Friday, August 22, 2014

Back To School Night

Tonight is "Back to School" at night at Minedeo for The Boy and Little Bear. It's really exciting, because Little Bear is entering kindergarten this year. We're hoping that he's going to have the same teacher as The Boy had last year, as we have a good relationship with her. The Boy absolutely loved her, and Little Bear got along with her as well - he tagged along frequently when The Wife went to school to volunteer time. The Wife and Grandma (who both spent a lot of time in the school last year as volunteers) trust her, and that's good enough for me. I met her a handful of times, and was in the classroom three or four times, and she seems like a good teacher.

One of the side benefits of having a stay-at-home wife (well, a "works Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning" wife) is that she can be a presence in the school on a regular basis. I don't expect preferential treatment, or anything like that; I truly believe that my children are intelligent enough to earn any preferential treatment that they get. Having an educated professional in the school on a regular basis means that we have a finger on the pulse of the building, getting an idea of what's going on and who the teachers to request and to follow really are. Schools, and teachers, are only human; things fall in the cracks sometimes. Having a parent in the building regularly means that we have someone who can fight, if necessary, to make sure nothing gets lost in the cracks.

Not to mention, one kindergarten teacher with 24 kids and one teaching assistant is not the best ratio. So, another body in the room means that the teacher can spend more time teaching and managing and less time wiping noses, settling restless children, and setting up lesson supplies.

The boys spent some time the other day making "school supply bags" for their classmates: plastic bags with pencils, erasers, crayons, etc. Grandma is an amazing shopper, and when the office supply stores have sales for teachers, she gobbles up plenty of supplies for donation. Most of the places will have 1 cent sales on stuff like that once or twice a year; she'll purchase a whole bunch of stuff for the express purpose of gifting to classrooms. (She does other, awesome stuff, too; she's not confined to 1 cent pencils 'n'at. But, imagine if 5-10 parents per homeroom spent a buck on school supplies for the classroom during the 1 cent sales?) They'll deliver the supplies later this week so every kid in their classes will start the year well.

I'm interested to see how Little Bear copes with school. He's like me: very sensitive, very self-aware and self-conscious, and very empathetic to the people around him. That didn't serve me particularly well through most of my school career; the only thing that saved me from being a regular target was that I was bigger than most of the other kids (thereby meaning there were smaller, weaker, and easier targets) and smarter than the other kids (and able to redirect most attempts at bullying and/or teasing right back at the offender). The Boy was built for school: he like rules, boundaries, routines, and paperwork. Little Bear is more of a free spirit.

Granted, I still think Little Bear likely has the most native intelligence in the house, me and The Wife included. If you put him in an academic 2nd or 3rd grade class, he'd do fine. I just worry about him dealing with negative people and negative authority figures. The Boy is likely to be top ten in his class, after high school. He's that kind of kid. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as valedictorian; it wouldn't surprise me if he followed the example of his uncles C (on her side) and B (on my side) and have a few questionable English grades in high school knocking him out of the top 10. Having said that, I can also see The Boy turning entirely off in a class because a teacher isn't as smart as he is, so who knows? School is different in 2014 than it was in the 80's when I went.


The side effects of school are starting to rear their heads. This fall, The Boy and Little Bear are playing fall baseball on Monday nights; The Boy has a boys' choir on Wednesday evenings, and he'll have violin lessons on another afternoon (maybe the same afternoon, after the rehearsal). The Wife has orchestra on Tuesday nights and quartet on Thursday nights; I have quartet on Monday or Wednesday nights and chorus on Tuesday nights. She works on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. So, we start the staggered chauffering of children from place to place.

It's much harder at this point than it will be later: the kids still have to be in car seats, so it's tough to get a friend at the same rehearsal/practice to throw your kid in the car to drive somewhere. When they're a little bigger, and don't need the car seats, then they can hop in a car and go. Now, it's tricky.

I anticipate a quartet rehearsal or two at the baseball park in our future. Sigh. May that be the worst issue we face this school year.

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