Thursday, August 19 2021

visiting kindergarten and shopping for school supplies

page banner

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. Today I'm riding the high of being off-call as well as the even bigger, more thrilling high of not having any meetings today. Today feels like a great to day to catch up on email, quietly crank through some tickets, and recklessly drink my way to the bottom of this coffee pot. Here's to simple workdays and impending weekends.

The house feels quiet this morning, and looking ahead there may not be many of these mornings left. Marissa and I have concluded that once kindergarten starts, we have to pretty much rearrange everything in order to get Rodney to school by 7:40 each day.

Alex, did you say school starts at 7:40? I did. Most of the schools in our area start that early. The city's website explains the decision to start so early with a very loaded FAQ page - something to do with wanting to save money with bus routes. That's the other weird thing about Madison - there is no school bus system. The kids are expected to buy regular old bus passes and ride the same bus line I used to take every day when I worked downtown. While reading up on it, Marissa and I developed a running joke about how ruthless the city of Madison is with making less work for themselves.

"To avoid the need to run extra bus lines, we ask that your children carpool with other adults that work in the area."

"To avoid the need to run extra bus lines, we ask that you just send your children to EPIC employee onboarding instead of school."

"In the interest of saving money, we ask that your children drive their own truck fitted with a plow so they can pave the snow on a portion of the beltline for other commuters."

Not that busses really factor into our plans this year anyway. We would be a five minute drive from Rodney's preschool if the adjacent street wasn't closed for construction. I want to believe that the construction will be wrapped up by the time school starts, but it would also be very Madison if it continued indefinitely through the winter.

School starting at 7:40. That's borderline an act of terrorism.

Sip. So how are you feeling today? How did your Wednesday go? In case you can't tell, Kindergarten was a big theme of our Wednesday. Straightaway after work, I joined Rodney and Marissa in front of our cramped bathroom sink to get ready for our first school tour.

Technically, only Rodney would be getting a tour. With COVID on the rise again, the school has put in strict rules around masking, distancing, and limiting bodies in the building. As soon as we arrived, Rodney followed one of the Kindergarten teachers into the building to catch up with a group of kids. He said goodbye and took off running, disappearing into the quaint building with all the faith and trust of a five year old boy. Just like that, he was gone.


"I wish we could see his classroom," sighed Marissa. "Would it be crazy to... hand Rodney my phone and let him take pictures?"

"We could attach a GoPro to his head," I laughed.

"Or what if we followed him with a drone," added Marissa.

The two of us realized we accidentally invented a newer, more dystopian meaning to the term helicopter parent. "The drone parent," laughed Marissa.

Rodney tells us that once he was inside, the kids looked at classrooms. They checked out the desks and the lockers. They sat on the floor and listened to a reading of the book King of School. "I don't liked dragons and pincesses," clarified Rodney.

Meanwhile, Marissa and I pushed Miles around on the playground, mingling with some of the parents and teachers. Marissa grabbed another member of the faculty for some questions.

"This might be a dumb question, but where do the kids eat lunch? Can he heat something up if he needs to?" she asked.

"They just eat in their classrooms," replied the teacher. "So... don't send him with soup. Unless he enjoys eating cold soup."

I teased Marissa about the interaction later. "Excuse me - if I send my son with, say, pork satay, where can he leave the sharp metal skewers when he's done? And if he wants s'mores for dessert, is there an open fire somewhere where he can toast the mashmallows?

The building doors flung open. Rodney came bounding outside with a gaggle of other kids. They all ran around the group of parents staight to the sprawling playground. Rodney gave us a sweaty wave and thew himself onto the rope jungle gym.


Based on what we saw, I think Rodey will be just fine. Marissa and I watched him chat and play with the other kids. He had so much fun on the playground, we practically had to pry him away when it was time to get dinner. "You'll get to play here every day", we repeated. "It's not going anywhere."

After dinner, we leisurely wandered through Target as a family. Marissa read through the list on her phone while Rodney and I picked through the leftovers arranged in the school supplies department.


"OK, one folder," said Marissa. "You're choices are..." Her head scanned the shelf. "Solid colors... and a Space Jam 2 folder. Dude, there used to be way more choices for this stuff when I was little, you are really getting the shaft here."

We filled the cart with crayons, pencils, markers, and notebooks. We hesitated over the last remaining Ryan's World backpack. "It comes with slime!" Rodney exclaimed. "And a toy!"

Marissa and I exchanged a worried look. "That's a lot of extras for only twenty bucks - if we know anything about the Ryan's World line of merchendise, that twenty bucks is gettting spread awfully thin."

"We'll order you a new Miles Morales backpack online," smiled Marissa. "We can pick it out together." Rodney was satisfied.

Hot on the heels of Kindergarten. Things move fast, don't they? Thanks for stopping by today - have a great Thursday everyone.