Kindergarten

From time to time, I’ve found myself on my kids’ school campus after classes have begun. There doesn’t seem to be any way to escape to my car without walking past Garrett’s kindergarten classroom. And, like an air traffic controller hyper-alert on espresso, Garrett has an amazing ability to know when I am walking by his building and reroute me into his orbit.

A few mornings ago, he begged me to stay for a few minutes to witness “Calendar Time,” the morning weather report, a little show-and-tell, and the rest of his class’s morning routine. Each child is assigning a specific spot on the rug. In order to not break the rule, Garrett ordered me to sit in his spot…and then he plopped down in my lap.

As the morning announcements began, I would periodically feel a vibration from his butt. I felt it once or twice, but wasn’t sure what it was. Then it dawned on me. He was farting on me! The first time I realized what was happening, I asked him to stop. He didn’t respond. The second time he did it, I told him to stop again. He didn’t respond. Finally, he farted on me a third time!

Angrily, I looked at Garrett and whispered, “Garrett!! Stop farting on me!” He turned to me and angrily responded. “I’m not farting on you!! It’s your phone!!”

He was right. I had my phone on vibrate and someone was desperately trying to reach me. When it comes to fart or phone, I prefer phone!

wmnThe first year we attended Justin’s school fundraiser, GWE noticed that one of the items up for bid was the opportunity for Justin to host the school’s morning news broadcast. Typically, this was a honor reserved for the 4th and 5th graders. However, thanks to GWE’s ability to outbid and (quite frankly) intimidate anyone who came within 5 feet of the bid sheet, Justin got an early start in the morning news business – Kindergarten! Each and every year since he began attending this school, Justin has appeared on the Woodcrest Morning News.

You may also notice that Garrett makes an appearance as well. He started out as a background prop and worked his way up to co-host of the show with his big brother. And now, thanks to the editing skills of GWE, you can fully enjoy “The Justin-Reads-The-News Montage Show!”

Contract

Here is Garrett reviewing and signing his contract with his school. Once financing (tuition) is in place, he’ll be expecting a executed copy of the agreement from business affairs! That’s my boy!!

"Lord of the Flies"
"Lord of the Flies"
“Lord of the Flies”

What turns bright, well-mannered, and socially extroverted Kindergarten and First Grade children into a swarm of BAT…SHIT…CRAZY maniacs? The answer is simple: “Recess!”

Early last week, Justin asked if I would come to his school for lunch. GWE explained that it was Teacher Appreciation Day and they were looking for parent volunteers to watch the children while the teachers had a private, special lunch. I didn’t have a conflict in my calendar, so I told Justin I would be there.

It was only supposed to be one hour – 12:30pm to 1:30pm. How hard could that be???

I arrived at the school just as the teachers were dropping the children off in the play area. Justin’s teacher waived goodbye…and then quickly disappeared. Three moms and one dad (me) were left to watch over the (what felt like 300-ish, but probably only 50) Kindergarten and First Grade students. I witnessed a formerly docile playground turn into “The Lord of the Flies” meets “Planet of the Apes.” (“Get your hands off of me you damned, dirty children!!!“) These kids were fueled by the sugar rush of the lunches they just ate and the pure adrenaline of recognizing their own freedom, in addition to knowing that there was not a single teacher in sight. If it’s been awhile since you’ve witnessed playground politics and the social hierarchies among children under 10 years old – it’s truly eye-opening!

I was exposed to many things over the course of an hour…

1) I discovered that my son has two girlfriends. They both know about each other and they are not jealous of one another. Sometimes they all play together and sometimes it’s one on one. I actually saw the girls negotiate with each other as to who got Justin and when. (To “Future Justin” – I don’t know how you managed to do this, but I hope you are able to keep this skill! It will be useful in college.)

2) “Name-calling” hurts, at any age. Several children asked me for my “real” name. (To them, I’m “Justin’s Daddy.”) Justin quickly answered on my behalf with, “His name is ‘Super Diaper Head!'” And, then the children began to chant, “You’re name is Super Diaper Head…You’re name is Super Diaper Head!” I stood strong as long as I could. Finally, I cracked…”My name is Jason.” It then became a challenge among the children – “Who would be the first to call a fellow student’s parent by their real name?” One little girl took the challenge. She walked right up to me and said, “Hi Jason!” as if we were old friends. Her friends were in awe.

3) Justin’s best male friend might be an athletic genius. He asked me if I would play “Hand Ball” with another group of children (including Justin.) I told him that I would be happy to, but I didn’t remember the rules. He would have to remind me. This child began to instruct me and his friends on the elaborate rules of a new game he had created that can only be described as “WallBallFallCrawlMaulBrawl, YA’LL!” I shit you not…this game was so interesting that I may have to steal the idea and create my own league for adults. It was THAT good!

4) In an open playground, where nothing is hidden, children will still find a place to hide…thereby scaring the shit out of the adult who is supposed to be supervising them. Justin and some of his friends decided to play “Hide and Seek.” I was unaware that the rules to this game have been updated since I last played. If you are the one hiding, you are now allowed to move locations as long as you are not seen. I did not know this. As I began to rule out certain hiding spots while looking for a little girl, I began to panic because there were not that many places left for her to hide. As it turns out, she “relocated” to a place I had already checked. To lose sight of your own child is scary. To lose sight of someone else’s child will send you into a panic mode like no other. I think she got bored waiting for me to find her because she finally jumped up from behind the trash can and screamed “I’M OVER HERE!!!!” Needless to say, she won!

There were a few hundred more things that I witnessed over the span of that one hour. Somehow, time seemed to slow down. What was supposed to be an hour, felt like a week. Many of the things I witnessed could be written off as “Child’s Play” and some of the things I witnessed will haunt me forever. Regardless, these children are our future and their teachers aren’t making nearly enough money!!!

NewsJustin has decided to follow in the footsteps of those great newscasters who preceded him. Much like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, Justin has taken it upon himself to bring “the truth” to the masses. Here is the truth – there WILL be pizza for lunch today…there WILL be a choice of juice or water…and there WILL be ice cream sold for a dollar. (And as part of his economic editorial, he informed his viewers that for a dollar, the ice cream really was a bargain.)

At the school Justin attends, they have the children do a pre-taped morning announcement show that is broadcast internally and online. For weeks, Justin begged us to inquire about having him host the morning show. Finally, Justin decided to take matters into his own hands and he approached the Principal directly to announce his intentions. She politely informed him that Kindergarteners weren’t allowed to host the show. It is a privilege reserved for the older boys and girls at the school.

However, she did tell us that “Host of the Morning Show” was an item up for bid at the annual silent auction. GWE and I agreed that come hell or high water, we were going to get this for Justin. When the event arrived, I ran interference with Garrett while GWE continued to use offensive and defensive maneuvers to ensure that we would win the bid. Needless to say, Justin got what he wanted…two days of providing the morning announcements to his fellow classmates

Here is Day 1:

Here is Day 2:

Justin was so well received by his classmates, that he was asked back to host THREE MORE TIMES!!

Based on the feedback (and ratings bump), I am currently fielding offers for my son at all the major networks and news outlets. If you need a new morning host (I’m talking to you – Today Show!) who is charismatic and can deliver hard-hitting journalism – you know how to reach me!

Should I be worried that Justin is calling his Project "Sky Net?"
Should I be worried that Justin is calling his Project "Sky Net?"
Should I be worried that Justin is calling his Project “Sky Net?” (It’s a “Terminator” reference. Look it up.)

As my sister accurately assessed, Justin is the son my parents always wanted. Allow me to explain….My father is a Dentist (Science) and my mother is a Dental Hygienist (Science), plus she still does the office accounting (Math). They were blessed with a son who had no scientific aspirations and an amazing inability to add or subtract correctly. (To this day, I can still add 2 plus 2 and get 5.) However, Justin has begun to excel in his science and math studies! Even though he is in Kindergarten, he has begun working on fractions and a few weeks ago he excitedly told me about the molecules he built in science class using marshmallows and pretzel sticks.

In an effort to foster his love of science and math, we signed him up for a Robotics Class on Saturday mornings. This past Saturday was his first class. Together, we walked into the classroom and met one of the instructors. She sat Justin down and began to instruct him on what he would be doing. Each child was given a box of “Brain” parts and “Body” parts. They were told to follow the step-by-step construction directions on the iPad in front of them and then program the “Brain” to control the body. I stood in the corner talking pictures and video. It was very exciting.

As soon as the instructor walked away, Justin mouthed the word “HELP” and motioned for me to come over. I quickly walked over to him and began to “assist” him in the construction of his robot. After a few moments, I looked up and discovered a stern-looking woman in the doorway motioning for me to come and speak with her. I told Justin I would be right back and exited the room.

The woman began to chastise me that I was NOT to help Justin in any way. They were fine with me taking pictures and video, but I was not to interact with my child AT ALL! She continued to tell me in a harsh and fairly inappropriate tone that Justin needed to do this on his own so that they would be able to better assess his ability and learning level. Part of me wanted to say, “I’m paying for this and you can kiss my ass if you think I’m not going to help my kid…WHO JUST ASKED FOR MY HELP?” The other part of me thought that maybe I was being a “Helicopter Parent” (one who continually hovers over his child) and that maybe I should walk away.

So – I can’t really blog about the outcome of this adventure because I was asked to leave. I don’t know how it ended!! GWE was allowed to stay with Justin and see his final product, while I was relegated to sitting in the car in the parking lot with Garrett.

According to GWE, it was amazing and Justin built a robot that drove around in a square.  Here is the video:

I have been asked to leave many classrooms in my academic career. I didn’t realize it would be possible to get kicked out of my kid’s classes as well!!