As the parent of a preschooler, I have started receiving homework assignments.
We’re not yet at the point where I’m sitting at the kitchen table, desperately trying to re-learn math I haven’t used in 20 years. That is – I hope – still a few years off. However, our most recent “assignments” have felt more like “chores.”
Assignment #1: Bring in a plain T-shirt for a school art project.
Ok, simple enough. Except the school newsletter said it MUST NOT be 100 percent cotton. And then on the next line, it said it MUST be 100 percent cotton. Naturally a little confused, I asked Ryan’s teacher for clarification. She also had no clue, so she asked another teacher who said it MUST be 100 percent cotton.
So like the good little involved parent that I am, I immediately ran off to Wal-Mart to purchase a $4 white cotton T-shirt, promptly ripped the tag off and wrote “RYAN” in giant block letters on the inside.
As I put the cap back on the permanent marker, my phone rang. It was Ryan’s teacher telling me she was mistaken – it MUST NOT be 100 percent cotton lest whatever they’re putting on the T-shirt fade or fall off or something.
To which I very nearly said, “Look, it doesn’t matter. Let’s be real – whatever he’s making? He’s gonna wear it once and then it’s going to the back of the closet forever.”
But like I said, I’m a good little involved parent, so I clenched my jaw shut and drove 15 minutes to the nearest Old Navy to purchase an $8 half-cotton, half-polyester blend shirt. (You pay extra for the luxurious polyester, you know. Ooh-la-la.)
Assignment #2: Teach Ryan his street address.
When Ryan’s teacher mentioned he would be learning his street address, I beamed. How cute, I thought. This is why preschool is awesome, I thought. Yay for learning!, I thought.
Then she corrected herself – I needed to teach it to him at home. And he wouldn’t earn a sticker or the super special certificate at school until he could remember – and recite to the whole class – his house number and street name.
To which I very nearly said, “I’m sorry but all my spare time is being spent driving all over town looking for a shirt that is exactly 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester. I couldn’t possibly fit this in.”
But hey, I’m INVOLVED, so I decided to give it a go.
It started out well. He loooooooved learning the name of his street. He memorized that the first time I mentioned it to him and grins when he shouts it out.
The house number, on the other hand, is NOT welcomed information. In fact, every time I open my mouth to say anything related to that number, he freaks.the.hell.out.
Me: Ryan, look at the big numbers on our door! This means—
Ryan: STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT NUMBERS!
Me: It’s so cool, though, look! Oooonnnneeeee—
Ryan: STOP IT! RIGHT NOW!
I know some people take preschool very seriously. America is behind other first world countries in academics and we need to catch up and etc, etc, pressure, pressure. But we put Ryan into a three-year-old preschool program for one reason: to help him learn how to follow rules and behave in a classroom setting.
In my opinion, that is a big enough task for right now. If the stupid T-shirt falls apart in my washing machine or Ryan can’t recite his address until – gasp! – age four, we will survive.
In fact, some kids only go to preschool for one year. Most likely, Ryan will go for three years, thanks to a late September birthday and a desire on the part of his parents that he be the oldest child in his kindergarten class rather than the youngest.
That means I’ve got a two-year buffer to figure out the very best places to buy tiny T-shirts and master the very best methods for teaching my kid things he has no desire to learn.