It used to be I got sent to see the principal all the time. These days, the principal comes to see me.
He comes in for a drink or two in the local watering hole where I’m a regular and I’m always glad to see him. He’s a great guy.
It’s odd because my reaction to seeing the principal always used to be to reflexively turn around, bend over, and tense up my butt cheeks.
I wonder if I am among the last students to receive corporal punishment at a public school. It probably happened six or seven times.
I was a recidivist troublemaker throughout my primary school years. I’d skip class, instigate cafeteria food fights, and could be counted on to wage war against the boredom inherent in the penal aspects of mandatory public education.
I wonder if my darling Lucy will be the same.
I kind of hope so.
Tomorrow is her first day of kindergarden and she’s showing signs she’ll react to compulsory education the same way I did.
Like me, she may cry uncontrollably.
I clearly remember my bewilderment and anguish at being ripped from home and bused into a sprawling mass of runny nosed tots who were all clearly my intellectual inferiors.
Yes, unfounded arrogance even at age 5.
At home, Lucy (given name Lucinda, aka Lulu, Lu) is a ceaseless yapper, more animated than the Cartoon Network. She’s temperamental, her affections as explosive as her tantrums, a real dickens.
Yet in public she becomes a stoic. When people compliment her she stares at her shoes. She freezes around other children, too.
It happened yesterday at the orientation for kindergarten, a German word that literally means “children’s garden.”
By my discerning eye, this one needed some weeding.
There are 21 students, 13 of them exuberant boys whose Ritalin prescriptions seem to have lapsed.
I was there for one hour with them and I felt like racing out for medication.
Teachers are such a popular punching bag by people who resent their benefits and their suntanned summers. Not me.
I don’t know how they do it. School bus drivers, too.
Lucy’s teacher is sweet sunshine. She’s very pretty and looks like she was constructed in a secret lab dedicated to making gentle and enthused teachers who’ll nurture the special needs of each of our precious children.
I’m happy she’ll be there to help shepherd Lucy through the journey where she’ll begin to meet the best and worst totems of all life has to offer.
I’m at once apprehensive and thrilled for my daughter to be tossed into the unholy mix.
Thinking back, it seems like I cried for what must have been two weeks.
I wonder if I needed to go through that to make the rest of it so special.
Because my school days were wonderful. I made so many great friends who helped make laughter a habit.
I didn’t feel the need to cry until I had kids of my own and started watching “Big Fish” every Father’s Day.
And it’s all because of what I learned in school that had nothing to do with what school was intent on teaching me.
I learned to befriend bullies, respect savants and crew around with the cut-ups who turned dreary math classes into devilish fun.
I learned to love being human and to love human beings.
It’s one reason why, even as I tremble for my little angel, I’d never dream of home schooling my children and becoming part of movement that seems dominated by Barack-hating, vaccination-shunning, Darwin-bashing, global-warming doubting, socially backward Troglodytes.
Not to sound judgmental.
So welcome to the world, kid. I hope you give them all hell.
I know you’ve got plenty of that in you.