My oldest son just started second grade at the local elementary school. Yesterday I was describing our typical luck in preparation for the first day of school to one of my fellow painters:
I said, "We've bought him new school clothes already but we haven't found any shoes that we like. He still has two pairs of shoes from last year. One pair is old and ratty but the other shoes are still in good condition so we figured he would be okay until we find some new shoes that we like..."
I continued, "...but our two youngest kids have had some kind of walking flu or something lately. They'll throw up and get diarreah for a couple of days and then they'll be fine for a couple of days and then out of nowhere they'll throw up and get diarreah again and then they'll be fine for a couple of days..."
The painter said, "Dude, you totally just described MY life."
Ew. Anyway, I said, "So we come home late Sunday night and I set our two year old on the couch for a second. My oldest son pops his good shoes off in front of the couch. Then the two year old suddenly leans over the edge of the couch and throws up into both shoes...
...so Ethan had to wear the old ratty shoes on his first day of school...
...but there are a couple of trailer parks in our neighborhood, so I doubt anyone will think anything of it but we really need to find him some new shoes today."
I hate to be hard on teachers because I know a couple of teachers may be reading this site, but I think teachers are aware that parents are judging them harshly. When we took Ethan to school in the morning, they had four different classes line up or cluster around one entryway. We know his teachers name but have no other knowledge aside from that. Four teachers came to collect their classes and there was much confusion. The lady that I assume was Ethan's teacher stood in front of the door and said, "My class, come with me." And then she walked inside. She didn't introduce herself. She didn't give us any idea who might be in her class. She just said those words and walked off. But we saw other kids from Ethan's class following her so we sent him in.
It's not a big deal. But in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Strike one, lady."
And I'm probably polluting Ethan's mind when it comes to school. I keep telling him things like, "If I didn't have to make you go to school, I wouldn't." I tell him that going to school is his responsibility like going to work is my responsibility. Then I ask him if he would rather go to school or stay home and never be a second grader. He told me he wants to finish all the grades so he can be a doctor some day. Or a fry cook.
Last year he got 100%s on almost all of his spelling tests so we started paying him $1 for each test that he aced. This year he has his pet Tiger Salamander, Zonk, and it costs $1 per week to buy the crickets we feed to the amphibian. I told Ethan to tell his new teacher, "If you don't give me 100's on all of my tests my salamander will die!"
Another funny thing about Ethan is that he is already into Heavy Metal. I never tried to teach him that hard rock was the best. Virtually EVERY song that comes on the radio and even most of my CD's are boring to him. We'll be driving in the car and you'll just hear a loud "Booooooooooooring!" float up from the backseat. He only likes stuff like Boston, 3 Days Grace, Megadeth and Linkin Park. If it doesn't have in-your-face guitar shredding then he doesn't like it. I got the new Smashing Pumpkins CD for my birthday and that BARELY got a nod of approval from him. It sounds cool that he likes hard rock but it's difficult to consistently pump out songs with that much energy in them.
After riding in the car with him it's hard for me not to imagine his teacher in front of the class saying, "Okay children, let's all count to 100 by 5's." and then his patent "Boooooooring" comes wafting up from the back of the class and then the teacher sits quietly dreaming of all the ways she's going to mess up his permanent record.
But I told him that his responsibility is to go to school, learn, make friends and have fun. I'll tell you how it goes.