I have a confession.
While I am anxious as I continue The Great Kindergarten Search, deep down I truly believe it is all going to work out. And if it doesn’t, we will adjust or we will make a change, like Mac Daddy and I have always done throughout our marriage. I’m also aware that we could send our littles to the best school in the universe, but they could get a teacher that maybe they don’t mesh with and have a terrible experience. Or they could go to a terrible school, but have that one special teacher that makes an impact and changes their lives forever. D-Bop and Cookie’s lives are on a path, and that path is whatever it is.
So what’s all the drama REALLY about when it comes to making this decision? I mean, if LAUSD was truly a mess, we would move…but secretly I find it kind of awesome that if you figure out the system, your child can have an incredible experience. They can choose to (or at least apply to) go to a specialty magnet school to pursue a passion, such as journalism or science or performing arts. It’s the good and bad of living in a major city—you deal with the crap like the traffic but you can drive across town to see a show fresh off Broadway.
So again, I ask—what’s all the drama REALLY about?
Mac Daddy is away at a bachelor party this weekend, which gave me some time to reflect with my littles today. And we had a super good, very great, totally awesome day! It should have been crap: we had to get an oil change at the car dealership and then I had no car and two kids for three hours. So we walked to the mall and had an adventure. We then picked up the car and Cookie decided not to take a nap all afternoon. So we created more adventures. The odds were against me and it should have been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but it was one of those days in motherhood where the stars align and you realize how grateful and lucky you are and you can feel time slowing down and you
sit run in the beautiful moments that unfold before you.
I was present as we played dress up with outfits that made no sense. I was present as we decided to hunt each other with toy guns (which used to be much to my dismay, but I’m just going with it to encourage the imaginative play). I was present as we put down said guns to make radars and dynamite and more guns out of Duplos. I was present while I cooked and watched Cookie entertain herself with a water bottle and its cap…and some pots and pans… and a few rocks. For twenty minutes.
And I realized this is where the drama lies.
Kids are pretty remarkable. Their little brains are sponges and they willingly soak it all in. They are overflowing with creativity and a love for life. They want to play ALL THE TIME and they only sleep when they are forced to… and then they wake up each morning and jump out of bed with a smile on their face, ready to do it all again.
And at some point, that gets lost.
Going back to feeling nostalgic for my son’s last year before he begins kindergarten, I think all the drama about my exciting love affair with LAUSD ❤ is because when D-Bop begins kindergarten, it’s the end of an era. There will be no more school where “play” is a major lesson plan in his day; there will be a lot of learning how to control his “inner child” that wants to jump out of his desk and run 15 laps around the room; there will be moments of competition where he and his peers will feel pressured and will choose to stop helping each other; there will be a lot of “talking” and a lot less “doing”.
Don’t get me wrong—I realize that if our society functioned like a bunch of kids we would be a hot mess with paint in our hair and lots of discussions about poop. I also realize the importance of a good education, and the blessing that it is. I always loved going to school. I still love to learn and research new things. I would still be in school if it was free and I didn’t have to pay any bills and baby-sitters were also free. I was THAT STUDENT who loved to sit and listen and read more about it later and take a test to show that I got it.
But I also realize that the five years I pursued an acting career certainly taught me more about myself than ever before. I was exposed to new worlds and a new way of thinking. I rediscovered my inner child that wasn’t (as) afraid to make mistakes and look like an idiot in front of a large group of strangers.
I also realize that motherhood has been another form of eye-opening, soul-searching education. I’ve learned the importance of a community, thanks to our Mommy Group that lasted EVERY WEEK for three years. I’ve learned the regularity of failing HARD and having to brush it off and dive in again without thinking. I’ve learned what forgiveness looks like from my son on the days I lose my temper. I’ve learned that children are much smarter than we give them credit for.
I know education is complicated and is always hurting financially and I certainly know that I am in no way an expert, but I wish there was a way to hold on to our children’s inner essence a bit longer and welcome it, encourage it, and trust it to create something bigger. The other day, D-Bop was watching Peppa the Pig on his iPad in Spanish. D-Bop does not speak or understand Spanish. I asked if he would like me to find an episode in English and he responded, “No, this is better because this way I have to figure out what they are trying to say.” He made something that appeared to be boring to me an interactive, engaging, and challenging activity. Because that’s what kids do.
And therein lies the drama, of preparing to let my child literally go into the school system, and preparing to watch his inner child figuratively disappear into the school system. I’m glad I still have almost a year to prepare.
And in the meantime, I’ll still be sure to point out the absurdities of The Great Kindergarten Search. A little laughter will be good for me.