I attended the round-up with my mom. Beal City. We visited the high school gymnasium where several partitions–lightweight, mobile wall-segments–dissected the basketball court into a series of ad hoc rooms. The figure of a badly painted pegasus spread across the wall. Home of the Aggies. And then we meandered from room-divided to room-divided, making small talk as I sweated through a battery of skills tests, typical Cold War skills tests as I recall: do a summersault, comb for lice, write your name. I was four-and-three-quarters: I don’t know what else. Maybe a short windsprint, chin-ups, balance on one leg, the other leg, marshal a few beads on an abacus, express something patriotic, and how are your teeth.>
I don’t remember anyone being surprised when I was admitted to kindergarten. But I was admitted. Completed it in 1980: 79-80, a year spent tracing anthropomorphic letters (“Q”ueen), bantering at the sand table, and watching for chocolate milk to show up in the chest cooler in our classroom. And that’s the last experience I had with grade K. No more chest coolers in the classroom after that.
Ph. had already completed kindergarten by the summer of 1997 when our family, also unanticipated parenthood, sprung up out of the blue. Moved to Kansas City and within a few weeks enrolled him in first grade. The records of his kindergarten year were sketchy–whatever assembled in an untabbed hanging file folder my mom kept. And also kind of didn’t keep. Record-keeping never was anywhere listed among her most admirable qualities (although the rest of the list was so much!). Ph.’s kindergarten year was, for us, undocumented. It had happened; that much was certain. But in another way it wasn’t anything we’d experienced directly, except through the ramshackle contents of that hanging file folder.
Later today I will drive Is. to one of the schools where she might attend kindergarten in the fall. We’ll meet D. there, walk around, make open-house-style small talk, and, who knows?, suffer Is. through a battery of post-Cold War fitness testing. She’s ready with the summersaults and name-writing. Lice-free and more. Better prepared, I am sure, than I was. Still, I am nervous for her, nervous because it has been a long time since I have given kindergarten much thought. Nervous, if “nervous” is the right word, because it’s not entirely clear where we want to enroll her. Or what this “open house” is all about these days. Or whether there will be abacuses.
Added (2:30 p.m.): I had a chance to Skypetalk with Ph. this afternoon, as much to question his kindergartenal memory as to test out the free demo version of Skype Call Recorder, which I am thinking about purchasing and using for a project far at the back of my mind. There are a number of settings to tinker with in time, but the recording process was promisingly easy, and the side-by-side presentation of two callers and the .mov output makes this seem to me like a bargain at $19.95. As for the kindergarten question: