Maggie started school in January. I know school starts in August around here, but I didn't feel like sending her then, so I didn't. Someone asked if I could even do that, just go ahead and pick a time and month for school to begin and I said, well I did it and no one stopped me, so yes, I can. Around here we kind of do what we want regarding the kids and really, everything else. We do this so that in fifty years parents the world over can look at our family and see what not to do. We consider it our public service to all future generations.
Maggie started school on the Thursday after Christmas break ended. Greg and I brought her in together. (The rest of the family begged to come in as well, but I refused to let them as I worried it may create a Hee Haw effect.) We hoped to meet her teacher, but she was absent. One of the other kindergarten teachers came to greet us and she looked at me and immediately recognized me as the parent of one Anthony Hacic. I laughed and said oh yes, there's no denying it, that lad is all mine!
Greg then took it upon himself to give this teacher some random information about our daughter. He mentioned that Maggie is almost always barefoot so getting her to put shoes on this morning was a huge struggle. She's never been to any kind of school and her very best friend is an 80 year man from West Virginia, and oh, she doesn't really like to go to bed before eleven PM. I couldn't make him stop talking by staring intently at him, so I finally talked over him until I was drowning out the sound of his voice and the teacher was forced to listen to me talk about the fact that we've done some school at home, and Maggie was so excited and eager to be here and she does wear shoes more often than my husband was making it seem, she wears shoes at least once a week for sure when we go to church. We left. I didn't cry. I felt happy knowing that we hadn't met the real teacher. I knew if I could get in there without Greg I could make a good impression and not make Maggie sound like a mountain goat.
I went to school the next day and again, the teacher was absent. I wanted to say, couldn't the teacher have gotten sick on vacation? I mean I was showered and dressed and wearing make up two days in a row now hoping to meet this woman and the chances of me being able to pull this off a third time seemed unlikely, but I left and put the whole thing out of my mind. Finally, on Monday morning I was able to meet her. She seemed nice and I made no mention of Maggie's aversion to shoes or her 80 year old best friend from West Virginia. She told me Maggie would be fine and not to worry about anything.
Every morning I drove Maggie to school and every afternoon I went to pick her up. She was always excited to tell me about her day but she always started by telling me she had some worksheets to finish because she hadn't finished them in school like all the other kids. I said, are you sad that you are the only one bringing work home and she said, NOPE! After this happened several days in a row, I wondered if maybe I should go ahead and ask the teacher if Maggie was the only child not finishing her worksheets. I sent a note in. A few days passed and I heard from the teacher, who said, yes, please feel free to come in, so that's what I did. This made four days in one month that I had showered and dressed, and put make up on, and done my hair, and worn something other than yoga pants, all before 8 AM. No matter what the teacher would tell me about Maggie I was proud of myself. School was turning out to be good for me.
I got to the class and sat down in one of those tiny chairs and waited to hear what the teacher would say. She said, "Maggie knows everything she needs to know. She is really cute and kind to the other kids. But she is slow. Not as in mentally slow, as in, she does what she wants at her own pace and doesn't seem to be at all bothered by the fact that she is slow. I tried to get her to work faster by bribing her with rewards, but she just looked up at me and told me she didn't feel like doing these worksheets because they are boring and instead why doesn't she just go and play in the centers. ( here the teacher laughed as though this was funny and not annoying. A good sign) Maggie talks about centers a lot. She puts her pencil down and wanders over to the centers and when I direct her back to her seat she says, very politely, those are boring, I think I should do centers instead. And when she does agree to do a worksheet she is slow." So I said, "hum, is she confused?" And she said, "no, she is not confused, she just doesn't seem to see the need to hurry and she really doesn't like the worksheets."
So then I had to do it. I had to tell the teacher about Maggie's 80 year old best friend from West Virginia. I had to tell her how Maggie gets up and walks over to Jack's house in her bare feet and goes into the chicken coop with Jack and they take several minutes to gather the eggs and then they go into Jack's kitchen and Maggie washes her hands and gets the bacon out and they separate it and fry it up and scramble some eggs or sometimes they boil them and yes, boiling takes some time, but these two have nothing but time. Sometime around two hours after they've started breakfast they are ready to sit down and eat and that takes about two more hours. I'm really sorry about this. I think Maggie would probably be perfectly suited for West Virginia mountain life, but I could see how her ease at letting everything happen at its own pace was probably not too much fun for the teacher and I would be willing to do whatever I could to make things easier for both her and Maggie.
The teacher seemed to be amused by Maggie and her best friend and said, well, I have to tell you she isn't even the slowest child here. There's a group of them who are quite relaxed, and I said, so they are special like Maggie and she laughed and said, yes, I think someday I'll stick them at a table together and see what happens. I said I thought that would be a terrific idea, could I come and document it. We agreed that we were both okay with Maggie only doing one worksheet and not the five that the rest of the class was doing. She felt confident that in a few weeks Maggie would be fine and doing everything on time and there was nothing to worry about. Sure enough, today Maggie she got into the car and said she finished all her worksheets and when I opened her backpack to make sure she was telling the truth this time, she was. Success!
Next time I'll tell you about Valentine's Day and Maggie's attempt to steal the fancy chocolate I bought for her teacher.