Thursday, April 11, 2013

They still call it “Back to School Night”, if you were wondering. I shudder a bit at the thought. I hated school, though I will never admit it to my children. I was bored and annoyed, the latter due to the social construct, and the former due to... well, let’s just say they never taught me what I wanted to know. I still have bad dreams where I find myself in a strange classroom at midterms, not recognizing anything. I liked college, where I found real classes about real subjects that stoked my pre-existing passions and curiousnesses. (It’s a word. Trust me.) But elementary school I remember not enjoying, though I aced it for six years. It was in high school where I realized none of it mattered, and then blew the grades off, too. I think I was right, no one cared.

It’s different for the Little Ditchman. Someone cares. And she loves school. She is perfectly un-shy, which I never was, and she’ll sit in the front row or back, raise her hand anyway, and give it her best shot. Her teacher just told me to move along when I asked how she was doing. “You have absolutely nothing to worry about,” she claimed, glad for the respite from the troubled, struggling ones in the class, I presume. And then Mrs. K added, “She’s an artist.” And I kinda felt like apologizing.

As much as I was proud. Good, I thought, because I always wanted to be an artist, which is all about materializing the meaning of existence, and here I’d finally done it by having children (which seems an awful sort of Mobius loop.)

Then the 1st grade teacher added, “If there is something to be concerned about...” and I thought, Oh dog, here it comes, the first big school problem, and she continued, “...she takes too much time with the drawings. It takes her a while. Everything has to be perfect.” And I looked at Mrs. Ditchman and said, “I wonder where she gets that from.” But Mrs. Ditchman just smiled back at me, neither taking responsibility for it nor blaming me, which is one of the reasons I love her so. (But we both know, it’s me.)

Serena took me around the room (Mommy volunteers in the class, so has seen it all) and showed me the leprechaun traps, the toucan drawings, the rainbow writings, and so forth. Beautiful, perfectly cute 1st grade faire. And then she showed me a selection of “All About Me” posters that the pupils had done. They had their names and a self-portrait, a few fun facts about their pets, and a drawing of their family. And in the lower right-hand quadrant, a space where they had to write out and illustrate the rest of the phrase, If I had one wish, I would wish for... 

And it was enjoyable to review the class’s answers. Mrs. K had filled out the first one, and drew a nice little line drawing of herself on a beach in Tahiti, which sounded perfectly wonderful to me. The rest of the kids had things like, a pet bunny, and a pony,  and a new toy, which sounded utterly, prepubescently charming. But then we got to Serena, who, when asked the question “If I had one wish, I would wish for” answered, confidently, with “my own world.” And drew it out, so there was no mistaking just whose world it was.

So she wants her own world. Who can blame her? Is this not a base sentiment in each and every one of us? This little girl, when you take her out and about for most of the day,  upon arriving at home will disappear into her bedroom, close the door, and not emerge for at least a good half hour. Who knows what she does in there? Plays. Reads. Arranges things. Then she comes out and acts like she was never away. Little smile on her face. So she needs Her Own World. This, I totally respect.

You lose it when you have kids. And this, I have said before. I would like to trademark the statement, or title a book with it. You Lose It When You Have Kids! I love the multiple meanings of the phrase, “You lose it.” Because when you do have kids, you lose it all; your money, your time, your life, your patience, your sanity, your world. And you just have to accept that this is what you asked for, whether you knew it or not at the get-go. But kids deserve their invented worlds. Where else would they go? Their parents lost theirs.

So it’s funny that she wishes for one. Because, even in the first grade, you realize the world is not your own. And how about that? A good lesson. For me, for you. For a kid.