My very first guest blog post features the talented Chavva Olander, a dear and brilliant friend. Her article made me laugh – the first time I read it, the second time, and the third. Bet you can’t read this without laughing – and thinking about how much the world has changed since you were in kindergarten. She begins with a note, too funny and too true to leave out.
I have to preface this by saying that I am tremendously out of practice as I haven’t been writing at all, practically, until just a couple weeks ago. It is not like riding a bike. Or, maybe it is, and I’ve simply forgotten that, too. In any case, I feel leagues away from where I once was, which is disheartening, since, as my mother regularly feels compelled to remind me, I’m not actually getting younger despite the fact that I refuse to grow up. She also has been known to slip wrinkle cream into my purse when I’m not looking. I think there’s a diagnosis out there to explain this behavior, but I’ve just been too busy lately to consult my DSM IV (you can’t effectively people-watch without one). This is the first of a series of little essays I’m writing to try to become David Sedaris (one of my literary idols). I’m not as funny or as clever, or anywhere near as talented, but I’m trying, and someone once told me that counted for something, although I knew even at the time that they were probably lying.Here it is, Chavva’s first post:
You can tell your kids are attending a hippie school when your daughter’s Kindergarten teacher emails a reminder to please be sure to send your child with a yoga mat on the first day of school. “These mats will remain in the classroom,” the email elaborates, “and will be used during the ‘Daily Daydream.'” All these years, Delilah has been daydreaming wrong. How could I have missed this? I’ve read numerous books, pamphlets, leaflets, and articles on a variety of subjects related to child-rearing. Most mommy-centered publications seek to cause the reader distress over some manufactured parenting or personal failure, but not one of these parenting propaganda files mentioned requiring a yoga mat for daydreaming. I can’t even fathom how far I’ve set her back with this egregious neglect of her needs. Her imagination might be permanently damaged, unable to soar to the heights it might have reached had I been better informed. Not to mention how her older sister, Lilith, must be affected, never having been provided the opportunity to daydream with the proper equipment. And what about us? In light of these new findings, how can we claim to have dreamed? My God, how can we claim to have lived?
The only thing keeping me from throwing in the proverbial towel (definitely a gym towel in this case…to match the yoga mat) is the fact that both of the girls are pretty outstanding bubble gum bubble-blowers. Perhaps this skill will bring them some comfort when they are confronted with life’s harsh realities. If they can’t close their eyes and dream away their sorrows, they can at least spend their free time cultivating a healthy oral fixation. I’ve found it to be a key element in the development of strong social skills, particularly if you plan to hang with the cool kids.
Apparently, when Delilah’s class isn’t singing folk songs and learning to seamlessly transition from downward dog to child’s pose, they are hard at work solving the most perplexing and critical problems facing our world. I came to this conclusion after reading another email sent by her teacher. This email arrived on Monday evening, and opened with a note congratulating both me and my Kindergarten Scholar on completing the first day of school. While I appreciate her acknowledgment of my role in Delilah’s great success (I did have to brave an epic traffic jam, parallel park, and even make eye-contact with other parents to ensure her prompt arrival, after all), I would hardly deem it worthy of the hearty congratulations offered in the message. What really gave me pause, though, was the use of the word scholar. Paired with the word kindergarten, the effect is somewhat paradoxical. I don’t mean to insult Delilah’s intelligence. I’ve always thought she was a smart kid, and definitely ahead of the game academically, but I don’t know that I’d call her a scholar. The term seems best suited to describing someone who has developed some sort of genius thesis on the nature of reality, or at least mastered subtraction with borrowing.
Escalating my confusion was a request made in the latter part of the email. Delilah’s teacher, a lovely woman whose appearance suggests that she emerged from adolescence only moments before receiving her teaching credential, noticed that some of the scholars had a little difficulty at snack time on the first day of school. It seems that pondering the great mysteries of the Universe leaves little time for such trivialities as accruing the basic common-sense skills needed to function. Many of the eager young minds of tomorrow found that choosing an item from their lunch box to eat at snack time was a task not unlike the one Robert Frost described in that dull and over-analyzed poem of his. While some scholars simply took too long to select their snack item, others took the road less traveled and simply ate their lunch in its entirety, leaving them nothing to eat at lunch time. This crisis prompted the teacher’s request that parents pack their scholars a snack in a separate lunch box to eliminate any potential stress and confusion.
While shopping for the additional lunch box necessitated by this request, it occurred to me that a true scholar would probably not find snack time so overwhelming. Of course, I wondered whether Delilah’s scholarly ambitions had been thwarted by the snack experience. Was she one of those kids bringing down the Kindergarten curve? I asked her if she’d had a hard time deciding what to eat for snack, and she replied that she hadn’t, revealing that she had known right away that she wanted to eat her strawberries. I then questioned whether she had been tempted to eat all the food in her lunch box at snack time. I couldn’t help it, I just had to know. She gazed at me, her eyes squinted slightly and her nose scrunched in confusion. “Of course not!” she responded. “Snack time isn’t lunch time. It’s just snack.”
It was just what I had been hoping for, although I’m not sure Delilah’s scholar-status has been cemented just yet. She might be able to snack with confidence, but the other day she became enraged when a piece of gum fell out of her mouth as she was trying to lick her elbow. I’m not sure what it all means, and with just a few minutes left in the day it seems unlikely I’ll figure it out tonight. At least I’ll have something to think about at work tomorrow after sending my two scholars and their three lunch boxes off to school for a day of dreaming, yogic exertion, and hopefully, a sound helping of actual academic instruction.