Saturday, September 23, 2006

Caution: Growing Pains Ahead

It was the Thursday night and all of Johnny's short sleeve school shirts were dirty. I laid out a long sleeve shirt and slacks.

"Okay, so this is what you're wearing tomorrow," I said.

"No...no..." he said, backing away as though I laid out a burmese python for him to wear as a scarf.

"The kids will make fun of me if I wear a long sleeve shirt," he said.

Can you imagine making fun of someone for that?

You nudge your coworker when Bob walks by.

"Look at Bob in long sleeves," you say. "What's the matter, Bob? Are all your short sleeve shirts in the wash?"

People would think you were crazy.

As far as I'm concerned, there are only two reasons to make fun of someone. 1. They have a bad habit that they are not aware of. Unlike the rest of us, who are embarrassed about a habit, like, say blurting out dumb comments, they have no idea that they...are a backseat driver. This makes us jealous. So, to get back at them, we make fun of them. The other reason is to be funny.

Long sleeve shirts are not funny.

"Are you going to spend the rest of your life doing what people say you should?" I asked.

"No," he said near tears. "But if I wear that they'll say long sleeve shirts are for winter."

I knew then that this was not a teachable moment.

"I'll wash your short-sleeve shirt and shorts, okay?" I said.

He nodded.

"Well, I guess we both have work to do," he said, cheerily, pulling the blanket closer. "You need to do the laundry, and I need to get some rest."

And the next day, he saw his short sleeve shirt and shorts laid out and said, "Thank you, mom!" like it was Christmas morning. I felt like one of Santa's elves.

But I know better than to believe a short sleeve shirt will make a day in kindergarten go smoothly. I've been to kindergarten. If all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten then it would go like this...

Nobody wants you to swing with them, so don't even ask.

When you're daydreaming about Raggedy Ann and Andy being your very best friends forever and ever, and you haven't listened to the teacher for the last...oh, 6 months or so, the teacher will call on you at that moment. Suddenly, you're the expert on "th." Whatever that is.

It is 5,000 degrees inside school regardless of the season. Especially when you're wearing those stupid knit tights.

No, really, kindergarten wasn't bad. The teacher was nice. The kids were nice. I was just very nervous about fitting in. I'm sure it was all in my head, though.

Don't you love it when people say that?

"It's all in your head."

As if that's reassuring.

If they said, "It's all in New Jersey," then you could just say, "Well, then, I won't go to New Jersey." But when they say, it's all in you're head, then what? "Well, then, I will take leave of my senses."

So, I understand the shirt thing. It's hard out here for kindergartner.

We went over to recess yesterday. Johnny is half-day and misses the afternoon recess so he wanted to visit his friends. To the typical observer, I'm sure this scene looked lovely. Happy children playing. To me, a lifelong worry-wort, hazards loomed at every corner. It was like a construction site.

A girl said, "Fine. Then you're not my best friend."

A boy said, "I wasn't talking to you."

This was a typical schoolyard and I wanted to surround certain situations with yellow caution tape. Put a sign in front of it that said, "Hazard: Growing Pains Ahead."

But I lost track of all this as Johnny joined some kids collecting acorns and a couple girls gathered around Richie and J.J. and I. They stirred woodchips and acorns and leaves in a bucket, poured it into a frisbee, and topped it off with dirt.

"Here's your blueberry pie," one little girl said, handing it to me.

"Oh my gosh, this is delicious," I said. "Now I just need a napkin and a cup of coffee and I'll be all set. Thanks."

One girl handed me a leaf for the napkin.

The other girl put her hands on her hips.

"We don't have coffee," she said, accusingly.

I shrugged. I guessed I'd just have to settle for the pie, then. No big deal.

Kindergarten is pretty managable after all...now that I'm 30.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Pat said...

I would have made fun of him - long sleeves - how queer!!!

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah..."you're mom dresses you funny"

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it gives me a stomach ache...thinking of other kids poking fun at our kids. Teach him how to "sign" the "bird"...
erin!

10:44 AM  

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