The Always Awkward Meet and Greet

Today is a big day, at 12:30, second son got on the bus that took him to his first day of kindergarten. He was very excited, which is good, considering the awkward and anti-climatic open house we endured, yesterday.

In our school district, kindergartners start a day later than the rest of the students. Instead of going to school, they have a short open house so that the kindergartners can meet their teacher and see where they sit.  I thought this was a fantastic idea, especially since I spaced out last year and completely forgot kindergarten orientation.

I knew the minute that I walked into the classroom, and saw a smattering of mothers standing awkwardly behind their progeny, who were sitting just as uncomfortably, in their small desks, water bottles and napkin squares spread out before them, that I was wrong.

We were greeted by the teacher, whom I have never met, but seemed nice enough.  She exchanged a few friendly words with my son and then suggested he find his desk.  That took all of two seconds.  He sat down and had no idea what to do next.

Second son really likes direction.  I had none to give him. The poor kid couldn’t even concentrate on his snack, since the aide kept missing the fact that his napkin was empty. So, he concentrated on his water.  I’ve never seen someone sip water so zealously.

The parents were at as much of a loss as their children were.  No one seemed to know what to do or what to say to each other.  It was all so very awkward.

My saving grace (for the first time ever), I sort of knew one person, thus proving that staying in the same district for four years, has, at last, had one benefit.  We exchanged some pleasantries and I told her that after passing the other classroom, where clearly there was a presentation going on for the parents, I was nervous that I was late.  She assured me I had missed nothing.  I then asked her what we were supposed to be doing, to which she quietly answered, this was pretty much it.

Furthering my status as the most popular person in the room, was that I also knew the aide.  It’s kind of sad when vaguely knowing two people in a room makes you the most popular one, but after being an outsider for so long, I’ll take it.  And while I chatted amicably with her, answering the question I get so often, “Weren’t you going to move?” neither my son, nor I, ever heard from his teacher again.  She busied herself around the room, doing nothing, seemingly as out of place as the rest of us.

I should be used to this by now, having had my share of awkward moments at my childrens’ schools, from class parties, to back to school nights, where it seems that I am forever floating in a sea of unfamiliar faces and teachers, who check out the moment parents step in the room. But still, it never gets easier.

And to be honest, as a former teacher, I have been that teacher, who checked out and faded into the background, uneasy making small talk with the parent whose child loved to give me hell, or the parent of the overeager beaver, who was still not happy with their child’s work.

Never again.

If I ever go back to teaching, I will make sure to take my experience as a parent in the classroom, back with me.  I now know, only too well, that parents often feel just as out of place and awkward, sometimes even more so than their children do, when thrown into an unfamiliar situation in which they are either forced to make small talk with strangers or stand uncomfortably alone.

But, like I said, it didn’t damper second son’s feelings towards his big day. When he heard that bus round the corner, he was so excited that he could hardly contain himself.He was so happy that he even agreed to pose with her.What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall today.  

Peace out, people!

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