My son had a birthday last week. As part of the festivities, his school invites parents to celebrate with a healthy snack and a chance to sit in during "gathering" time to sing "Happy Birthday." So I took an hour off from work and visited him in his classroom. It was fascinating and strange — like visiting my dad at the office when I was growing up. Here's this person whom I know so well, who has a completely different life that I know very little about. Sure, I'm confident that his teachers are nice to him, and we love his school. But seeing him in his element was as novel for me as it was for him.
"My mommy is here!" he squealed as I walked through the door, armed with fruit salad. But then, since he's older now and too cool for mom, he gave a shy little wave and returned to his square story time mat. I folded myself onto a child-sized chair and sat a respectable distance away as his teachers led the kids through songs and games, punctuated by some mean tambourine action courtesy a few very musical toddlers. Then it was story time, which was hilarious: During the course of the conversation — naturally story time devolved into a conversation — one child revealed that snowflakes are made from butter. My own child disclosed that he heard the big thunderstorm the other night while swimming with pet ducks in his backyard pool. (Sadly, we do not have a backyard pool, and we don't own pet ducks.) The kids were so earnest, and the teachers took each comment in stride. It was great.
And, as they crooned happy birthday, I watched my son get a bit confused. His brow furrowed. He looked a little antsy. He scanned the room for me, but he tried to play it suave underneath his Red Sox cap (a birthday present from his grandmother). I flash-forwarded to him as a teenager, being dropped off at the movies or walking a mile ahead of me at the mall. We locked eyes for a minute, he beamed, and then he went back to singing. I have a feeling it was the best part of both of our days.
Do you ever visit your kids at school? Isn't it funny to see them in a different context?
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