Sunday, May 5, 2013

Flunking out of Pre-school

Ugh, look at the date.  Look at the date of the last post. Ugh.  

I recently enrolled Charlotte in kindergarten. She's going to do great in kindergarten.  She loves rules and order and learning stuff from adults who did not give birth to her.  She's going to rock that place.   God help any of her classmates, or even teachers, who do not follow the rules or who create mischief of any kind.  She will turn them in faster than you can say North Korean labor camp.  I'm hoping she takes a little time out from slapping 5 year-olds in detention to actually learn to read.  This will make my life so much easier.  Then when she comes moping around saying she's bored, I can just yell, "Read a book!" instead of turning the TV on and feel good about myself.  I'm all about activities that don't involve me in the least AND are beneficial to the child.  I might even turn into a good mother once my kids can reasonably be expected to take care of themselves.  Don't laugh, it could happen.  

Kindergarten has been my holy grail, the thought of it getting me through many days when I feel like I will indeed die of either boredom or multitasking or both.  Don't ask me how it is possible to be bored while you are multi-tasking, all I can tell you is the psychological torture that is small children is truly mystical in its cruelty.  On a rare day of mental clarity, I can tell you how many days there are until the opening day of the 2016-17 school year (This is not one of those days, so I can't tell you right now).  In my fantasies, I will spend the entire day in silence, with no one touching me, and by the end of the day, I might feel human enough to go to a museum.  Not an art museum of course, that will take years of rehabilitation, but perhaps like a historical-site-type of thing or Civil War reenactment.  

Unfortunately, I'm starting to catch onto the fact that grade school is in fact no mommy cake walk in this era of helicopter parenting.  It turns out that the entire K-12 experience is not simply an educational process for the child, it is the Olympics of parenting.  Children these days are apparently not capable of doing any of their school work or activities without a high degree of parental involvement.  Teachers ensure this is the case by giving them projects and assignments that they could not possibly do on their own.  And even if they could, if their parents don't assist them, they are permanently disadvantaging their little darlings.  How is Susie supposed to build a bird condominium and chart the daily eating habits of the 19 species of birds who inhabit it at a level on par with Johnny's Harvard PhD ornithologist dad?  I mean, Susie's poor mother, who only has an MA in English from some crap religiously-affiliated school in the midwest isn't going to be able to compete either, but she can sure as heck do a better job than Susie. Susie's bird condo will probably be some popsicle sticks stuck together with gum she found in her brother's hair.  And if Susie gets a bad grade in 2nd grade, well, it's all downhill from there.  You might as well just drop her off at a strip club and call it an academic career.  

Preschool has been bad enough.  Every day it seems has a new "theme" I'm supposed to dress Charlotte according to, or a new item I'm supposed to buy for the class, or a new dish I'm supposed to cook, or a new party I absolutely must attend.  It's apparently not enough that I'm paying these people college tuition rates basically to ensure my kids don't kill themselves.  In their defense, they are kind-hearted people who assume parents want to be "involved" with their children and are giving them lots of opportunities to do so.  How sweet.  Let me be perfectly clear: I don't want to be involved.  I want to drop my kids off with nothing but the clothes on their backs, go to the spa-like setting some people call "the office," and pick them up in working order at the end of the day.  That's what I want.  Just so you don't think I'm horrible--OK so that's inevitable--I do work part-time.  I have four entire days each week to be involved with my children.  I'd like to think that if I worked full-time, I would be all about the "Celebrate Spring-a-Palooza-Easter-Passover-Wiccan" party that parents just must attend unless you want your child to end up a psychopath and please dress you children as a fairy tale character whose name rhymes with your child's name but preferably a literary character instead of Disney, and also could you please bring in some shade-loving perennials and a pinata filled with candy, but not chocolate candy because Joey is allergic, and no peanuts (duh), and also no sugar because Amy is diabetic Thanks so much!  I'd like to think that.  But it's probably not true.  

Just to elaborate on how badly I suck.   Recently Charlotte was the "Student of the Week." A whole week of celebrating Charlotte and building her little self-esteem.  Each day I was supposed to bring in something that was her favorite--food, game, toy, book, etc.  I somehow didn't realize it was her week until Wednesday, then I forgot the item at home Thursday.  On Friday, I finally scored big by bringing in The Ladybug Game.  Epic fail #2: Week of the Young Child.  The Young Child gets to come to school dressed up in some kind of theme for each day.  Forgot, forgot, forgot, Snow White, forgot.  School fundraiser book sale: I'm supposed to volunteer for a slot.  The only slot I can make is filled up by the time I get around to signing up, so I don't volunteer  (Also I'm left wondering: So the school sells books every year to raise money...to buy books.  Does that strike anyone else as strange or is it just me?)   Every Tuesday is show n tell. Student should bring an item that starts with the letter of the week.  After a month or two of total and utter shambolic motherhood, I finally get into the groove and send Charlotte to school with appropriate item 90% of the time.  Except now they have moved on from letters to rhyming.  This week I need an item that rhymes with "air."  I'm thinking the hair from my hairbrush is probably not a good idea.  That's all I can come up with at the moment.  Stunning success though--I do have two hosta plants, one of which tipped over and spilled dirt all over my car, to deliver on time for the class garden.  And you thought I was joking about the shade-loving perennials.  

A huge reason why I am such an anti-helicopter-parenting curmudgeon derives from my own upbringing. My parents could not be called helicopter parents, unless the helicopter drops the child off at a boarding school in the middle of nowhere Kenya with little contact with the outside world (I do not exaggerate on this point; I recall a telephone with a turn crank in place of dial with numbers) and leaves altogether.  I'm not criticizing, I turned out fine.  I bathed myself, dressed myself, fed myself, did my chores, solved my own interpersonal dilemmas.  I even--GASP--did my own homework!  WITHOUT BEING TOLD!  I actually graduated high school people!  Yes I did!  It's a freaking miracle I even survived, I tell you.  So forgive me for thinking my children can and should finish grade school without my help.  It's a hard-knock life. And this is why I pay taxes.  

In my defense, my parenting style is not the result of pure sloth or heartlessness.  I actually think it might be good for my kids to fend for themselves, to be responsible for their own crap, and to reap the consequences of irresponsibility.  Charlotte, for one, is starting to catch on that her mother is not exactly Super Mom.  She has started reminding me what I need to do and gathering her own things together.  Way to go, Charlotte.  Keep up the good work. I'll just be over here taking a nap.