April 30, 2009

Round 'em up

Andrew and I have officially been rounded up, for Kindergarten that is.

Andrew looked forward to roundup for months. He knew what day it would be and even what time. He has forever known where it would be because every time we've gone to the playground there, for as long as he can remember, we've told him that someday this would be his school.

He was ready.

I've also always known about the school. My mom taught there for years and while I didn't spend a lot of time at the building, roundup certainly wasn't my first time inside the doors. My neighborhood friends have all talked about the school since before there even was an Andrew. All that limited, peripheral knowledge has created a comfort level with a place with which I've never technically been associated.

I was ready.

On roundup day, Andrew and I delivered Thomas to school, ran a couple or errands and still arrived early. I felt like it was MY first day of school.

But, we were ready.

We were greeted by a smiling face at the door and she recognized me from my mom's past life there. Whew. We had this licked.

We were ushered into a kindergarten classroom where I was handed a mound of forms and after meeting "the team," Andrew was ushered into another room. He went without a backward glance and with a big smile.

I chatted with other parents, chatted with the school nurse, completed many pieces of paperwork and we were told by the principal about how drop-off and pick-up work. We were also given a Parents' Guide to the school by the PTO and notified of myriad volunteer opportunities for parents.

About 30 minutes later Andrew was brought back to me. He was as happy as when he'd left and was four pieces of artwork richer upon his return. He had successfully labeled them all with his name and had demonstrated an ability to cut, glue and color inside the lines. He reported that they had checked his vision but if he was screened in anyway beyond that, he hadn't noticed it happening.

We were then taken on a tour of the building where we saw the art room (inspiring!), the music room (fun!), and the gym and library as well as the classrooms and cafeteria. At that point everyone smiled, thanked us for coming and acted as if we had all learned all we would need to know for a successful academic career at our neighborhood elementary.

We were ready.

But, really? Are we ready?

I think that's an overwhelming, "yes, we're ready," mixed with a resounding, "we will never be ready."

I don't know why I didn't think of this a year ago, but while we were touring the building I had the horrifying realization that we had almost sent him on this journey 12 months ago. We wrestled with that decision and now I saw clearly what a terrible mistake that would have been. Was he ready? I'm not sure. Were we ready? No. And suddenly it became obvious that sending him would have been a mistake for us because we would have cheated ourselves of an entire year of him living in our house. How's that for selfish?

I'm sure the trained staff learned all they needed to about Andrew to understand which teacher would be a good fit and enough to see where his basic strengths and challenges lie during their thirty minutes with him. And I can't think of any good questions I should have posed right now, but, really, are we ready?

I don't know where the name "roundup" originated for kindergarten orientation and I'm sure someday I'll think it sounds charming, but for now it sounds like herding cattle. The mama bear in me wanted to stand on a table and tell anyone who would listen about how this particular piece of livestock is different than the rest. I didn't even want to paint the picture of a perfect cow, because that wouldn't be accurate, but I wanted to tell someone, anyone, about all the things he does so well and how to best keep him interested in his current pasture so he doesn't try to ram the fence and entertain the rest of the herd.

But, alas, I showed restraint. They'll figure it all out, I'm sure, and we'll figure it all out as well.

On August 13, we'll just enter the building and look assured as we tell them we're ready. The question is, are they?

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