I'm not the mom that worries about her kid adjusting to new things. Heaven knows, Sam's done beautifully adjusting to so many changes in his short life that I marvel at how he could possibly be MY child (I don't do change well). I'm also not the mom to get all emotional about "my baby" growing up. In fact, I tend to inwardly cringe when I hear other mothers refer to their child in such a fashion. I mean, really...cut the cord already.
So you can imagine my surprise at finding myself ranting and raving to my husband yesterday upon his return from Kindergarten orientation. Now first, I was a bit miffed because I did not get to attend said orientation because it was scheduled at 2pm and someone had to stay home with Sam because it was "for parents only," and we do not have a local babysitter. And yes...I am also irritated that I am taking tomorrow off of work to accommodate their scheduling his meet the teacher time at 10am on a Wednesday...as if parents just don't have work schedules. But I digress.
Steve came home from orientation and gave me his impressions of the kindergarten teacher. His description? "Not exactly warm and fuzzy." In fact, "She seems to have a lot of rules." In kindergarten? OK...I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, I'm not a kindergarten teacher. She SOUNDED really nice in the little letter she sent home, specifically addressed to Sam. How bad could it really be?
But then Steve said, "And do you want to hear something truly absurd?" And that is when all bets were off. Let me try to calmly tell you about the absurdity...
Recess is fifteen minutes before lunch. If the class goes outside, everyone goes outside...no exceptions. Upon returning from recess, the class will go directly to the cafeteria where they will eat their lunch...there is no returning to the classroom between recess and lunch. Now, this poses two problems for me and my son. First, what if he brings his lunch? How exactly does it get from the classroom to the cafeteria? Teleportation? And second...and this is the one that sent me on a rant of epic proportions...
We live in an area called THE SNOW BELT. All children are to wear appropriate snow gear...coats, hats, mittens, snowpants, boots. They are going to spend fifteen minutes out in the snow...and then head directly to the cafeteria where they are expected to eat their lunches IN THEIR SNOW CLOTHES. Forget the discomfort of overheating while you eat. Forget the fact that I'm sure more than one kindergarten student will promptly throw up their lunch when they finally do return to the classroom and remove their layers. Let's focus on my child for a second. My child who suffers from Reactive Airway Disorder. My child who suffers asthma-like symptoms when faced with extreme temperature changes. My child, who is not allowed to dispense his own inhaler/medication, but must ask the teacher to send him to the nurse (provided it's not on Friday because the nurse doesn't work on Friday).
Am I the only one who sees a problem with this plan? Really, what would it take to allow the kids to return to the classroom to remove their snow clothes before heading to the cafeteria to eat? Would it take up too much precious finger-painting time? I mean, it's just KINDERGARTEN!
So now I have gone from laid-back-mom-who-doesn't-worry, to a complete and total freak. I know other moms who already have their first day of kindergarten stories to tell. For the most part, they seem to be relatively pleasant. There is one mom whose son was allowed to take his stuffed animal to the first day (Sam is allowed NO TOYS at kindergarten) and it really got me to thinking my baby is not going to do well if this kindergarten teacher is more like a drill sergeant than a kindergarten teacher. He IS a sensitive kid, despite what he may have been through during the past three years. He DOES need love and attention more than cold rules and strict routine. How do I send him off to the care of a stranger and just hope that she understands him? How do I send him off to the care of a stranger who seems less than interested in trying to understand him?
I know these questions and worries are not unique. I know mothers have faced them since the beginning of the public school system. I know that my child will be ok, one way or another. If I have to step in and talk to the teacher, I will certainly do that. If she won't listen, I will not hesitate to go over her head. I don't want an adversarial relationship and I hope it won't be necessary.
I guess I'm just sad that it is starting this way. "Be all you can be" is a nice slogan for the military...I'm just not sure it has a place in kindergarten. I'm sad that we don't seem to have anyone on "our side," who is as interested in guiding our boy as we are...with love. I want Sam to love school and I'm terribly afraid this is going to produce just the opposite reaction in him.