Monday, August 29, 2011

Kindergarten Homework


Katie came home today with a purple folder in her backpack. On the inside left pocket someone wrote "look" with two eyeballs for o's. That side is for notes from the teacher, Katie explained.

On the right side pocket someone wrote "Home". That side had a cut-out school bus, but it was missing a wheel. I stuck my hand in further and found a card with instructions to color and cut out the second wheel and paste it on the bus.

I looked at Katie in amazement and said, "Is this homework?!"

She beamed, twirled on one sock-covered foot, lept over the floor pillow she uses as part of her indoor obstacle course and said, "Yes!" As if I had asked her if it was a birthday cake. Only a freshly bloomed kindergartener would feel so thrilled to get homework.

I didn't get homework in kindergarten. I got thrown up on in circle time by the boy sitting next to me. That was memorable. And I remember accidentally voting for Ford instead of Carter in the 1976 Presidental faux-election at our school. I was so mad when I got home and told my mom, "I voted for Ford!" thinking she'd be proud.

"Oh. I voted for Carter." She said it softly, as if she knew what she was saying would disappoint me. "It's your dad who was going to vote for Ford."

I was so mad at myself! How could I have voted for the one my DAD likes? Ugh. For some reason I had the name Ford stuck in my head and I got mixed up and ruined my first ever pretend civic duty.

I made many mistakes in kindergarten, I'm sure, but they all took place within the confines of the building. I never had homework. Ever.

I swear I don't remember ever getting homework until third grade, and even then I forgot to do it. I came stumbling down the hallway into the living room where my mom was watching "The Tonight Show".

"I forgot. I have homework!" I handed a piece of paper with math questions on it to my mom. She looked through her reading glasses at the paper, up and down like she was inspecting a tax form. Then she looked at the clock, then the TV.

"Here. I'll do it for you. Go back to bed."

I remember not feeling like "Yay, I got out of doing my homework" but "Yay, I have such a nice mom. Now I won't get in trouble at school tomorrow." I knew there was no way my sleepy head could figure out those figures.

Forgetting to do my homework became a recurring theme by high school. I ended up with a 3.4 GPA only because I oddly enjoy taking tests. Ask me what I learned and I'll tell you but don't make me do all that bullshit busywork.

But I couldn't stop smiling today when I saw Katie's first ever homework assignment. And I was so disappointed I didn't get to help her with it. I had to work, and she was in bed by the time I got home, so Will was the lucky one who got to help our girl with this milestone.

I couldn't have cared less about my own homework when I was in school, but now that my baby's getting it, I'm all excited to help her with it. And sometimes fudge and do it for her when she forgets so she can go back to bed, because that's what understanding mamas do.