The Gort returned to the classroom yesterday after a two-month hiatus. I’m not going to lie; I was grateful for the return to routine…structure….and, most importantly, separating my boy-children for a few hours each day.
For his second-grade debut, the Gort selected a pale yellow t-shirt with a drawing of skeletal hands embracing a skateboard. If he didn’t have such a benign face, I might have worried it would perhaps send the wrong ‘message’ to his new teacher(s). Still, I questioned my own judgement – buying that shirt without even being asked.
Early in the morning, the Gort ran into my room, with his clothes tucked under his arm. He’d already made his bed, he told me, while I tried to pry open my eyes. He proceeded to get dressed and we headed downstairs for breakfast – everyone else still asleep.
It was in marked contrast to the previous year, when we all got up and dressed, fawning over our oldest blond wonder’s first day as a full-time student. This time, we drove to school – just the two of us. We pulled up to the curb, nearly half a mile away from the building. [Apparently everyone and their grandmother had driven to school on this particular occasion.] We walked behind a family of three, whose father was videotaping his daughter’s ‘procession to school’. I felt a twinge of guilt at the hastily arranged photo I’d taken of the second-grader at our house; his yellow shirt invisible underneath his grey jacket.
There was a sea of people and cardboard signs on the asphalt compound outside the building. The Gort approached his new teacher and shyly shook his hand. And I stepped back, waiting for them to disappear into the building.
Six and a half hours later, we picked up our cherub. ‘How was your day?’ we crowed enthusiastically. ‘Well, we didn’t really do very much work,’ he mused. Seemingly disappointed by the lack of rigor on his first day. He spoke of lunch and recess, of his classmates, and a new boy named David. ‘I like that name, David,’ the professor approved, ‘you should be his friend; people named David are usually nice guys…well except for David Koresh.’ I stopped for a moment to think of all the people I knew named David. True, they were nice guys – all of them.
The Gort showed us his brand-new agenda for the year. He’d written ‘Grade 2 is great’ as his note for the day in exceedingly neat penmanship. ‘And how did you spell great,’ I asked – still in editing mode. ‘Did you spell it g-r-a-t-e,’ I tried to trick him. ‘No, I actually spelled it g-r-e-a-t,’ he relieved my fears of having birthed a bad speller.
Later that evening, when I returned home from catching up with a friend, I found the enthusiast lying on top of his duvet. Wearing a pale blue shirt and grey pants.
‘What happened to your oldest,’ I asked the professor. ‘What, because he’s wearing clothes?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well, he told me if he slept in his clothes, on top of his covers – then he would be dressed and his bed already made, in the morning. He would eliminate two steps for getting ready. Were you late today or something?’
‘No,’ I defended myself and I imagined approaching the Gort’s new teacher saying ‘if it looks like he slept in his clothes, it’s because…he did.’