Something I Vowed I’d Never Do

Posted: July 30th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Mom | No Comments »

So here I am yesterday explaining all the end of the year school stuff that’s coming up to Kate. Her preschool closes for a few weeks in August, probably so the teachers can get electric shock therapy and be refreshed for a new school year in September. And really, who can blame them.

Anyway, there are all these little events happening like a pot luck (blech) and one of those useless-for-any-reason-other-than-parental-nostalgia “graduations”—she’s not even off to Kindergarten next year, just more preschool. And as I’m in the process of telling her about all these items on her social agenda, I realize that after her three-week break she’ll be going back to a different classroom, a different set of teachers—the same school but a whole new scene. She’ll no longer be a Duckling, but a Wood Duck. Or is it a Gosling? The classrooms there are as confusing as their non-parallel naming structure.

This was a dramatic realization for me, since Kate is blindly devoted to and some would argue co-dependent with one of her teachers. Had I realized sooner that this change was upcoming I’d have started an elaborate debriefing process to ready her for A) not being in that teacher’s classroom and, B) having to deal with some other woman who will no doubt be nurturing and kind, but whom Kate will likely reject like some disfunctional kidney.

I mean, I for one am not a fan of change. Or maybe I just don’t even get why anyone would ever want to change anything, never mind actually welcome it. Call me the gal who grew up in the same house, went to the same school for nine years with the same 35 other kids, and has worn her hair the same way since it grew out from my newborn crew cut. Be it nature or nurture, in all things other than, say, fresh underwear, my default switch is set to No Change, Thank You.

So, not only did I need to wrangle with my sudden realization about Kate’s imminent new classroom, and the fact that I’d been remiss in bracing her for the change, I also had to come to terms with the fact that I was doing exactly what I’d vow I’d never do as a parent. Since, it was what my mother did to me. Or rather, didn’t.

It all goes back to my own elementary school experience, at the hallowed halls of The Rockwell School in fair Bristol, Rhode Island. On the playground the different classes lined up in military-like rows after recess to file into our classrooms. For some reason on our first day back at school the fall after Kindergarten, we all had to line up this way when we first arrived in the morning. But when I went to stand in the line my Kindergarten teacher was heading up, she laughed and told to go stand in another line with the First Grade teacher. To which I thought, “Wait, what?

Although this Childhood Traumatic Incident (TM) seems fairly ‘lite’ it somehow threw me for a loop. I guess I was just more confused than anything. The thing was, my mother hadn’t thought to tell me I’d be going into a different classroom, a different grade. And, when you’re a kid, if no one tells you stuff, then you often don’t know it.

I know that sounds like a basic premise, but I have other Mama friends who clearly weren’t neglected this way by their parents when they were kids, and are just realizing this now. My friend Becca recently posted in her blog about reading a library book about bees to her son. As she read it–stuff about hives, honey, yadda yadda–she was shocked by how fascinated and blown away her son was. It dawned on her that he didn’t know anything about bees. And she thought, “Well, why should he? We haven’t told him any of this stuff.”

And here’s the thing: The kid is 16! Well, not really, but my point being, I feel like I’ve been pretty good about trying to put myself in Kate’s shoes and explain to her things she has no background on. I’m not saying I’m a better parent than Becca–okay so maybe I am a little–but really, since I realized at a tender age that parents need to tell kids about the obvious-to-us-adults things or else they may find themselves trying to convince the teachers at school that, really, they are supposed to still be in Kindergarten, and could they just let them come back into the same classroom again, and please let’s not make a scene here.

I mean, I’m grateful those teachers found a way to get through to me back then or God knows how many classes I would have held myself back in over the course of my academic career.

So here I am. Tragically I’ve somehow managed to almost stumble into the same parental snake pit that is perhaps my legacy. Though Kate will likely outshine all her Mama’s childhood foibles and sashay into the Gosling?/Wood Duck?/Mallard? room in September all cool and easy and down with the different teachers and the whole new scene.

For her sake, and mine, I hope that’s the case.

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