Thursday, September 07, 2006

School Daze

The kiddo and I are going to kindergarten together, I think. Honestly, I feel like I'm in school, learning new rules, becoming familiar with a new place, meeting people and making friends, and trying not to exclude someone inadvertently. The other day, four of us moms gathered by the playground fence to chat and watch our kids as they played at early recess. Later, I went for a drink (soda! hello!) with one mom. We chatted for a couple of hours, and at the end, somehow we got into a conversation on homosexuality. Well, she's a Christian and is "against" homosexuality, and although I was raised Catholic, I have a more liberal outlook on all this (I'm more concerned about people being loving with each other in general, regardless, and don't even get me started about kids who commit suicide because they feel unloved and like they can't talk about their sexual orientation, because I am all about kids' feelings and I will get on my soapbox and never get down), so that all went over "like a fart in church," as the expression goes. Oh well. I like her, and I guess we'll just be staying off certain subjects unless I'm in the mood for a debate.

I had to laugh afterward, because I was reminded of the sitcom, "The New Adventures of Old Christine," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whom I love. Monday's episode had Christine going back to her "activist roots," trying to achieve racial diversity at her son's school by sponsoring an African-American family who were applying for admission. She thought she was being all liberal, and assumed the African-American family was liberal as well. She succeeded at getting them into the school, then chatted with them later over dinner and discovered they were major homophobes. Specifically, she asked the father why they were transferring out of their prior school, and he said, "It was a nice school, but there were way too many fags," to which his wife replied, "Amen!" Later, trying to somehow assuage her guilt over "bringing hatred" to her son's school, Christine sponsors a gay couple, and later finds out they're anti-Semites. Ah, lots to think about here.

Oh, I met the mother of the kid who seems to get in trouble all the time, and with whom the kiddo had a thumb fight last week. The school uses a green-yellow-orange-red way of gaging behavior, with little green strips of paper representing the best behavior (following directions, being helpful, etc.) and red representing the most troublesome behavior. ("The teacher has to CALL YOUR PARENTS if you get a red strip!" says my son.) The other boy apparently gets red strips more often than not, and my son is way too interested in keeping tabs on this boy's behavior than I'm comfortable with, mainly because I don't want him to have the idea that it's his job to tattle on the other kid to me every day. I'd rather that he tend to his own behavior and be loving toward the other kid, and not take joy in the other kid's misfortunes.

Anyway, the kiddo was playing in the school yard while the moms were chatting, and when he came over to the fence to ask, "How's your talk with the moms going, Mommy?" I told him, "This is J.'s mother," to which he replied, "Oh! J. is a BAD BOY and a TROUBLEMAKER." The kid's mom looked a bit pained, and like she already knew this about her son, and I was mortified and just wanted to hug her. I apologized and felt genuinely bad, especially since just last week, my son had somehow kicked a girl in the ankle while I'd been trying to meet with the art volunteers, and I'd felt awful for bringing the tornado into the room. (Isn't everyone in this position at one time or another? Tell me it's so.) I said something to J.'s mom about "that little boy energy they all seem to have" and we talked for a bit. Her four other kids are all over 18 (the oldest is 30), and she's separated from her youngest's dad, and I think she and I should get to know each other better. I like her already.

I know I must sound like a dork, talking about all this, but this is like finding water in the desert. I've lived here for three years and spent way too much time by myself (largely due to my solitary work), with little bursts of a social life here and there. Now that the kiddo is in school, it's so freakin' great to meet people every single day. I've signed up to generally volunteer in the kiddo's class, and am signing up to be an art docent at least once a month. Tonight is back-to-school night, and I'm sure there will be other volunteer opportunities mentioned there, too. Good stuff.