How to register a 5-year-old for Kindergarten

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March 13-18, 2016
Notice Kindergarten registration is happening. Add reminder to phone to check on 2017 schedule in late February. Congratulate self on organized process and systems.

Feb. 16, 2017 | 7:30 a.m.
Drive past future school. Glance at marquee. Notice Kindergarten registration ends in 32 hours. Have panic attack. Attempt to un-teach future scholar new curse words. Anticipate curse words to surface again only during Kindergarten readiness assessment.

7:38 a.m.
Use smartphone to Google and locate school registration forms. Realize forms must be printed out and completed by hand. All 15 pages. Because 1952 was an especially efficient year for office personnel.

8:06 a.m.
Find list of additional required documentation. Call to confirm that we are applying for public school entrance, not entrance into the US of A.

8:08 a.m.
Call pediatrician’s office to get copy of immunization records. Enter the dreaded first-hour-of-the-morning-everyone-call-the-ped muzak. (Thanks, Flu ’17. You can go now.)

8:13 a.m.
Attempt to find car keys. Fail. Message husband re: meeting to exchange. Decide it will be first and last time I ever use the phrase, “Meet me in the alley.”

8:37 a.m.
Connect with a human being in pediatrician’s office. Request immunization records, this afternoon if possible. Am asked why I wasn’t aware of Kindergarten registration before today. Commence internal screaming.

12:05 p.m.
Begin completing paperwork. (Side note: Explain to me why we’re eliminating handwriting from the school curriculum when all of its paperwork still has to be done by hand. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? #earworm #yourewelcome) Learn that falsifying your address on Kindergarten registration paperwork is a first degree misdemeanor. Finally understand where our justice system jumped the shark.

12:07 p.m.
Student Cell Phone: ___________________ Bahahahahahahahahahahahaha no.

12:08 p.m.
Dude. Daytime phone and cell phone are the same thing. But you would know that if you lived in a universe called 2017. Also? 47% of U.S. households don’t have landlines. So please stop asking for my home phone like you can’t make like Drake and just call me on my cell. #earworm #trackchange #yourestillwelcome It travels with me. That’s why it’s called a mobile phone. Because it’s mobile.

12:10 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 15: Does your child recognize some letters of the alphabet (first name)? … Seriously? That’s our highest expectation of Kindergartners? That sometime in the last 1,825+ days they managed to learn 15% of the alphabet??? Sweet mercy.

12:11 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 18: Does your child hold a book correctly? … I can’t even.

12:12 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 25: Does your child sort objects by attribute (color, size, or shape)? … Damn straight he does. He eats his M&M’s by color the way the universe intended. Want him to show you how to work the labelmaker? #TypeAalltheway #likemotherlikeson

12:13 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 26: Does your child show understanding of general times of day? … Yes, except for: on Christmas Day, on any day when mom is running 21 minutes behind, or every.single.Saturday morning.

12:15 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 35: Name three things you would like your child to be able to do in one year. …
1. Recite the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America (while copies are still available).
2. Participate in clinical trials for medicine that causes five-year-olds to sleep past 6 in the a.m.
3. Successfully place socks inside laundry hamper without them being balled up.

12:15 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 37: Right now I am most concerned about: …
1. Your lack of a comma after “now.”
2. The carpal tunnel in my right hand from filling out 15 pages of repetitive paperwork.
3. Where I’m going to keep the magical leprechaun I’ll need to hire to watch my child during the 1,780 business hours he won’t be at school but the rest of the world still needs me to produce stuff. (Note to self: Ensure leprechaun can teach handwriting.) (Side note: Half-day-only Kindergarten, we in a fight.)

3:26 p.m.
Pick up immunization records on way to work meeting because everyone totes has nothing else to do between the weekday hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. SO WE SHOULD ALL OPERATE UNDER THE EXACT SAME WORKING HOURS SO NOTHING GETS ACCOMPLISHED. Suggest the penalty for picking up a virus in order to complete Kindergarten registration also be a first degree misdemeanor. Spray all the things with hand sanitizer. (Really, Flu ’17. We’re done with you.)

3:36 p.m.
Stop at house. Apologize to confused dog for interrupting Nap #29347. Locate all documents needed for applying for green card Kindergarten. Can’t remember passcode to husband’s super-secure-spy-level-Army briefcase. Throw entire briefcase into trunk.

5:15 p.m.
Pick up children from preschool. Explain impending adventure as “Visiting The Place That Hasn’t Heard About Google Forms Yet.” Ask Siri to tell five-year-old what “bureaucracy” means.

5:43 p.m.
Turn in forms. Intend to take obligatory picture with building sign but forget. Ask Yelp to find closest family-friendly establishment with wine on draft. Ignore husband when he says that’s not a thing.

5:54 p.m.
Call preschool and ask about permanent enrollment. PTA not scary there. Computers from this century there. Complex childcare system not needed for before school/after school/we’re-closed-because-theres-a-snowstorm-in-Kansas days there. DON’T LEEEEEEAVE USSSSSS.

6:12 p.m.
Ask five-year-old if he has any questions. Confirm that, yes, he may get a Minion lunchbox and, no, he will not be driving himself to school. Yet.

Sob. Sob sob sob sob sob.

The End.

Throwback Thursday: That time I made a magazine

throwback thursday magazine Southern short story

I was looking for empty three-ring binders. I found a box of old high school memorabilia. Helpful? Not really. Fun? You bet.

One of the items I unearthed was my first-ever foray into the land of magazine editing, circa 2000. I created an entertainment weekly for my friends strewn far and wide by summer vacation in a time when my email address was titanicfan4@hotmail.com. LYLAS, y’all.

The feature article was a short story I have absolutely no recollection of writing — but it made me smile, nonetheless. Takeaways:

1. I need a nice cool glass of sweet tea and some pound cake, stat.

2. I need Herman’s Hardware Heaven to be a thing.

3. I need a headline-writing bootcamp (still).

4. I need to write more.

Grumpy Old Women

Ms. Harriet owned a shotgun and a poodle, and both could cause fatalities if they had a mind to. Of course, it took the 78th Annual Mason County Fair and Mrs. Margaret Winterbottom to discover this.

*          *          *

Ms. Harriet took her dog, George, and her gun, Gracie, everywhere she went. She would sling Gracie over her shoulder and shove George in an old, worn-out wicker picnic basket, the kind that you see Toto peeking out of in The Wizard of Oz. Ms. Harriet went everywhere like this; to the grocery store; to the movie theater; to choir practice at the House of the Lord, Amen! Church; and even to Bingo night down at the Gray River Senior Citizen’s Center. Ms. Harriet had the longest winning streak ever heard of in the history of Bingo night. (The Senior Citizen’s Center also had more bullet holes in its ceiling than the firing range down at Overton.)

Ms. Harriet lived in the oldest house, too, in Gray River, Alabama, or at least it was the oldest house according to Ms. Harriet. Everyone took her word for it. Her house looked like the pound cake that I dropped on mama’s floor when I was six and a quarter: it was still square, but it was mushed in around the bottom, it leaned slightly to the left, and there were bits and pieces of it lying on the ground next to it. Amidst those bits and pieces of Ms. Harriet’s house was George’s house, a four-room, air-conditioned masterpiece built by Herman himself down at Herman’s Hardware Heaven. When he delivered it, he told Ms. Harriet that it was his greatest accomplishment. 

Everyone in Gray River knew about Ms. Harriet and her slight temper; everyone except Ms. Margaret Winterbottom. Ms. Margaret had moved to Gray River the first of July, back when it was too hot to notice anything but the steam rising out of the bean fields. She was short and plump and reminded me of a picture I had seen of Mrs. Claus in one of my Christmas books. She had moved to Gray River after old Walter Winterbottom, her brother, passed away, leaving her his entire estate, including his Purple Martin bird farm in the backyard.

*          *          *

By the time that the colorful trucks and vans belonging to the 78th Annual Mason County Fair pulled into town, Ms. Harriet and Ms. Margaret had become fast friends, much to everyone’s surprise. Half the community thought it was just what Ms. Harriet needed, that she had obviously been lonely for too long; the other half waited to see what Ms. Harriet wanted from Ms. Margaret. Little Tommy Benton down the road told me it was her liver.

One morning after church, my mama was talking to the two women when she said, “Why Harriet, what a lovely necklace! I believe you have one just like it, don’t you, Margaret?”

Well, Ms. Margaret looked kind of sick then, and just nodded and rushed off to start her rhubarb pie for the fair.

“What was that all about, I wonder?” mama said as she guided me towards the parking lot.

(Continued in next week’s issue!)

That’s right; it’s a cliffhanger. Shazam! I certainly don’t remember having the foresight to create reader demand by leaving everyone hanging, waiting for Part 2. Including myself, nearly 15 years later — because in that big box of junk, I can’t seem to find the magazine’s next issue. (It’s quite possible the editor jumped ship before it went to print :).)

Good ending, anyone?

If I go looking for the second installment, I already know what I’ll find: that stack of binders.

In case you missed it

I’ve been counting down until the end of September, when I thought life would slow down a bit. Then I looked at my October calendar. And then my November calendar. And then it’s the holidays, so at this rate, it looks like things will calm down…around Martin Luther King Day. Alrighty then.

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Now, procrastination isn’t the answer, but a little down time never hurt. Here are some things I found on the Interwebs when I was hiding from my to-do list.

  • You need to make THIS chicken bacon ranch pasta from Chef in Training, now. Seriously. Hubby and I were tempted to eat half the pan in one sitting, and it’s easy enough to throw together on a weeknight. It warms over well, too.
  • THIS story from my husband’s hometown about one family’s attempt to cope with their grief through random acts of kindness after the sudden loss of their 18-year-old daughter gives me a little more faith in humanity. While there are lots of “pay it forward” stories out there, the speed and intentionality of this movement is noteable. Count your blessings, and be a blessing to someone else, today.
  • BooMama’s post about packing travails had me in tears (and not just because I just had a similar whirlwind packing experience last week). And the part about the new iOS 7 alarm sounds? True that, my friend.
  • These aren’t new, but if you haven’t seen these brilliant marketing videos from my friends in higher education at BGSU and BYU, do it. Because external communications: they’re doing it right. Also, grab a Kleenex and watch this student-produced gem. This is why we tell stories.
  • I’m intrigued by new social media sites for neighbors to interact more, like Nextdoor.com and Porch.com — but is anyone using them? Any tips for how to get your neighborhood to start using them — or use them to get to know each other better without just knocking on their door and asking them to friend you, all stalker-like?

A healthy dose of humor

My company offers free health risk assessments where you can get a basic once-over for things like blood pressure and cholesterol, along with a flu shot. As part of the process, you’re asked to fill out a pre-appointment questionnaire about your current health conditions.

It’s a good thing they restricted answers to drop-down menus, and didn’t include open text boxes. Because my immediate thoughts? Weren’t exactly predetermined answers.

For your it’s-almost-Friday entertainment:

Are you “very likely,” “likely,” or “not at all likely” to fall asleep in the following situations:

  1. While reading. That depends. What time of day is it? Am I reading a cookbook, or an email, or the latest Jen Lancaster? Do I have a blanket?
  2. While riding as a passenger in a car for more than an hour. Guilty as charged. You know those parents who swear the car’s vibration puts their distressed infant to sleep when nothing else will? I think there are some adults who fall into that category.
  3. While in a crowded public place. Is this a thing? Wait — what happens if you fall asleep while reading, but you’re in a public place?? I don’t know how to handle question overlap!
  4. While talking to someone. Um, I’d be rude. Next.
  5. While sitting quietly at your desk after a lunch with no alcohol. Seeing as how Don Draper’s the only one I know who can get away with liquid lunches, I can’t speak to this exercise. But if you need volunteers to test the theory, sign me up.
  6. While lying down for an afternoon nap. What is this “nap” you speak of? ‘Cause in my house, naptime is when the small child sleeps and I engage in an Amazing Race-style frenzy of seeing how many household chores I can accomplish in an hour and a half. Sometimes I even take a shower.

Have any of the following statements applied to you in the last seven days?

I found it hard to wind down. I work full-time, volunteer, take care of my house, husband, dog, child, and myself, try to maintain family relationships and friendships…So yes, sometimes I am a bit keyed up when I fly into bed at, on a good night, 11 p.m. I also like to talk. A lot. Which tends to prevent “winding down.” This is supposed to be a sign of a health concern?

I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all. Quite regularly, around 6 a.m. every weekday. Symptoms markedly better following two cups of coffee, with cream; symptoms nonexistent on holidays.

I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things. Quite frequently. A partial list: cleaning toilets, clipping my one-year-old’s nails, organizing the hot mess of sheets, towels, lotions, cosmetics and first aid items that is my linen closet, visiting the post office.

I tended to over-react to situations. Did it involve a spider or a squirrel? Then, yes, I did. And don’t even think about suggesting I attend one of those therapy sessions that involves sitting in a room with the offending object and having someone keep moving it closer to me until I’m comfortable with it.

I was worried about situations in which I might make a fool of myself. You mean, like earlier this week, when I stopped by my car in the work parking lot to drop off some bags on my way to a meeting, and promptly forgot I was holding my employee ID, dropped it, and heard it bounce underneath my car, causing me to get down on all fours, in my dress clothes, and wildly scrape at it with a three-ring binder while my rear end, in all its middle-of-the-day-sunshine glory, faced the parking lot entrance, which kept filling with a steady stream of cars? Does that count?

I found myself getting agitated. Pretty much every time I get an email where the entire message is typed into the subject line IN ALL CAPS.

I was unable to become enthusiastic about anything. False. I was very enthusiastic about the chardonnay sitting in my fridge.

I felt that I was rather touchy. This survey was crafted by a bunch of men, wasn’t it?

I felt scared without any good reason. Um, have you watched the news lately? There’s always something about a car catching fire over here and a salmonella outbreak in brocciflower over there and some guy who was struck by lightning for the third time while he walked his dog. It’s enough to make anyone go all Little House on the Prairie; at least if half the country had a cholera epidemic, you didn’t hear about it on a 15-minute loop with annoying business jingles in between.

I felt that life was meaningless. What happens if you check “yes” to all of these? Does the computer actually stop the registration process and instruct you to seek professional help immediately? Because it probably should.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Breaking the ice

Whew! It’s been a busy couple of weeks in our world. Meetings, work commitments, out-of-town family visitors and a room move-up for little man. This week, it’s the toddler room; next week, college. Or so it feels.

I hosted a first-ever student intern retreat for our team of 20-plus student employees, and in planning, I knew I wanted to start with an icebreaker. There are thousands of ideas out there for icebreakers, but I knew I needed one that: would be easy and low-key enough so the anti-mandatory fun crowd wouldn’t be too opposed; was accessible for all abilities, since we have a student who uses a wheelchair; wouldn’t take up a lot of time, since we had a mid-sized crowd; and met the primary goal, which was introducing everyone to each other by name and some sort of interesting information.

Even though I planned for several weeks, the perfect icebreaker eluded me. Until about 8 p.m. the night before, when I came across the “Penny for your Thoughts” idea. All you’ll need is a dish of pennies from different manufactured years — decide whether you want only years your group members were alive, or if you want any and all years. Then, give each participant a penny. Go around the group and have everyone say one thing that they did, that they remember, that happened to them, etc. from that year. So, for example: “My penny is from 2002, the year I received my first car. She was blue with orange flames and I called her Bertha.” (Actually, my first car was a 1990 Ford Escort hatchback that topped out at 65 mph and whose antenna bent sideways whenever you hit the left turn signal. RIP, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) Anywho.

Super easy, quick, low-key, and meets the goal. People can be as chatty or creative with their answers as they want, or be short and sweet — either way, it lets their personality shine through and you know each other better.

And, be really nice, and let them keep the penny ;).

 

New (school) Year’s Blessing

Working in education, August has always felt more like the start of a new year to me than January. The weather’s gorgeous and, even though administration works year-round, we still feel refreshed after a summer of fewer events and less campus traffic. Below is an excerpt from our faculty and staff start-of-the-year prayer service, which I share for all of us starting on journeys this month. Cheers to a great year ahead!

Teach us the wisdom of generosity — the simple kindness to make room in our lives for new friends, new colleagues, new students, new teachers; and give us the extravagant simplicity to know we need them as much as they need us.

Make us perceptive enough to recognize the loneliness around or within us, strong enough to name it, and gentle enough to ease it. And grant us the generosity of intellect — to inhabit our doubts long enough to befriend and follow them; to listen to those with whom we disagree long enough to learn from them.

Teach us the wisdom of humor and humility — the freedom to take ourselves lightly, to laugh, and the courage to live slowly and simply as though our worth did not finally depend on our work, because it does not.

May we remember that life is brief. Let our kindness be swift and our perspective broad.

Holy Wisdom, be planted deep within us and scattered wide among us, so that when the snows have come and thawed and the mud runs dry, and the light stretches again to its full length, may we be found at the far end of this new year flowering with humanity, mercy, friendship, and wisdom.

Amen.

—Kerry Maloney