Saturday, September 04, 2010


Yesterday was kind of a big day.

It started off with a trip to Encinitas to see Jarrah's doctor. And why were we going to the doctor a mere few days before the start of kindergarten? Well, that's exactly why. Someone's mommy has really dragged her feet about finishing those kindergarten shots. (Her name is Jarrah.) Maybe because the last round required the mommy and a nurse to sit on Jarrah while the shots were administered.

In the car, we talked about how this time could be easier if she didn't struggle like an gazelle being tagged for zoo observation. And then I had the doc make a speech to this effect, too. I think she was most convincing when she said that struggling makes the shots hurt more because the needle goes in deeper and get knocked around on the way out. Oof. I suggested we do an arm instead of a thigh this time, and the doc agreed this would hurt less. Then Jarrah said something priceless:

"No! Both of these are my lucky arms!"

We did the arm (the right, since she's a lefty.) I pinned the other arm, which is prudent since she tends to involuntarily put the hurt on the nurse with whatever she can. She didn't struggle. And she didn't cry! She said "OW!" very indignantly and then the nurse and I crowed "You're all done!" and the profound relief on her little face almost triggered tears from me instead. And no fever afterward (like last time) which was good because we were out late at a baseball game last night.

At her request, I dropped Jarrah at David's office so she could go to lunch with the boys, and I headed for school. I wanted to turn in the finally-completed physical form, but I was also itchin' for the classroom scoop! When I arrived, there were four women in the office, all of whom seemed really suspicious. Turns out it was a California state "furlough day," which I think means "No one comes to work but we have to open shop anyway, so everyone is a temp." I got a lot of blinky blankness when I said I wanted to turn in the medical form, and then I was crestfallen to hear, upon inquiring about the classroom assignments, that they wouldn't be available until after 4:00. I wasn't coming back.

There was a pony-tailed blond woman in the office who heard me, and suddenly said "Do you know the child's last name?"

I resisted a number of unhelpful cracks here and simply answered. "Doesn't ring a bell," she said. I turned to go.

"What's her first name?"

"Jarrah," I said.

"You mean Jarrah, the tallest tree in Australia? That Jarrah?"

I was dumbstruck. She was Australian? No, but she interviewed Jarrah at the assessment! She said Jarrah was one of the few children who knew anything about the origins of her name. And guess what--this was Jarrah's new teacher!

She walked me to her classroom for a tour, chatting up a storm. I ended up hanging out with her for nearly an hour. She's a "close-talker," and I found myself inching backwards bit by bit so I could see more than just her eyeballs. I had this surreal, distant feeling where I kept telling myself, "This is it. Jarrah's first year of school. She's going to be in this room, with this teacher, every day for a whole school year." I was pleased to learn that two of the four friends from preschool are also in her room--that should really help the transition. I really like close-talking teacher--she's very open, and I appreciate her philosophy on several things already. For instance, she is the only one of the K teachers who doesn't give homework ("believe me, they work hard enough during the day") and until November, they don't "work" after lunch ("it's diminishing returns when they're that tired.") I also liked how she's the only teacher who has no good-behavior incentive program (something about earning points for prizes?) and instead tells them "In the real world, everyone has a job, and if you don't do your job, you get fired." "Jarrah is totally going to get that," I assured her. "I've never done charts or stickers or any of that myself."

When I got home, the giant packet of Jarrah name stickies had arrived. Together with the new (monogrammed!) backpack and the huge bag of copy paper and wipes (will they be learning in a petri dish?) I am "donating" to the classroom, that should complete her school prep. She will arrive fully immunized and thoroughly labeled on the first day to find the cardboard tent with her name perched on a little table in Room 42.

No doubt she'll be wearing a new back-to-school dress that she'll complain is hot and scratchy, in the tradition of early September in southern California, a rite of passage I endured myself.

Not so very long ago, it seems. We'll watch her go into that room with the colorful rug, the maps, the blocks, the wall charts, the book caddies and the (slightly outdated) computers, and she'll come out again very much CHANGED.

And I'll try to hold myself together while that's happening.


Caroline said...

I'll think of you next week.

I love the teacher's comment about getting fired in the real world! I think an entire sitcom series exploded in my head when I read that. :)

Stephanie said...

I love it, all of it!

Jen said...

Oh, I'm SO glad you got that teacher. And that you got to have the whole classroom tour! Good for you both. Can't wait to find out how next week goes!

Anonymous said...

Jarrah's new teacher sounds perfect for her and for you! (okay, maybe not the close-talking, but the rest of it) I like her no-nonsense approach.
I love the line about these both being her lucky arms - priceless! I like how Jarrah thinks. She is a survivor.