went to school for the first time.  He actually coordinated his outfit with a blue football shirt and a blue shorts.  I made him wear tennis shoes, instead of the boots, which need to be retired soon.  He carried his new Transformers backpack on his back.

Tornado S couldn’t go on without his own backpack, so he had a small Kung Fu Panda backpack.  He walked next to Tornado E.

Even with The Husband in tow, we arrived early, and I snapped pictures.

The children lined up to enter the room.  Tornado E found himself in the middle of the line.  One by one the kids entered the class as the teacher greeted them by name.  Tornado E allowed two kids to have cuts as he came near the door.  He stopped at the door.

Teacher: Hi, Tornado E.  How are you?

Tornado E: I’m a little scared.

My eyes welled with tears, which I kept in check because I knew if I cried Tornado S would too.

Teacher: That’s ok.  Everything will be just fine.  Come on in.

Tornado E took his first steps in without looking back.  The teacher’s assistant helped him off with his backpack and sent him to play.

I stood there not knowing when to leave or what to do now.  But a couple of minutes went by, and I didn’t hear a cry for Tornado E.  I called Tornado S, and we went home.  My first child is in pre-kindergarten.

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This is Mama Bird. The eggs are safely in the nest. Over.

Yesterday I went to an open house for the pre-kindergarten at the school I spent ten years attending.  While my brothers, and even I, think it’s a little scary to incarcerate my boys at the same school we went to, but I must say that the education was excellent.  I’m hoping my kids do not repeat the same horrific bullying experiences I had, but they’re boys, so that’ll help tons.  Plus we plan to send them martial arts, so the bullies have one chance before my kids kick butt.


As I sat there, with my mom, whose Council of Women decreed she should attend to find out what was happening in their school, I thought about what I could write about as my eyes glazed over from the information overload about how it had been 21 years since they had a pre-kindergarten class and the qualifications they had to meet.  I thought about sharing that information, and then I could watch my numbers plummet.  I thought I could write about how my mom and I kept staring at the young woman sitting two seats down from us who looked terribly like my elementary school best friend (before middle school turned me into a walking pariah) but how she just looked too young.  It turned out it was her, but how amusing can I make my weird staring become?  Then they talked about security, and I thought of Bad Mommy Moments and The World According to Me.


Apparently parents are WAY more concerned with safety then when I went to school.  First off, at my Brownie induction, my mom, being the leader, decided to have it at night, so that all the parents would be there.  With the gate open and the ceremony taking place in the first room inside the gate, some guy broke into the office down the hall and stole all the petty cash.  My dad secured the scene like the cop he was, and my mom alerted the priests, called 911, telling the operator she didn’t know if the robber was still in the area.  Minutes later, the children were thrilled to watch the SWAT helicopter search the school grounds and the neighborhood.  Way to go, Mom.


Second, my school is two blocks from a mall.  The junior highers would try to ditch and walk over but were always caught.  Though as a big junior high kid, many of us asked our parents to let us go over there for a few hours before they picked us up.  One year, a store or two was robbed by a man with a gun, and he took off into the neighborhood near our school.  Word on the street was that some of the kids saw him running with the gun in view, and we were forced to abandon our lunch hour for the safety of the classrooms.  I put as much stock in the gun rumor as I did about the rumor of two sixth graders having sex in one of the tunnels in the playground.  The kids just kissed.


Granted there were two bomb threats when I was an eighth grader, which turned out to be a classmate’s boyfriend calling to get her out of school early.  But then there were several bomb threats at my public high school for the same reason.  (And the time a bunch of the students kickedtheassesofsomeneo-nazikids.)


Instead of keeping the gates open, an adult has to be buzzed into the office.  In the office, the adult has to sign in and show id, which is checked against the list of adults allowed to enter the school and take home students.  The adult is given a sticker, which all the kids demand to see.  At the pre-kindergarten, the adult’s id is check again before the child is allowed to leave.  Pretty standard stuff, right?


Then the parents asked about child safety and where the bathrooms are.  The parents were assured no child is ever, ever left alone.  I started to think they had added a whole lot more bars than I was a kid.  Where could a kid go?  It’s a tiny school.


Then the punch line was thrown in.  Someone wanted to donate a whole security system with cameras, which were being installed this summer throughout the school and church.  Um, what?  There was already two cameras outside the office, so the secretary could see the person to buss them in or not.  My mom and I exchanged looks.  Most parents breathed a sigh of relief.


Wouldn’t it just be easier to add a retina scanner?


I bit my tongue before I could mention it.  My mom whispered, asking me what I thought.  I smiled.  I think this will make a great post, especially when I mention the guard towers and the SWAT team.  My mom rolled her eyes.


I wonder if I could be a guard with a uniform.  I look pretty tough in sunglasses.  Or I could wear a suit like the the Secret Service with a radio ear piece and all!



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Pre-Kindergarten Outing: Or Did you say you had a plan?

It had been decided for a month or two that since their daughter would stand on their living room couch and cry to watch the neighborhood children go to the school across the street that she would attend a pre-kindergarten the next fall.  So the mother dressed herself in a cute maternity outfit and dressed the daughter in a pink dress and headed to nearest pre-kindergarten to sit in on a class.  The daughter watched in awe, gripping her mother’s hand, as the school children listened to a story and went to their seats for seat work.  The mother introduced herself and her daughter to the teacher.  The teacher smiled and asked the little girl when she would turn four and thus be old enough for the school.  Without hesitation, the daughter looked up and said, “On my next birthday.”



I rushed around the house trying to find the perfect shirt, the perfect shoes, the perfect necklace, wondering when was the last time I even cared what I wore.  My husband said Evan was dressed and ready to go.  I yelled downstairs that Evan needed to brush his teeth and hair and that his face still had traces of syrup.  Of all the days for the boys to actually allow us to sleep in!  I raced down with a warm washcloth, a wet brush, and toothpasted toothbrush.


Me: Evan, what’s your last name?


Evan: L-


Me: Good job.  How old are you?


Evan: Three.


Me: Good.  When will you turn four?


Evan: (puzzled look)


Me: Evan, when is your birthday?


Evan: I’m going to have a Mickey Mouse-Kung Fu Panda birthday party, and Grandma is going to make my cake.  She makes the best cakes for me.  But it’s not my birthday.


Me: You’re birthday is July 5th.  Can you say July 5th?


Evan: July 5th.


Me: Good.  Here.  Brush your teeth.  Up and down.  Up and down.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.


We rush to the school, making it just in time as I had forgotten how bad traffic was at eight in the morning.  We headed for the office.  Excited my husband and I sit down with Evan in my lap as we waited for the vice principal. 


We had discussed this for months.  Evan needs to go to school next year.  He’s too bright.  He needs social interaction.  He needs friends.  He needs to learn to write his name and coloring within the lines.  He needs some sort of structure.  He needs some time away from his mother.


We get up and meet the vice principal.  Who asks if Evan will be  . . . five next September.  Excuse me?  Oh, pre-kindergarten is actually for slightly less mature five year olds, but it’s the same thing as kindergarten, falling under the California state curriculum for kindergarten.  Oh, we would love to still see the class.  We are here anyways.  Thank you for the suggestions of pre-schools.  Of course, we understand.  It is a lovely school, and the teacher is a lovely woman who seems thoroughly disappointed that they can’t take four year olds but makes several more suggestions of pre-schools around the county.  But my, he is a bright boy.


The class was small just five boys and five girls, counting the days, saying the day of the week, counting by ten to hundred, discussing patterns, talking about the weather, saying the ABC sounds all the way to L, and listening to the gingerbread man story.  It was just as I had imagined.  A small class snuggled in a class room filled with educational toys and activities. 


As we left the school, I explained to my husband what the difference between pre-kindergarten and pre-school was in Arizona.  See pre-kindergarten was like a prep-high school; it existed to gear the child up towards kindergarten in the same way a prep-high school gear its students for college.  In the pre-kindergarten, there were more academics then in a pre-school setting.  Sure, there were still lots of fun and games, but the children left the class being able to write the ABCs and read a few words.  I had never heard of a pre-kindergarten that was actually a kindergarten.  But then California’s cut off date is the beginning of December; while Arizona’s is the beginning of September.  It had to make for some immaturity in the early grades.


So with a heavy heart I realized that I had only just begun my research for some sort of school for Evan, though I was glad to hear that no one recommended a five day, full day class schedule for four year olds as was the case at my old Catholic school.  Damn, I thought I had everything planned.  Guess it’s back to the old drawing board.


Me: So, Evan, did you like the school?


Evan: No.


Me: (surprised because he was so excited to go) Why?


Evan: I don’t like the gingerbread man story.  It’s scary.  No school for me.




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