Thursday, January 31, 2008

100 Days

Today is the 100th day of kindergarten, which is a major holiday among the five-year-old set. One hundred days. Shouldn’t I be used to this by now? One hundred early morning wake-ups, one hundred calls of “are your teeth brushed yet?” up the stairs, one hundred hurried breakfasts, one hundred struggles to find matching shoes, one hundred treks out to the driveway. One hundred matching afternoon treks. And yet somehow it all still seems so… new.

She’s learning a lot. I admit I was surprised by this. Imagine – you send your child off to school, and she learns! Who’d have thought? She reads entire books, mostly accurately; she adds and subtracts, also mostly accurately; she can identify a trombone playing on a CD; she entered and won second prize in an art contest. The other day she used the word “infer.” In a sentence. Correctly. And yet somehow it all still seems so… much.

She’s also learning the culture of school. Unavoidable, I suppose, unless you don’t send them at all, but distressing nonetheless. She plays school with her three-year-old brother, who routinely gets sent to see the principal (me) for things like not sitting on his bottom or talking when she’s talking. She corrects me for saying “A hundred and three” instead of “One hundred three.” Who makes up these rules? I have an advanced degree in mathematics, for God’s sake, and I’m telling you that it doesn’t matter! She scoffs at this. Of course it matters – her teacher said so. Rules are important, especially when you’re trying to deal with 21 five-year-olds by yourself all day. I understand this. And yet somehow is all still seems so… rigid.

I guess this is life – you take the good with the bad. You learn a lot, but some of it is pointless, or even wrong, and it may take you years to realize that. Figuring out what’s pointless or wrong and what’s important and correct may, in fact, be part of the learning. A meta-learning, if you will. I guess I’m slow in this respect, since I continue to be surprised by both the pointless, wrong things and the important, correct things. I just didn’t realize that it would be so… hard.

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