We rushed home from our weekend visiting with Stephen’s family to attend open house at Eli’s school.
I expected the school to look like the elementary school I attended: one very long hallway with second grade at the end nearest the offices and stretching to fifth grade at the far end, and Kindergarten, first grade, and sixth grade outside the building in trailers for reasons I never quite understood.
I started Kindergarten in a trailer near the cafeteria. It had dark paneling (I did start school in the 70s) and the bathroom was in a separate building. I remember this very clearly because every day at nap time, I cried so hard I had to go to the bathroom to pull myself together. I don’t know now why I cried. I enjoyed the other kids and getting to go to one of the first grade rooms for reading. It’s true I didn’t get along with my teacher but that doesn’t seem like the reason in retrospect.
I carried all of those memories with me into Eli’s classroom. His is bright with giant windows. There’s a rug at the front of the room near the white board. There are more books in his classroom than in the children’s department of the public library behind our house, maybe more than is in the whole library. There’s a pretend kitchen and a corner that looks like a shrunken mad-scientist lab. The teacher’s desk is a low table. She has three lamps at different locations; it looks as if you could curl up and spend the day reading if you needed to take a break. Like the mom in Tom Goes to Kindergarten, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to want to continue going to Kindergarten after the first day.
In those first few moments as I was taking in the place where Eli will have his first formal educational experiences, I have to admit I teared up a little. Because without even knowing I wanted it, I know just from looking around that room and meeting his teacher that he’s going to have better memories than I do. It makes the transition a little easier for me to bear.