My eyes have been opened.
I realize now that I know very little about a significant part of parenting – school. That this realization came on the heels of kindergarten orientation is probably equally shocking to me as it is funny to many of you.
“Aaah, Brad the (relatively new) Dad, your articles have been so cute with all your talk about toys, naps, brotherly bonding, dinner time blues, and diapers…but you haven’t seen anything yet. Muwhahaha.”
Ok, maybe you thought this without the evil laugh at the end (visually in my head I also added dark skies and flashing lightning), but your point is accurate – I really haven’t seen anything yet.
Like work for many adults, school pretty much dominates the hours of a kid’s day Monday through Friday. Speaking solely on my own experience, life basically becomes school during the day and playing with friends after. Parents are there for food and there is not much else beyond that in a kid’s world besides the nuisances of homework and brushing teeth.
So, what’s really happening is that my child is about to embark on an enormous adventure that will dominate the next two decades of his life. Wow.
But skipping back to orientation night, I honestly wasn’t prepared for the complexity of information received. Bus schedules are weird and confusing, the drop off and pick-up procedures sound more like engineering flow charts than anything else, safe lunch practices to avoid allergy related issues are appreciated as much as they are scary, and the medical information and requirements necessary simply to be allowed to enter kindergarten, while logical, also carry a bit of – whoa, really?
I found myself often looking over to my wife asking questions with my eyes, “You knew about that, right?”
“So wait, what happens again if we are running late to pick him up?”
“Did she just say head lice?”
But then the fun started. A big change was just implemented this year in our school system and it was not welcomed with open arms by all. In the past, all kindergartners who started out on the AM schedule would switch to the PM schedule half way through the year, and vice versa. This year, not so much. Your child will either be on the AM or PM schedule for the entire year and there is nothing you can do about it.
As a simple minded male, this really doesn’t bother me and part of me prefers it for the consistency aspect. With respect to moms, I can understand your frustration and emotional reactions. We all want what is best for our children and in most cases moms are much more in tune with those needs than dads. I believe this stems from the nurturing nature of moms. Dads? In general we are “see problem, fix problem” creatures and our nurturing oftentimes comes in the form of throwing our children to the wolves and gauging their reaction.
Would my child learn better in the morning? Maybe, but he might be on the PM schedule so we will need to buck up and figure it out.
I know there is so much more to it than this, but hey, you’re reading a dad’s column and a dad’s point of view.
To sum this all up, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of parental puzzle solving that lies before us. Whatever comes our way my wife and I will deal with as we see best for our children. You can only “play the game” with the hand you are dealt, and if you want a different hand, make sure you are involved in the shuffling process.
Friends tell me that having open communication with teachers is vital and I will gladly take that advice to the bank. Ultimately, I look forward to the challenge and hope to always keep in perspective that as long as my boys are having fun and learning, the rest is in my head.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 6/2/12.