Lately I’ve been roaming the halls of kindergarten. Actually I roamed only the first day; now I know which turn to take for classroom, library, cafeteria or office. I didn’t return for remedial reasons, I am simply blessed with the opportunity to take my 6 year old grandson to school each day. My other grands live out of town, but now I’ve got a regular gig and I like it.
It’s been 25 years since my kids were in elementary, 50+ since I sat in those tiny chairs, but some things haven’t changed.
Kindergarten teachers are still young, sweet, nice, organized, nurturing. Except for the one battleax in the bunch, an older woman whose no-nonsense demeanor would probably serve 5th grade boys better.
Announcements still sound the same over the loud speaker, school bell still rings at start and end of day, and I am delighted to find that they still recite the pledge each morning. Crossing guards with bright colored neon vests still direct car and pedestrian traffic. The playground is still out back of the school, this one with lots of shade trees.
Coach is still young, handsome, friendly and athletic looking. The Principal still bears the responsibility of students, teachers, administrative staff, and balancing parent concerns with school board requirements – a job this one handles with grace and tact.
The library is still the most inviting, wonderful place. All the children’s classics plus new ones to explore; an area set aside for story time; so many stuffed characters I feel like I’m at home in my grandkids room. The librarian has the sparkling eyes and fun personality to compliment this great room. She knows all of her readers, of course, and wants them to love books. Library books still have to be returned on time and still need to be shelved.
The office is staffed with friendly, efficient young ladies who know their stuff. Grandparents are especially welcomed and promptly given a visitor badge. Parents returning their child to school after an absence are given the appropriate paperwork to sign, placed neatly on a clipboard with attached pen. Kids sent to the office for attitude on the bus are firmly instructed to wait on the bench while everyone else gets tended to first. Time to ponder the offense while awaiting consequences.
There are some differences, like nowadays breakfast is available each day. A help for parents who work outside the home. And computers. What a difference that is from decades ago – no file cabinets or paper folders, just a few clicks on the keyboard get you where you need to go. The biggest difference is the need for security. The building is locked until while classes are in session. To gain admittance during the day I must use the call button and identify myself. A sad reflection on our society – even schools in a safe neighborhood wear the threat of danger from random souls who must be so without hope they can only think to commit violence against innocents.
For me there aren’t any smells associated with elementary school; it’s not like a nursing home or hospital or a musty attic. It’s the familiar sights that trigger memories – classroom doors decorated with posters and cotton balls and craft sticks and tissue paper. Color, lots of color – student art on the walls and strung across the hallways highlighting the talents and creativity of this particular group of future adults. Even the building is familiar, the color and style of brick on the outside, series of hallways lined with classrooms on the inside. The cafeteria is set up the same too – food lines at the back, stage up front with long tables and connected chairs in between. I wonder if the food tastes the same.
I tell Liam goodbye and exit the building, using the crosswalk to get to my car parked on a shady side street. My grandson is learning to love learning and is surrounded by people who care. Dedicated teachers unaware of what surrounds them, a grandmother’s prayers of gratitude to God for their efforts. Kinder Halls for me are great – I breeze in and out of class, and no homework! The best.
Kim Robinson is an author living in Austin, TX. She and her husband have six children and fourteen grandchildren and enjoy spending time with family. Passionate about parenting, she writes and speaks about a variety of issues facing parents and professionals dealing with teenagers in crisis. She enjoys speaking at retreats and to various organizations.
Kim's debut novel, Chased by Grace - A Story of Survival, is available now.