Today was Michael's first day of kindergarten. Unofficially. (I say it's not official until I can put him on the bus and send him off by himself, which happens tomorrow). He is so excited. He has been waiting for this moment ever since he used to stand at our 19th floor windows overlooking 23rd Street and ask me how many more days it would be until it was his turn to ride a school bus.
I can't believe he's so grown up. And I can't believe that "growing up" means I have to fill out so many unnecessary and repetitive forms. The good news is that Michael's school is going green so he shouldn't be bringing home loads of paperwork for me to sign. The bad news is that "going green" means "parents need to print out all of said paperwork at home."
So, I've been printing out forms and answering ridiculous questions. Starting with: "What kind of experience would you like your child to have in school?"
Does the fact that I'm really tempted to write, "I'd like it to be sort of like Hogwarts, with magic and invisibility cloaks and stuff" make me a bad mother? Because I'll be honest, if Michael could learn how to apparate, that would be really helpful.
Seriously, could there be a more inane question? Every single parent is going to write, "I'd like my child to have a good experience." Sure, there might be a slight variation on the phrasing as some parents will say "good" and others might say "great" or "fun", but it's all the same. Everyone wants their child to like going to school. Asking for answers to obvious questions does not enlighten anyone.
And there must be something in the air regarding ridiculous questions, since I picked up the phone as I was making dinner and got stuck taking a "short" survey about healthcare in Utah that caused me to burn the rice. I could have hung up, of course, but I have sympathy for telephone surveyors ever since I was one my freshman year of college. (The most exciting thing that ever happened to me at that job was quitting).
So, I agreed to do the survey, even when it got tedious because she had to read full questions even if I knew the answer right away, like "Are you Asian, African-American, White, Pacific Islander, Native American, three-fifths Norwegian or part unicorn?" and I was like, "I could have told you I was white 45 minutes ago."
But, I answered her questions, even the one where she made me think back to the first person who ever told me that women of childbearing age should take folic acid, and then asked me what month and year that was. Then she asked if I knew whether folic acid was supposed to prevent heart attacks or birth defects and I said I was hoping it would prevent all future phone surveys.
By the time I hung up and remade the rice, it was 7:00. So we had a late dinner and then I sent the kids outside to ride scooters while I did the dishes. I meant to put them to bed at 8, but with the evening being so beautiful and them being so happy, I put them to bed at 9:00, whereupon Michael had a massive meltdown about Dad still being at work. "I want my Dad! Why does he have to work so much?" he wailed through curtains of tears.
"It could be worse, Michael," I said. "He could be doing telephone surveys."