My fine motor skills get a work out daily, and once a month, I get to demonstrate my mad talent to Andy's teacher. I volunteer in his classroom, where I cut, glue, collate, print, separate, et cetera. When I first volunteered, I wasn't sure what tasks would await me. "Perhaps I'll get to teach a lesson! I think I remember a little about geometry. Side, angle, side. Angle, side, angle. Those are things, right?" Of course, I did not get to teach geometry that day, which is for the best since I forgot my protractor. I ripped out and separated Chapter Three and Chapter Four in the math books. Full disclosure, some of the pages got a little mangled. If your child is in Andy's class and they have a tenuous grasp on patterns due to some missing information, that's totally my bad.
Of course, I don't care what I do when I volunteer. I could be cleaning out the ventilation system. I'm really there to observe, to be the proverbial fly on the wall or mom in the tiny chair. I love volunteering at school and watching Andy's class in action. I love getting to see Andy In School- such a kinder, more obedient version than Andy At Home or Andy At A Party Getting Cake.
By now, I've volunteered a handful of times. For the most part, the feelings that I get watching Andy and his class are warm and fuzzy, like a teddy bear fresh from the dryer. See how this child is learning! How he correctly chooses a word that begins with the letter "P!" He's a genius. I'm just so proud.
But there have been two instances during my periods of observation, I mean volunteering, that have made my heart clench. Under the instruction to partner up, I watched in horror as Andy scrambled each time to find a friend. From my vantage point, the other kids all seemed to already have unspoken agreements as to whom their partner would be. They had best friends, standing arrangements, legal obligations of some kind. But I watched, each time, as Andy ran around trying to find someone who didn't have a partner, getting pushed off and rebuffed, albeit politely and innocently, until he finally found someone to be with.
Oh my God, I thought each time. Andy doesn't have any friends. No one likes him. This is just awful. So close I was each time to throwing aside my ripped out workbook pages and shouting, "Andy! I'LL BE YOUR PARTNER!" Or, "You damn fools! Andy would make a perfect partner, generous and thoughtful. You are all missing out!" Or simply snatching him up, swaddling him in a makeshift blanket fashioned from the tiny coats and snowpants of those insensitive dolts, and bringing him home to attempt to rock and bottle feed him.
|Does anybody else notice the ODD number |
of children in this group? One kid is on his own.
Of course, he's just five, he's totally fine, and he did get a partner each time. But, still.
At parent teacher conferences, I brought that up as my concern. Does Andy have friends? Does he have other children willing to be his partner? DO YOU THINK MY SON IS LIKABLE? And the teacher gave this look of disbelief and confusion, a reassuring head shake that is likely well-rehearsed in her twenty years of pacifying crazy, overprotective parents. "The other kids love Andy. Sometimes they FIGHT over who gets to be his partner!" And I almost replied, "Well, you don't have to lay it on so thick, lady."
So, every month I happily and a little nervously head into my volunteering hoping to see my son thriving socially and academically and socially. But mostly socially. I have perhaps too much faith in my son's brain power. But I want him to have friends and be happy and know how to handle bullies and always have a partner when needed. This is an important part of schooling, too. Sure, we can work on our fine motor skills until we're blue in the face, but these skills are meaningless unless you have a friend to scissor or video game or build legos with. Meaningless.
Until you volunteer in your kids' kindergarten. And then, your maternal glare as you fine motor your way through workbook pages and math crafts shall maybe, hopefully remind the class. Be kind to my son, as I am the one holding these very, very sharp scissors. Not that I would actually hurt a child. But still. The threat is there.
Once a month.