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It Is Technically the First Day of School
Kid’s first Zoom of the year is configured
So, I wrote this edition thinking that today was the first day of school and immediately sat down with Kina to enjoy her first fifteen-minute class of the year, only to find that the first class of the year was just an opportunity to say hello to all the teachers. Next week is the first day of school. My bad. This is fine, of course—I’m pleased to have little orientation sessions for a school year that seems so strange. I was actually impressed with how much thought the teachers had put into the experience: sign language to help kids interact without talking over each other, moments that felt like group sharing (even if all the kids were muted), and as much of the gentle care that you could hope from from a preschool teacher forced to teach their class at a distance. It was bittersweet and absurd, but it was preschool (which is bittersweet and absurd even on a good day).
In fact, I’m glad today was just a meet-and-greet moment, because I was in such denial about this being the first day of school for her that I feel like we didn’t get the ceremony of a first day. I want to dress her up special for her first day. I need to take a picture! With her backpack! I want to tell her how proud I am of her, and how big she’s gotten. The thing about this remote school thing that is most disorienting is the absence (or unfamiliarity) of the ritual. When I used to drop Kina off in the Before Times, I’d put her backpack in the cubby, take her over to the board where she could move her name from Home to School, then kneel in front of her and ask for:
a high five
a fist bump
a big hug
I don’t think I was ever so happy in my life as when I’d walk out of that classroom after the big hug, and I’m trying to figure out how to build that goodbye moment into a school year where neither of us ever leaves the house.
The other thing that’s annoying me about all this relates to socialization, and incidentally to Happy Meals. I’ve been talking about preschool a lot lately in terms of Happy Meals, and what matters about them. When you go to McDonald’s to buy a Happy Meal for your kid, you’re not hung up on whether to get a cheeseburger or nuggets—whether it’s a juice or a milk day. The cheeseburger and the milk are incidental, a sideshow for the toy, which is the entire point of the thing. The Happy Meal is only about the box and the toy. The thing that feels so backwards about remote school is that it only solves for the cheeseburger (the education and structure) but not for the toy (socializing with other kids) or the box (the specialness of a preschool classroom). I don’t care about the cheeseburger here; I just want my kid to have a toy—to learn from other kids, to speak their language, and to figure out what it means to share space with other human beings. The thing that I have felt most crippled by in my work is the clumsiness of shared virtual space; it’s something you have to be good at, and we’re just… not. So when I sat this morning in front of the iPad with Kina, all I could think about were the kids whose faces weren’t flashing on screen while the teacher played the xylophone (as good and loving as she was). I just wish she could play.
Archivist Locates Missing Shard of First Edition
I found it, hidden behind a bunch of other papers on the fridge. I intend to leave it pasted there, as Kina clearly intended.