We decided to put Zachary in kindergarten in the new town, even though he had been in Pre-K in Los Angeles.  He was bored in his old preschool, plus we thought that it was best to minimize the transitions over the next year.  So, his first day of kindergarten, rather than being a proud September milestone, was the last day of November, just four days after we arrived in this very small town.

We took him to the school playground to play over the weekend, for all the good that did.  He kept telling us, “I want to get to school so that it will be over with.”  Just the attitude we wanted from our five-year-old.

I had that first morning all planned out.  I would take the double stroller so that the younger two kids could sit while I took care of delivering Zachary to his teacher.  I brought along apples – my favorite method of crown control.  I thought through exactly what I would pack in his bag and what I would dress him in.

However, the unfortunate fact is that parents simply cannot absorb their children’s anxiety for them.  The first day of kindergarten in a brand-new place with kids who already know each other is terrifying.  There is no way around that.

We went in a few minutes before drop-off to meet his teacher, a long-term substitute who, it turns out, was starting on the same day as Zachary because the regular teacher is out on maternity leave.  Then we went outside to line up with the other kids.

Zach – my brave little guy – stuck close to me.  I turned the stroller so that he could talk to his siblings, thereby giving him a face-saving activity in case all the other kids were checking him out.  He chattered to me, clearly trying to make conversation so that he would seem cool in front of his new classmates.  They are five; they have yet to learn that talking to one’s mother is not exactly the height of cool.

Then, it was time for him to line up.  He stood between two boys.  “This is the line for kindergarten,” the boy behind him said.

“I’m going into kindergarten,” Zach replied.

“How old are you?” the child challenged.

“I’m five.” He held up the fingers, because accompanying hand gestures put everyone at ease.

The boy in front stood right in front of Zach, his chest almost pressed against the poor kid’s face.  “I’m taller than you are.”

Having gone to a Jewish preschool, Zachary has been spared the knowledge that he is very, very short for his age.  In that moment, the first interaction he had with his future classmates, he was forced to come to terms with his diminutive stature and at the same time find a face-saving response.  The other mothers weren’t even aware of the conversation, but my stomach was sinking.  Just then, the teacher stepped out and waved in the kids.

As he ran into the school with the line, Zach called out, “That’s because I only eat bread!”

A few minutes later, when I had to pop into the room to pick up his epipen, he was sitting in the back of the group, looking so anxious that I was certain he was about to vomit all over the classroom floor.  Yet, when I picked him up that afternoon, both he and his teacher said he had a great day.  Apparently, a little girl with glasses had taken him under her wing and pointed out every single feature of the school.

Of course, when we got home, he had to replay the entire “I’m taller than you are” conversation.  “I told them it’s because I only eat bread.”

“Well, what did they say in response?”

“Nothing.  They couldn’t respond to that.  That’s why it was a good answer,” he replied.

You know what?  I think this kid is going to be OK.

22 responses to “Newbie

  1. I’m glad he’s off to a good start 🙂

  2. yes, he’ll be just fine. 🙂

  3. He will indeed be fine. When we first arrived there was some ugliness with a couple neighbor kids. Nothing horrible, but subtle little mean-nesses (guess that’s not really a word). Now, the 3 boys play together often and they come looking to include him. He is not the most popular and I think sometimes they secretly still tease him a bit, but it is working out. When it started I was scouring the web reading about bullies and empowering your child. Turns out what was mostly needed was time. Hang in there, he’s a smart and strong little man.

  4. I love it! He’s either a very quick thinker or he’s more aware than you realize and had been busy preparing as well… or both.

  5. I can’t decide if it makes Zach super-mature, or me super-immature that I use that same criteria for determining good answers.

    Eh, let’s go with the former. It has certainly served me well in life. Sounds like he’ll be fine. 🙂

  6. Zach is my hero.

  7. Why would he not know that he is short going to a Jewish school?

  8. I’m with anon. Are Jews historically short?

  9. Hope K goes great for Z.

  10. American Jewish people are often quite short because they are predominantly European (having fled anything from pogroms to the Holocaust and ended up here). The European Jewish people were often segregated and therefore reproduced mostly with one another. One trait that has resulted is diminutive stature. Now, there are certainly tall Jewish people, but in a preschool of all Jewish children in the US, the average height is likely to be lower.

  11. Zach can clearly think on his feet. I really do think that any kid who can do that is going to be OK.

  12. I love that he came up with an answer. That he came up with an answer that was acceptable to him. Love it.

    I hope he transitions well.

  13. My Jewish father-in-law and his brothers are 6’1″ plus, and my husband and his cousins clear 6′. Not sure why they’re on average shorter- might be that their mothers aren’t Jewish. My Jewish grandfather was also 6′, which was huge during the 30s. My children are sporadic Hebrew school attendees, but they don’t generally tower over their classmates- at least, no more than they do their classmates in public school.

  14. I’m sorry… you smell that? …..(snif….snif….) Yup, I smell the makings of a really interesting children’s story. I can just picture Z running into the building behind the other boys shouting, “That’s because I only eat bread!”
    Well done!

  15. aw. hooray for sweet girls with big wings (or not so big wings. the line about him going to a jewish preschool so not realizing how small he was made me laugh out loud)

  16. He sounds like a child after my own heart.

  17. I happen to agree. There are SOME Jewish people that are short, just like SOME Jewish people with big noses. Unless you can show me some statistics that disprove that, it is important that people realize that Jewish people, just like any people come in all shapes, sizes, and heights.

  18. Dude. He can so hold his own. ROCK on.

  19. Cheeky Monkey

    I kind of love that little girl with glasses. It only takes one. I hope the bread keeps working out for him.

  20. Yup, I think he’ll be okay too. 🙂

  21. coldspaghetti

    Hooray Zach!