Emboldened by my own success of finishing the doll house, and BOTH children’s baby books (only four to six years after the fact, mind you), I’m moving on to bigger things: Volunteering in my son’s first-grade classroom.
I’ve always had my young, beautiful barnacle with me, at all times of the day, waking and sleeping. She is my weight when I work out, and when I shop, my lap-warmer wherever I sit, including the toilet, my constant companion. Now that she has started to bloom and is willing to be separate from me as long as she is promised a lunch box filled with snacks, it is time for me to find myself again. But first, get some stuff done.
One of my unavoidable regrets is that I haven’t been involved in my son’s school. I just couldn’t be there. My daughter isn’t a babe in arms to bundle into a pouch and carry along for the ride. Even when she was in that stage, I was far too exhausted and merely surviving to do much of that anyway. She is four and curious and you simply don’t bring along another child when you go volunteer in a classroom. I mean, you want to be there to help, not introduce the teacher and students to a lesson in frazzled mom multitasking, complete with whispered threats to, and snack residue from the tag-along kid.
Since my youngest wouldn’t be away from me, I couldn’t be there for my oldest. And it stung. He’s a talker, for sure, but if you ask him about the particulars at school he’ll tell you that they learned about a specific creature from the Silurian today (Uh, no. They didn’t. You read that in a book last night), and that his friend’s imaginary Nag Creature (don’t even get me started on Nagle) learned to ride a bike today! So, basically, I have no idea what they actually do in school.
This morning, I told him I was coming in for an hour to help and wouldn’t you know it, the one day when I’ll actually be able to see for myself what goes on in his classroom, he talked for 25 minutes straight, detailing exactly what they do, minute-by-minute in the morning. This is more information than he has given us in the last two and half years, combined. Thanks, kiddo.
I’m still curious, though. He came home last week with Charlotte’s Web, and instructions to read the first five chapters and finish a comprehension and vocabulary packet. Now, you know my thoughts on first-grade homework, which is not very positive, and so I’m baffled by this amount of work. What are you doing in school, Q? Why do you have so much work? Do other kids bring this much home? He has no answers.
Hopefully I’ll glean a bit more when I go in today and in the next times I volunteer. So, yes, my volunteering in his classroom is entirely selfish. It allows me to understand that part of his life I knew so little about and had to accept at face value. It allows me to see him more often. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me find my own way. I once was a teacher, you know. You probably don’t. It is ancient history. I got my teaching license after working in a microbiology lab for several years. I am certified to teach any and all science except advanced physics to sixth through twelfth graders. Or, I was. I never used my license. I don’t know if I ever will outside my offspring.
First things first. I’ll let you know how first grade goes.