This morning I volunteered to serve as a registration helper in Ella’s kindergarten classroom. It was the annual school registration day, when all of the kids and their parents parade through the school and fill out more paperwork than a standard home mortgage application, while simultaneously being recruited for 10,000 different clubs and volunteer programs as they are also trying to find out what bus their kids will ride.
In short, it’s chaos.
But it was lovely. Ella’s teacher, a lovely woman I shall henceforth call Mrs. M, was a joy to work for and seemed wonderfully interested in being the best teacher ever. She was easy to talk with, and was interested in hearing about my daughter, just as she was interested in hearing about each of her 18 students. I think Ella will love her class and do well under her instruction.
The kids in Ella’s class were sweet, but they all are at that age, at least at first. I’m sure that once the school year gets underway, they’ll be seven different kinds of crazy, but for today they mostly came in and played on the floor while the parents filled out the endless forms. I didn’t spot any kids that made me nervous – if you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about: there are some kids that just give you that vibe and you just know that the little turd is going to somehow, someway do something to your flesh and blood so you prepare to dismantle the child in your mind. It sounds cruel and mean, but if you have a little one and ever run across one of those kids on the playground, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Overall the day went well. The smallness of the school struck me again, despite the fact that the classrooms are large and spacious, and the school is not even close to being at capacity numbers-wise. I guess when you stand in a room scaled to the smaller world of children, you find yourself feeling positively Gulliverian – waiting for the wee ones to rope you and haul you to the ground in mutiny. Tiny chairs, tiny pencils, tiny everything just reinforced for me the fact that my tiny daughter is growing up.
But I didn’t cry. Not once. I kept it together, at least until a very sweet woman at my church, Jenny Strozer, gave me a gift bag as I was leaving the office. Inside the bag was a note that read:
Dear Jason –
I know Monday will be a BIG day for you…so I got you some things to help you make it through the day: tissues (to use while crying), Xanax (to relax), and a paper bag (to hyperventilate).
You can do it!
And lo and behold, the bag did contain tissues and something to help me relax – two bags of Skittles, one of my all-time favorite candies. The sweetness and thoughtfulness of the gesture brought tears to my eyes on the ride home, not just because she was thinking about me, but because she knew how much I love my daughter.
Gotta love a woman who reads the blog and knows me that well.
And Jenny’s gesture reminds me just how powerful of a platform this blog really is, not in terms of readership or public awareness, but in terms of keeping track of history. I know Ella may not appreciate me writing about her so often, but I’m glad that whatever else I put on this electronic page, the love I have for her shows through. She may never read a word of what I write, but the timelessness of the Internet will always hold a record of my love. And that, in and of itself, is a neat thing to have as a father.
I’m feeling good about Monday now. I know I’ll probably blubber up as soon as she steps on the bus (and if you think I’m not videotaping that, you’re hysterically insane), but overall I’m not worried about how she’ll do once she gets to school. I know she’ll do just fine.
And from my lips to God’s ears: may that be a trait she carries with her the rest of her life, wherever she may find herself.
Now, here’s to one last weekend with my little girl. On Monday, she’ll well and truly be my big girl forever more.