Why do you have to come into the school, Dada?
I don’t really know, but that’s what they asked the parents to do.
You don’t have to, that was just for the kindergarten kids.
You’ll be in First grade now, you’ll be in school all day now not just two and a half hours a day, maybe the teacher wants to tell the parents something about the school day.
No, you should just drop me off and not come in.
It’ll be OK, we’ll both go into the school cafeteria, wait for the teacher to gather everyone together at 9:00, you’ll go to class, I’ll go home and then I’ll pick you up at 3:30.
He was still not convinced. He had been to this school already, this was the same school that he went to Kindergarten last year for two and a half hours a day, why would anything be different ?
We drove up to the school, walked across the street and entered the school. Directly across from the front door is the cafeteria. It’s usually easy to see all the way from the front door, across the main corridor, all the way back to the far end of the cafeteria, but not today. Today the entry way was filled with parents, children, teachers, and a variety of school administrators, and we couldn’t see much further than a few feet ahead. Some of the teachers were handing out pieces of paper to parents, some were just giving directions, and there was a lot of milling around by a lot of parents and children who didn’t seem to know where to go.
As we entered the main corridor, Mr. C grabbed my hand, looked up at me and he suddenly looked very nervous.
We made our way through the crowd into the cafeteria where a teacher asked which teacher we were assigned to. She then directed us to the general area where the kids in that class should wait for teacher to gather up the kids in their class for the start of the school day, which was still about fifteen minutes away.
We sat together at one of the cafeteria tables with his backpack and a bag of school supplies in front of us, surrounded by other kids and parents either sitting around the table or standing nearby. As the room filled up, the noise level from all of the conversations grew louder and louder. It wasn’t clear though where the noise was coming from since there were few people around us who were talking. Most looked a little nervous, parents tried to make reassuring comments to their children who fidgeted on the seats or sat quietly. Across the table from us was a woman with her little boy, it was clear that she was trying her best to not cry, at least not until after she left the school anyway.
Mr. C sat next to me, still holding my hand. The minutes went by and it did seem as though Mr. C was right. As it got closer to 9:00am, it did seem as though neither the teacher nor the principal were going to give any specific instructions to the parents. We sat together and waited, Mr. C sat quietly, looking around every few minutes trying to see if there were any kids he recognized from Kindergarten who would be in his class, pointing out anyone who he did recognize.
Do you think I should leave now? I asked.
Mr. C sometimes likes to give hugs that we call ‘Head pop off hugs’. This is a hug where he grabs you and hugs so hard around your neck that it seems as though you are either going to pass out or your head is going to pop off. He started one of these hugs just then, just about jumping onto my lap, holding tight around my neck.
I want you to stay until the teacher comes in, he said.
I turn around in my seat and look over towards the woman across from me, she looked over at me and it was then that she burst into tears.
He was still hugging as the school bell rang and the teacher asked the kids to line up.
He finally let go and gathered up his backpack and went over to growing line of kids waiting for teacher to take them to class.
Now you can go home, Dada, he said.