It’s 6:45 Tuesday morning. I am exchanging emails with the kindergarten teacher, trying to schedule a time in the remaining few weeks of school for me to come read to the class. Zach has been wistfully referring to the “guest readers” for months now, and I have finally taken the hint. The teacher – a new mom – has been up for hours and is cheerfully replying to my emails, wedging in an extra slot.
I do this all before dropping Zach at school. He’ll go straight to the Y after morning kindergarten for Fun in the Afternoon. The afternoon kindergarteners do Fun in the Morning. This is how we extend half-day kindergarten.
I pick him up at two o’clock, waiting for ten minutes outside the classroom, which has a glass door. I stand to the side of this glass door; the teacher doesn’t see me right away, so she calls several other children first. He scowls at me. “You weren’t standing in the hallway.”
I give him the Sun Butter cookies I made. It turns out that Joy of Cooking peanut butter cookies are just as tasty if you sub in honey for all the sugar, whole wheat flour for white flour, and Sun Butter for peanut butter, thereby rendering them acceptable even for nut-free classrooms. By the time I was done tinkering, they were a mighty healthy treat, and Zach even likes the ones that were slightly overbaked.
We pick up his brother from preschool and go home. I offer them more cookies, but explain there won’t be enough for everybody if they don’t also eat the darker ones. “No fair!” Zach yells. “They’re disgusting!”
The boys rest a little, eat snack, refrain from beating one another up for the most part. Lilah wakes up from nap and I nebulize her before we run out the door to go back to the Y. We’re overscheduled, I know, but Zach loves the Tuesday afternoon art class and Ben needs to swim at least twice a week or he shrivels up into a ball.
Picking Zach up from the same classroom, I am careful this time to be standing on the opposite wall so I can be seen as soon as the teacher opens the door. She comes out and begins hanging pictures on the wall. Finally, she sends out the kids. “Guess which mask your child made!” she tells the parents.
I scrutinize the pictures, masks inspired by Native American art. I know Zach’s style, and after a moment, I pick out the correct piece, much to his teacher’s surprise. “No!” he pouts, sticking out his lip. “I didn’t want you to guess.”
Because, apparently, knowing his artwork indicates some basic lack of concern for him.
In the car on the way home, I mention that I am going to be the guest reader. “You know, you’ll need to pick a book for me to read to the class on Thursday.”
“The only books I like the other kids in the class won’t be into!” he mopes.
“You mean chapter books?”
“Yes. I only want you to read chapter books.”
“But, honey, I can’t read a chapter book to the class. I only have fifteen minutes.” This, I think, is a reasonable response.
“The only books you can read are chapter books,” he insists. “Or you can’t come in.”