Friday 20 July 2012

Kindergarten Information Night

At the end of June I got a phone call from Frack's school.  I was told that Kindergarten Information Night was coming up the following week.  It would be an hour long and I would get to meet Frack's teacher, find out if he is in the morning or afternoon class, which day he starts and other important stuff.


This sounded highly unnecessary.  Why not just call/mail/e-mail me that information?  What else could they possibly be talking about that would take up an hour?  I already know that peanut butter is taboo and they don't like yogurt tubes because they make a mess on the carpet.  It's kindergarten.  How complicated could it be?

You see, I learned a long time ago that walking into that school outside of actual school hours without an appointment is a colossal waste of time.  I steadfastly refuse to go to Open House or Meet the Teacher night ever again.

You go to these things and kill about five minutes looking at the disgraceful condition of your child's desk and admiring their art on the wall, and then you stand around awkwardly waiting to shake the teacher's hand because some asshat of a parent is monopolizing their attention for a good half hour or more and ultimately leaving without so much as making eye contact with her because some other pushier parent squeezes in before you and for all it was worth you could have just stayed home and relaxed.

Uh, no thanks.  I'll happily show up to watch my kid perform in a concert or something but that's about it.

So I resolved not to go to Kindergarten Information Night.

And then my Mother in-law offered to go.  I talked her out of it.  I assured her that they would probably send me that information anyway or that I could call the school to get it and that it hardly seemed worth it for her to drive all the way into town to do so, but it got me thinking.

I really respect my Mother in-law.  If she thinks it's a good idea to go to this thing maybe I should ignore my previous 6 years of experience and show up.  If she's willing to drive out from the farm then shouldn't I be willing to walk five minutes from my house?  If it's an hour long maybe they're doing it like an Open House (which would make sense) where I can just show up, get the information I need and then get the hell outta there.

And hey, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to bring Frack so he can see his classroom and meet his teacher.  That might help him be less shy when the first day of school came.  Besides, I had promised the boys to take them to the park near the school that day.  We could go there after we had checked everything out.

So I resolved to go to Kindergarten Information Night.

I packed up the boys and told Frick to meet us at the park and that we wouldn't be long.

As Frack and I approached the school I could see other parents and their prospective Kindergarteners milling into the gym.  That's not right.  The Kindergarten rooms are on the opposite side of the school.  The gym is reserved for concerts and assemblies.  This did not bode well.

But sure enough parents were filing into and filling up the gym.  It really wasn't looking like the kind of thing I could just drop-in on and then leave.  People were sitting down.  Some lady was at the front making a presentation.  I did not want to go in there, especially with a four year old who was expecting to go to the park.  I decided to hover by the door to see if I could hear what this lady was saying and see if it was worth staying for.

At that moment a short, disgruntled looking woman gruffly marshaled us into the gym.  I'm sure she would have ordered us to sit down except that they had run out of chairs and were going to find more.  Well, at least I could hear what the presenter was saying now.

"Blah, blah, learning...blah, blah, blah...because children love to play...blah, blah, blah..."

Look, it's nice to know that Kindergarten teachers understand the educational value of macaroni art and gluing shit onto cardboard tubes but all any parent really expects from Kindergarten is that their kid learn their ABC's and 123's.  I'm sure learning about this stuff might be interesting for some people but, having been there done that already with Frick, I wasn't one of them.

And judging from the confused looks on the other parents' faces I wasn't alone.  I mean we've only been chilling with these kids for the last four years.  I think it's possible we might have picked up a few things on play-based learning by accident over that time.  Maybe.

But it was too late for them.  They were already seated and listening whereas I was unseated and still close to the door.  What, were they going to hold me hostage here until I heard everything they had to say?  Were they going to keep Frack's teacher and classroom a secret from me because I missed Information Night?  I looked around at the bored Dads looking at their watches and the frustrated Moms trying to keep their squirming children quiet in hard plastic chairs so everyone could hear the Nice Lady at the front of the room.

Screw it.

"Hey Frack, let's go to the park and do some play-based learning."


He grabbed my hand and pulled me out the gym door nearly skipping with joy.  When we got outside we both burst into giggles and broke into kind of a run towards the park.  We passed a frazzled Mom and prospective Kindergartener in the parking lot.

"Hey!," she called after me.  "Are you going to Kindergarten Information Night?"

"Not anymore!"  I cried back with a laugh and raced my little boy to the playground.

He won.

Five days later we got a postcard from the school.  On it were his classroom, his teacher's name, and the time for our 15-minute appointment to meet with her before the first day of school.

I wonder if that Mom in the parking lot regretted going into that school gym after seeing me run gleefully away from it.

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