Small Hands in the Big World

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Kindergartners On The Bus Go What?!

Kindergarten is in full swing and William still loves it. He doesn’t wake at dawn to get dressed and drag me to the bus stop any more (now I’m scrambling to get him and Sara out the door in time) but he is still very happy about going every day. He even loves the crazy bus ride, packed with all elementary grades in the morning then full of the entire two classes of half-day Kindergartners on the way home.

Momma, however, has not been feeling the love for the bus. After hearing William’s wild bus-ride stories of kids playing keep-away with his coat (he actually thought this was a fun game), someone removing his shoe (he found this totally hilarious), a “silly” hand slapping game between seats (yet even more delightful for my 5-year-old boy), and a kid blocking his way from getting out of his seat at his stop (OK, this he didn’t like), I was getting nervous. We had a serious discussion about keeping our hands to ourselves, “but Mom, we’re just play fighting,” and saying “Stop” in a loud voice when someone is doing something you don’t like. “But Mom, we aren’t supposed to be loud on the bus,” he argued as if he was the most meticulous rule-follower aboard (yeah, nice try Will-I-Am, but I know you better than that).  
Here is courageous Knight William, protecting himself from the frightening Super Sara (Momma knows that "play fighting" is a favorite pastime)

Anyhow, I was really concerned there was complete bus anarchy and feeling a little desperate (but not sure how) to change it other than talking to William and going over the rules repeatedly. Much to my surprise, the next day there was an aide on board helping to maintain the peace. In a voice loud enough for all the students to hear, the bus driver told me “students will sit in seats by themselves and this adult will stay until the behavior on this bus changes and everyone is following the rules.”  Phew! Big sigh of relief.
Watching William navigate new friendships and observing rules (or not, yikes) from the sidelines is a new experience. I’ve always been in the thick of every interaction at preschool but now that he's away part of every weekday, I have to trust that he has ability and desire to listen, learn, and follow instructions.

This excerpt from the famous Robert Fulghum book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten” comes to mind: All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder.
  • Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
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