We’re talking pink dress, sparkling pink headband, a pink backpack with a terribly cute picture of a puppy on the back and sandals with large pink diamonds. All totaled and translated, Jellybean was ready for her first day at “Big Girl School,” aka kindergarten.
The responsibility of setting the tone for the morning fell to me … and Shania Twain. After all how can a little girl have a bad day after rolling up in the parking lot singing, “Man, I feel like a woman (hoo!)” — which is just what Jellybean did.
With a spring in her step and a liberating woman’s anthem in her heart, she crossed the threshold into a madness the likes of which she’d never witnessed: a mob of parents tugging children wearing the same mixture of shock and awe that must have crossed the faces of the Romans just before being crushed by the seas Moses had so politely parted.
With all the parents lugging plastic bags stuffed with school supplies it felt like 4 a.m. at Walmart on Black Friday when plasma TVs are on sale for $9. The chaos and annoyance levels are about the same — the only difference was the number of people dressed for work rather than a week’s worth of binge-watching “Rosanne.”
But we blended in … or rather dove in.
Jellybean was excited, if slightly terrified. She held My Lovely Wife’s hand trying to take it all in. I noticed they were falling farther and farther behind as we made our way through the school’s labyrinth — only rather than a Minotaur waiting to devour hapless knights, there was a smiling principal guiding hapless parents with soothing voice and reassuring hand gestures. I had to fight the urge to ask for a hug.
When we found her classroom we were greeted by the very young and enthusiastic Mrs. Faulkner. It takes a special person to teach kindergarten, and Mrs. Faulkner looks like she’s got the right stuff.
It was a weirdly sad moment that caught me off guard. Just last week Jellybean was taking her first steps and now here she was walking into kindergarten. I totally would’ve cried — were I not too cool.
After a few hugs, about half a dozen iPhone photos and a few Taylor Swift-heart kisses, we left her there in her seat, coloring. There were no tears — we saved ours for the parking lot.
Then you spend the whole day wondering: Are they scared? Are they making friends? Are they behind the other kids? Are they getting bullied? Is Mrs. Faulkner as kind as she looks? Did Jellybean start singing “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” in the middle of story time?
So the school day ends, and I rush to pick Jellybean up, peppering her with questions. She’s quiet at first, so I press.
“Seriously, how was your day?”
“I forgot,” is all she can muster before adding, “We did have corndogs.”
The biggest day of her young life and what does she cling to the most? The deep-fried wieners they served at lunch? Come to think of it, corndogs are pretty awesome.
Wonder if the next 13 years will be so uneventful...
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.