Monday, April 30, 2012

Mud Pies, BFF's and Kindergarten Chaos

The life of a five-year-old is a busy one, indeed. In the past week my son has had three playdates, soccer practice, a soccer game, one playgroup, a sunday school class, helped babysit a 6-month old, had a dinner with our adoption group, attended 5 mornings of school, played countless hours of legos, owl hunting and mud-pie making, read 8 Magic Treehouse books and took approximately 4,000 baths.  Or he should've had 4,000 baths. We're sometimes not so good at that around here.

In the same span of time he has been on the losing end of 4 lotteries for kindergarten.  While his friends are all talking about where they are going next year (think the last few months of HS and college where that's ALL people ask you about) he has nothing to say. He keeps asking us where he's going to kindergarten and we have to give him that most unsatisfying of parental answers: "We don't know, kid."

The thing is, I've always been a public school girl.  I thrived, I got into a good college, I didn't make horrendously awful choices in my life.  I hadn't even heard of home school until I moved to the south.  I thought there were two choices growing up; Catholic school or Mahopac High School. That's it.  And then we moved to Durham.  The town where school choice is a taunting illusion. We applied to five lotteries to get our kid into a decent school that wouldn't suck out his soul. We're 288 on the wait list for one, 22 on another and not even on the wait list for a third charter. Of the two mainstream public ones we applied to, they don't do wait lists. So, it's just a no. And so our choice is to send him to a public school in our neighborhood that assigns an HOUR of homework a night after 7 hours of straight academic instruction with only a 1/2 hour of recess and does frequent evaluative testing (which they admit stresses out the kids), pay for a private kindergarten or home school.

Here's the deal. I love that my child loves to get muddy. I think it's great that we spent an hour making mud pies this afternoon and that I had to wash every piece of clothing he had on and hose him off as well. I love that he has a smile on his face because school has been fun and that he's made some great BFF's (he calls most of his friends best friends) at school, church and our neighborhood because they've had so much time to play together.  I love that he's bonded with some kids over legos others through his soccer team and still others over Cars cars. (Moms of young boys, you know what I mean there.)  I love that lunch takes an hour when his friend Damian comes over because they can't stop giggling long enough to chew their food.  And the idea of sending my five-year-old, so full of life, of energy, of joy, of spirit, of creativity to a place that is going to make him sit still from 8:30 until 3:30 every day with virtually no chance to play and then send him home with an hour of homework to keep him sitting down just tears me to bits.

 It's too soon.

Too soon to be strapped to a desk, too soon to be told that his academic life should define him, too soon to stop making mud pies and building cardboard houses for his Curious George.  Too soon to be so overwhelmed by academics that he doesn't have time for friends.  Hopefully, academics will never cause any of those things but certainly we cannot start this battle of priorities in Kindergarten.

We don't yet know what's going to happen.  We might still get into one of the charters, although it's unlikely. We might get into the private school, where we are also wait-listed. We might choose home school, a choice that I never dreamed this would come to.  One thing I do know is that kindergarten has changed since I went.  And I'm not ready for my five-year-old to be treated like a 10 year old just because he's in kindergarten.

I want another year of giggles and mud and legos and cars. I want my kid to stay a kid for at least a little while longer.      

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Stay strong with this! It IS too soon for all the craziness. Studies show it's not good for kids (even though middle school!). smh. We live our whole lives chasing the rat race. Kindergarden is not the place for it!

    Also, I LOVE Magic Tree House books! I had totally forgotten about those until just now. Thanks!