Teacher: Genevieve is a pip! I love her. She’s pragmatic. She’s an asset to this classroom.
Cassie: How so?
Teacher: It’s obvious she has older siblings because when one of her class mates has a fit about something minor, she tells them to get over it.
Cassie: That sounds tough.
Teacher: (smiling) Yea. She’s a little tough. Don’t get me wrong, she’s kind, but she tells it like it is. She’s a firecracker. Comes back with these zingers. Nothing overwhelms her. Like, she’s seen it all before. She helps to keep any small moment of hysteria from, you know, getting blown out of proportion.
Cassie: So she appears to have some “street smarts.”
Cassie: What about book smarts? Is she on par with her reading and math and all that?
Teacher: She’s getting there.
Cassie: Uh oh. That sounds like–
Teacher: It’s kindergarten…there’s no “uh-oh”…she’s doing well. It’s kindergarten.
Cassie: Right. How about the indecision regarding use of left hand/right hand?
Teacher: I’ve observed her numerous times…asked her to hand me this thing or that….it’s always with her right hand. From what I can tell, her first inclination is to use the right hand. I haven’t noticed much switching to the left.
Cassie: Her writing seems messy. Extremely so.
Teacher: Yes. Well, I could say the same for most everyone in the class. Again, it’s kindergarten and we’re only three and a half months in.
Teacher: When I’ve modeled a letter, a word, a sentence, most of the children print beautifully, but when they are on their own, to do their creative writing pieces, for example (pushing some papers toward me), this is a lot of what I see.
Cassie: Dear God! What is that word? (I point to a mish-mash of B-K-L on the paper before me.)
Teacher: Yes. There’s the B and K, another B and L.
Cassie: How do you get Basketball from that?
Teacher: I’ve been doing this for a while. It definitely says basketball. Look, she drew a picture of a basketball in the illustration here.
Cassie: Oh. I see. (I think.)
Teacher: She is a leader in the class and can certainly hold her own with her fellow class mates.
Cassie: There’s a gaggle of girls she talks about a lot.
Teacher: A gaggle…yes. I have to separate them from time to time. A lot of talking going on there.
Cassie: Oh no.
Teacher: I want them to venture out of their comfort zones…work with other students.
Cassie: I want that too.
Teacher: Let me clarify, Gigi has no problem venturing out, but she has become the comfort zone for others. And the talking…when they are supposed to be quiet or listening… can be problematic.
Cassie: That sounds like Charlie.
Teacher: I’ve told her that she should probably stop using the phrase, “Dang it.”
Cassie: Oh dear God.
Teacher: (giggling slightly) She’s got the whole class saying it.
Cassie: I’ve told her before that it’s not okay to say that. I’ll have another talk with her ASAP.
Teacher: Yes. Good, Maybe, together, we can stop that one in its tracks. Like I said, she’s influential in the classroom.
Teacher: All in all, we’re good here. Genevieve has an incredible sense of humor. She makes me laugh.
Cassie: Sense of humor?
Cassie: That sounds like Charlie too. Yikes.
Teacher: I’ve never taught Charlie, but (laughing) I’ve certainly heard about him.
Cassie: (sarcastically) A legend.
Teacher: (more laughing) He’s a legend alright. (Pause) Gigi’s having a very successful year in Kindergarten so far. No problems here.
Cassie: Great. Thanks, teacher.
(I leave the elementary school in a daze. While I know, of course, that Genevieve is her own person, some of my long-held suspicions about her overall personality have been confirmed at this first official parent-teacher conference. What I suspect we have here, in my youngest child of four, is a little girl version of Charlie The Kid. The talking, the humor, the crowd of fellow-student fans…..Suddenly, I am very tired.
And grateful. Grateful for the quiet grace of my two oldest children, who have each found their learning paths and successes over the years with what seems like a lot less fanfare…and definitely a lot less noise. My memories of Max and Chloe’s early school years bring visions of quiet, calm waters with only the slightest of ripples shifting a glassy surface.
Visions of my future with the “Youngers,” on the other hand, paint a very different picture. There are streaks of bright flashes and color. Firecrackers explode loudly in a black night sky. To be honest, I’m a little afraid of the loud pops and bright flashing lights. My future with Charlie and Genevieve – these noisy and energetic learners – appears far too explosive. I’m sure to be singed by the fiery hot firecracker embers trailing each loud fire burst.
I’d like to take a long winter’s nap and avoid fireworks. I’d like calm waters with only an occasional ripple to peacefully lull me to sleep. I’m so drowsy.
But there’s no time to rest. The Youngers are already in 5th grade and Kindergarten. As I walk along the brick walkway leading me away from the front door of the elementary school, I tell myself that, instead, I must embrace these pending fireworks wholeheartedly. Open my eyes. Uncover my ears. Before me is the once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the explosive noise…the piercing lights…without fear, but rather joy. The best fireworks display of my life. Wake up!)