By John Jericiau
Now that Devin is seven weeks deep into kindergarten, it’s starting to hit us. Education, even at this age, is a serious matter. I’m not talking about the learning that is happening in Devin’s world. That is quite expected. It seemed like almost overnight Devin started telling us what new words he can now spell and what math equation (e.g. 4 + 4 = 8) he can now do in his head. It also happened so quickly that he went from a toddler whose drawings were no more than blobs of disfigured and disjointed bodies to a student of the Art Institute of Anywhere. He has started making self-directed art projects complete with stapling, scissoring, and gluing as if he’s been doing it all his life. You want to think that a seed was planted when we took him to those city classes for toddlers (e.g. Toddler Time!), but who really knows. Maybe we actually have the next Rembrandt living under our roof.
He has also come up with a few words and phrases that have obviously (to us) come from someone at school (e.g. SHUT IT!!!, awesome!, and YOU B*TCH!), because words like these had never crossed his lips before. Devin’s also been pressured by peers to finally hit some big milestones like tying his shoes, making his bed, and dressing independently. He’s also more willing to talk to other adults like the crossing guards, the principal, and the mailman, if nothing else but to say, “Have a nice day!”
Homework has been a challenge. He is already wiped out from a day of schoolandafterschoolSpanishclassandkarateandswimpractice. It’s hard to squeeze in one more thing. But he tries his best as we deal with the strange combination of his frustrated perfectionist side and his quickly distracted side. Luckily it’s only a page or two of homework, plus usually some kind of family project, on top of the daily compulsory reading, so it’s doable.
So I can really feel for him as his little brain is forced to work every day as he learns new things, meets new friends, and navigates his way around a kindergarten. But how about his Daddy, the old guy who has a brain about half as active as his young son’s brain (according to some studies)? Why is Daddy so incredibly exhausted at the end of these recent days? My theories follow.
Meeting new people. I have tried so hard to learn and remember the names of every parent and co-parent and nanny and grandma and grandpa and little brother or sister that joins Devin’s kindergarten classmates at pick up or drop off, as well as Dylan’s preschool. I have resorted to sneaking notes on my iPhone as I get introduced, and reviewing the notes as we walk to school the next day, which I highly recommend. I do it for Devin’s sake. I want Devin to have play dates and best buddies from this group. Most of the parents are actually pleasant enough. They’re also trying their best to find the common denominator with me, and so far being gay is not one of them. Not another gay man in sight. Almost all of the parents are aware of the double dad issue, since our picture is prominently displayed on the front door at the top of the heap for all to see. So far it appears not a single parent is avoiding me due to our sexual orientation. I gravitate to some of the parents more than others, and some I decide belong among the crazies and are best left alone.
Attending a PTA meeting. I finally attended my first full-fledged meeting, and although most of the attendees seemed pleasant enough, the group was heavily matrifocal. The couple of men that were present did chime in about subjects such as building maintenance and computer repair, but other than that we let the women dish out the complaints about the lack of funds to pull off a great bake sale or silent auction. I also signed up for volunteer hours with the school’s copy machine.
Analyzing the school scores. A few days ago “the” scores were published, and a statistics class in college sure did help me find my way. The parents of older kids have already dealt with and learned about API and APY and greatschools.com, but this is all new to me. Comparing your school to other schools and wondering if the low scores are going to impede your child’s progress toward his eventual job as President of the United States or Surgeon General is tiring and mind-blowing stuff.
Devin and I need to fit in some extra sleep to compensate for all the concentrating that we are currently doing. And since we’re now at 35 weeks pregnant with Baby Boy #3, better sooner than later.