Countdown

Rowan starts junior kindergarten tomorrow. We’re mostly ready. We’ve got the backpack, the lunch box, the indoor shoes, the haircut, the vaccinations. We’ve read library books with Rowan about the first day of school. We even made an appointment with the teacher to discuss the fact that Rowan Has Two Mommies (she was cool, had a kid with two dads last year). Weirder probably to her in Thunder Bay is the fact that he’s Jewish, but, no problem, more or less. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t do much for Christmas. Just the tree, and stories about Santa.” (I am now committed to showing up on major — and likely some minor — Jewish holidays with some activity for the kids.)

Rowan’s teacher also told us that the first thing she does is teach the kids how to line up. Which kind of seems terrible, as though the entire purpose of elementary school and beyond is about corralling unruly children and making them conform to society’s rules and expectations.

But — and perhaps I am exposing myself for the tyrannical parent that I am here — really, although we hate to admit it, doesn’t that make up a good chunk of the parenting we do at home? It’s just that we would never admit that it’s one of our primary activities — and, with only two instead of a dozen or two children to deal with, we don’t have to state our intentions as baldly.

Still, it’s those kinds of statements that get me fantasizing momentarily about just skipping the whole school thing — until I realize that I’m just not cut out for homeschooling. Which means I don’t want to. In any case, I know lots of homeschooled kids — and their parents seem to want them to know how to line up, take turns, speak politely to other people, and share, too.

So, we’re mostly ready. Except for how we’re not. In the last two days, two different parents on two different occasions have told us, “It’s a terrible day. A terrible, terrible day.” One of them paused for a moment. “Terrible.”

I have a sneaking suspicion they may be correct. Not because I’m paranoid (no, really), but because when we took Rowan to Winnipeg Beach Day Camp in July, he melted down in a fit of tears and screaming and kicking every single day when we left. And then, when we picked him up, he said over and over, “I don’t want to go to camp. I don’t like it when you leave me.”

With that in mind, we’ve been talking a lot about school. And, slowly, we’ve been hearing less about how Rowan doesn’t want to go, how he wants us to stay, and more about circle time and painting and toys and snack. So I’m hopeful, or slightly less unhopeful.

But I’m also prepared for all hell to break loose tomorrow.

And, not prepared at all.