mardi, septembre 12, 2006

Yanking the Band Aid Off; or: How We Survived the First Day of Kindergarten

Sorry so much time has passed since I last posted. I hope you are well.

TinyE is now a Kindergartener. She seems to enjoy it. Here’s how I can tell, the following are actual quotes from an actual conversation at our actual kitchen table.

Duf and Mrs. Duf: “How was the first day of school?”
TinyE: “Great” (her answer for everything)

The first day of school (last Thursday for Kindergarten) could not have come soon enough. We were all excited, and (counting Friday) we’d been home too many days in a row. Worse, I was trying to work and be a dad at the same time, and in case you don’t know it, let me share the Duf’s First Law of Parenting:

c + da = u

children + divided attention = unhappiness

One cannot attend work calls and watch a toddler at the same time. All things will suffer. All persons will suffer.

So the first day of school arrives.

Mrs. Duf, who starts work at 7:00, met us at the school at 8:30. We went to Discovery Club* with the intention of staying with her there for 30 minutes (adding money to her lunch account, dropping off paperwork, walking through the classroom, etc.) then escorting TinyE to her classroom. This was a bad idea from the beginning, but we were too close to it, we couldn’t see its badness. We completely forgot Duf’s Second Law of Parenting:

The length of time at which an activity or habit continues is directly proportionate to the expectation it creates in the child, that said activity or habit will continue. Or, expressed differently:

c x t = e

continuity multiplied by time = expectation

So, the longer we stay in the building the greater is her expectation that we will stay in the building.

We stayed until 9:00.

We created an expectation.

And, on the advice of the Discovery Club team, we left.

She cried**. I was on the very verge of tears myself***.

Mrs. Duf was stoic.

Many pictures were taken. I’ll share some in my next post.

Duf’s Third Law of Parenting, which I’ll share on closing, provided the right note for the entire exercise.

Parenting, is like band-aid removal. Sometimes, the nicest thing you can do is be a little cruel.

In the end, things usually go well.

*Before and after care for kids whose parents desire so little for their children that, instead of being home all day, they both take full-time jobs outside the home.

** I thought I might tear up a bit. I’m an emotional man, I don’t deny that. But, I actually held up okay. Perhaps it was Mrs. Duf’s sterling example that guided me.

***The best (or worst?) first day of Kindergarten story involved a man literally placing his kid on a bus, after much wrangling, wrestling and screaming; then running off the bus, having the bus driver close the door just before the kid got to it. Driving away while the young lad pounded on the windows. Ouch. Had that happened to me, were I required to make that kind of drop, I would have balled like a baby.