I never imagined myself becoming a volunteer in my daughter’s classroom. I’m a divorced, working mother, and volunteering during the workday seemed like a much better fit for a stay-at-home mom. Yet somehow it happened anyway.
Perhaps I was caught up in the celebrity that is the Kindergarten Volunteer. At this age, kids love having parents come to school. From what I’ve heard, these days are numbered, so I decided to seize the moment and volunteer once a month.
On my debut in the classroom, my daughter tried to convince me to wear a Cinderella ball gown and a tiara to class so she could show me off to her friends. Alas, no ball gowns to be found in my closet. But she did select the most sparkly sweater and jewelry I own, and she demanded I wear shoes with super high heels. Her efforts paid off, because all her friends complimented my outfit and jewelry. She was thrilled, and tried to sign me up to volunteer again the very next day.
For me, volunteering has been quite the eye-opening experience. Most of us remember elementary school through rose-colored glasses, so the realities of how our children actually spend their day can be quite shocking. Already, in the kindergarten classroom, I observed every single stereotypical high school kid in development.
My daughter is unfortunately one of the little fashionistas, planning a new “look” every week to show her friends and constantly changing her mind about what clothes are cool enough to wear to school. But fashion is no longer only for the girls. One boy wears a blue blazer with his jeans to Kindergarten. Cutest thing ever.
It took all of five minutes for me to spot the fashionistas, the mean girl, the athletic tomboys, the jocks, the super-hero-fanatic boys, the quiet super-sensitive guy who I can already picture serenading girls with a guitar, the slacker boy who attracts dirt like a magnet, and of course the hyperactive kid who is required to sit on his hands at all times to keep himself out of trouble.
But my favorite, by far, are the book-geeks-to-be, who remind me so much of myself as a kid. They can’t even read yet, and already their love of stories shines through. These would be the kids practically sitting in the teacher’s lap at story time, both to better see the pictures and to protect themselves. Ah, those were the days.
My most shocking observation: the social rules of surviving high school are already in play in the kindergarten classroom. I quickly identified the three mini-bullies when I busted them having imaginary sword fights in line for the boys bathroom. True, at this age the trouble is much simpler than what the high school guys will come up with, but it plays out exactly the same.
The moment the teacher added “sexy” to the bad word list, one of these boys started singing “Hey Sexy Lady” at my daughter every time he thought the teacher was out of ear shot. Seriously, that kid has to be related to the jerk who used to harass girls from the back seat of my school bus growing up.
And in the first semester of Kindergarten, the poor principal already had to go on a manhunt for the boy who peed all over the bathroom for fun. He sat the boys all down, threatened punishment for all if no one spoke up, and they all stared at their shoes. Every one of them had to know which one of the three mini-bullies did it, yet they all took their punishment rather than speak up. We live in a society that establishes the Code of Silence by Kindergarten. Wow!