Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In Which "Sammy" Lost His "Y"

Today was the first day of kindergarten. Our little newly-turned-five girl had been treating this threshold as No Big Deal. Which seemed rather reasonable, since she has been in seven different in-home daycare situations and two preschools in her short life. And her kindergarten teacher would be the same lady who taught her cousin last year.

She was more concerned with why I would not allow her (myself, that is) to buy a Bratz backpack and fill it with Bratz folders and Bratz pencils (Me: They look mean and unhealthy, and, well, bratty. And they wear too much makeup. Her: I know they wear too much makeup...and they don't look mean; they just want people to know they're serious. Me: No Bratz. Not in our house. Period.).

Nevertheless, reality set in when she and I and 15 other kindergarteners and their parents occupied Room 3 for the first official time. She realized there wasn't a single familiar soul in the room besides me, and I was bound to leave before too long.

The whimpering began shortly after she found her name at her table and figured out how to sling her backpack over her chair. "What if I can't do this, Mom?" her little voice quavered. When her teacher invited her new crew to the carpet for Morning Stuff, while the parents retreated to the sidelines like wallflowers, it was my daughter who kept glancing back and mouthing "Don't go..." Her pleas inspired sympathetic looks from the other parents, whose kids all looked to me like kindergarten redshirts--bigger, and more mature (although, to be fair, our tiny daughter is not a good yardstick).

When tears began welling and I watched her attempts to surreptitiously wipe them on her sleeves, I knew it was time for me to make my exit. My last glimpse of my kindergarten kiddo was of her accepting comforting words from a sweet girl seated next to her on the mat.

But of course by the end of the day she was on top of the world. She ate pizza and peaches ("in that yummy juicy sauce, Mommy") and had chocolate milk from the cafeteria. She saw her cousin and old preschool friends at lunch and recess. She learned that her "crown" is her head (huh? "Mom, from 'Jack and Jill'!"), that there's no talking when others are talking, and that she needs to raise her hand to ask or answer a question.

I asked if anyone was naughty at kindergarten.

Her eyes grew wide. "Yep," she offered. "'Sammy' [ed: name changed to protect the mostly innocent] was mean to lots of people."

"What did the teacher do?" I asked.

"Well, she wrote all our names on the board. And if you're not nice, she erases some letters."

I almost spit out my wine. "Really?" I tried not to laugh. "So how many of his letters got erased?"

"Only the Y," she shrugged.

At which point it occurs to me that perhaps having the First Letter of Your Name erased represents a much greater stigma.

I'd hate to be named Amy in Ms. D's class. Or T.J. That's for sure.


Debbie said...

The letters being erased cracks me up! I had an awful teacher in 10th grade (yes, that's right--10th!) who used to write our names on the board if we were bad under the title 'whiney butt.' I think I'd have liked losing a couple of letters better.
Glad the rest of the day went better!

me said...

Reminds me of the Charlie & Lola story, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School. I hope the rest of the week was great!