On the eve of school . . .

. . . both for us and for the 5-yr-old. We’re unready for the start of classes on campus, but the boy’s pretty excited about the start of kindergarten tomorrow. In part, this is the unfortunate effect of a name change: His school now calls itself the Holmes Elementary School for Science and Technology, and so the poor kid thinks that they’re going to be starting off in the lab building robots and mixing chemicals.

We had out-of-town guests over the weekend, and upon their departure discovered a voice mail from the school that said, “Great news! A spot has opened up in All-Day Kindergarten, and [the boy] is at the top of the waiting list. I’d like to talk to you about it, but, you know what? I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t prefer All-Day Kindergarten to Half-Day, so I’ll just switch him. His new teacher is . . . his new classroom is . . . .”

I can’t think of a single reason, other than a desire to have free daycare (which I recognize is nontrivial), why someone would prefer to send a 5-year-old to school all day. As I understand it, there’s no additional content to the all-day classes: after the half-day kids are gone, there’s basically lunch, nap, recess, plus dealing with all the discipline issues that arise from asking 5-yr-olds to concentrate all day. So we were pretty mad.

But, on a whim, I called the school today, on the premise that, since we’re always on campus right before the start of school, maybe someone would be there . . . And a school official picked up the phone! Because so many parents have been angrily demanding that their child get free daycare All-Day Kindergarten, our refusal opened up a spot for one of them. Problem solved!

I was feeling good about things again, and was getting ready to hang up the phone, when I made a little joke about the Dattco Bus Company’s magic, time-traveling buses.   We then had the following exchange:

School Official: What time’s he supposed to get home?

Me: 11.39.

S. O.: Oh, that’s ok–school gets out at 11.35.

Me: Um, the letter that went to parents says 11.45. I have it here in my hand.

S. O.: I need to double-check again — I’m actually not sure what time school gets out.  We’ve changed it a few times.

On the one hand, I appreciate candor, and I myself frequently get confused about classes that start or end at weird times.  (My evening classes often begin at 6.50, which I’ve never quite adapted to.) At the same time, it is . . . odd to try to feel sanguine about dropping off the boy at a place where, the day before, they’re still not sure what time things end.

Fingers crossed!

(If you’re want something to read besides this mini-drama around kindergarten and over-obsessive helicopter-parents-in-training, try this interview I did with Richard K. Morgan.  I’ll be posting “deleted scenes” from the interview later in the month.)

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