I forgot how much I love spending time in little classrooms. Up until we moved to New York last April, I spent a lot of time in Parker’s schools. In Cape May I volunteered once a week working in the teacher’s lounge, helped run the class parties, chaperoned field trips, and attended all of the school concerts, awards assemblies, and after school family nights. In Texas I was the room mom, I planned and organized all of the holiday parties, went to the school fundraiser dinners as well as the special assemblies and events. I loved it and it always made me wish I’d finished my education degree.
But in New York City public schools, there isn’t much opportunity for parental interaction. There aren’t really any awards assemblies, concerts, holiday parties or family events. You’re not even allowed to have lunch at the school, which is something Parker used to love for me to do. Now excuse me while I step up onto my soap box for a minute. Being a presence in your child’s school is so important. Not only does it show your kid that you care about their education and what goes on in their daily life away from home, but it opens up a dialog with your child’s teacher that normally parents don’t get. I don’t understand people who have the ability to be involved but choose not to be. Okay, I’m done now.
Today was my first real day in Parker’s class in almost a year. The third graders finally finished up their informational writing unit and parents were invited in for a reading of the essays. Let me just say, these essays were a pain in the ass. Parker wrote his on sharks and while he just might be a little expert on the subject, writing this paper involved several hours of research, arguments and discussions about plagiarism, and an eventual turning of the back to mom and heading to dad for help. The cover page alone took an hour to design and print.
I headed into the school with Ruby in tow because Josh wasn’t able to take the morning off to come along (or stay home with Rubes). I was a little nervous about bringing her because she has been pretty demanding lately and shows no signs of Parker’s shyness or Theo’s desire to meld with the big kids. She couldn’t care any less about what the teacher thinks (Parker’s huge on not disappointing authority) or acting like a big kid (Theo used to sit at a desk and not move if that’s what the rest of Parker’s class was doing).
Don’t let that picture fool you.
We spent 45 minutes listening to the kids’ essays and during that time Ruby took her shoes off and refused to put them back on, licked Parker’s face and piercingly screamed three times – and not because anything was wrong, she just wanted the attention of the class I guess. Parker let her share his seat with him and gave her one of his pencils and post it notes so she could draw. He never seemed annoyed or embarrassed and when I mentioned that I may have to just take her and go, he insisted that she wasn’t a distraction and that they were almost done. Luckily the teacher had donut holes for everyone because Ruby was not planning on leaving without taking Parker with her. The donut was just enough of a distraction to get her out of the school before she started wailing.
I had to laugh because while I used to get complimented on Theo’s behavior anytime I took him into the school with me, today I got complimented on how well Parker handles his sister. Basically it was, “Your daughter’s out of control but your son is a really sweet big brother.” Ha!
Even though Rubes was a little nuts, I still had a good time. It was nice to see Parker interact with his friends (he’s the leader of the table and it was adorable seeing him instruct the 5 kids he’s responsible for) and to put a face to some of the names I’ve heard so often. It was also a relief to hear that Parker wasn’t the only one who had issues with plagiarizing. Let’s just say there were a lot of words that were unable to be pronounced during those 45 minutes.
Today reminded me how much I love the atmosphere of elementary schools. Don’t tell Josh but it even got my wheels spinning towards the possibility of going back to college. In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing as much as I can here and waiting patiently to get back to a school district where volunteering is encouraged. And next week I get to make pizzas with Kindergarteners as a chaperone for Theo’s first ever field trip. That should make for a good time 😉