I should have known. I don’t know why I was surprised, or why I cried for 2 days and saw my life as over, but I did.
My 4 year old failed preschool.
For 8 1/2 months, I dropped him off and picked him up 3 days a week with nary a peep from his teacher. It was now mid-May, and I was weeks away from doing the Happy Dance that all my kids would be in school next year. And then she uttered the dreadful words, “He’s not ready for kindergarten.” Not ready? Not ready? You mean I’ve been bringing my son here for one quarter of his life so that you could get him ready, and he’s not ready? What in the world have you been doing with him? Playing Power Rangers?
I had a moment of deja-vu as I remembered the meeting with my oldest son’s preschool teachers 10 years ago, somewhere around May as well....”We don’t know what’s happened, but suddenly he doesn’t know anything...”
I’m pretty good at hiding emotion and remaining calm in the midst of uncomfortable situations, so my thoughts remained my THOUGHTS as the teacher walked through the assessment...
Zach thinks our actual names are Mommy and Daddy. He has no idea we have real names, or that he has a last name. He also doesn’t know his phone number, address, or birthday. He DOES know he is a boy. Well, that’s fabulous.
His self portrait is rather frightening with 3 legs, 2 stumps for arms but none of the limbs attached. I wonder what I would look like on paper.
His scissor cutting project looks like it went through the paper shredder, and suddenly I have an idea for how to get all those old papers shredded AND give my kid something to do...
When it comes to naming shapes, he names the rectangle a Power Ranger. Oh, so I see. You HAVE been playing Power Rangers with him.
After almost 9 months of preschool, my kid knows nothing. Awesome.
And I watch my freedom slip away. All my hopes and dreams of my mommy job being downsized next fall are dashed in those terrible words, “He isn’t ready.” The ambitious and exhausted mother in me thinks, “Well, let’s get him ready! We’ve got 3 more months to cram this stuff in his head. Please... I’m desperate. I can’t take another year home playing Power Rangers and video games and visiting smelly petting zoos and germ infested play lands, eating Happy Meals. I’m dying here, and so ready to take full advantage of our crappy-yet free-public education system in exchange for a sliver of sanity. I’ve been looking forward to September 2013 for 5 years. By 2014, I’ll be senile, or dead. Being a MOP for one more year WILL kill me. Help!"
My mind and heart run the gamut of emotions as my reality becomes clear for the Fall of 2013. And next, I think, “Crap! My kid actually failed preschool. This is bad. This is really bad. What does this mean for him? Is he disabled? Does he have learning issues? Should I start meds now? Schedule the IEP meeting? Move into a house with a basement so he’ll have somewhere to live when he’s 25? Or do I accept the fact he’ll be homeless? It’s his dad’s fault. I was the smart one in school.
My son failed preschool, and all I can think is, “I’ve failed as a mom.” I have a Master’s Degree in Education and my kid doesn’t know what a square is. How embarrassing.
And then I remember the truth about the world we live in - all the great influencers were horrible at school! Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were college dropouts. Thomas Edison was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything and should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. He dropped out of school. Other high school dropouts were Princess Diana, Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Rockefeller, Walt Disney, and Elton John. And I think they all did okay in life.
Zach is in good company. Perhaps Zach didn’t fail preschool. Maybe preschool failed him. And suddenly I’m encouraged. In fact, I’m inspired, and I stand a little taller. When other kids see just a rectangle, my kid sees a Power Ranger. And maybe he can’t operate a pair of scissors or a crayon, but he knows his way around my Iphone better than his techy dad. His uncanny ability to research anything he’s looking for be it a new game or a toy or posting high scores on my Facebook page has me thinking about his future at Apple. Not to mention the kid’s desire to talk incessantly about life with whoever will listen and his strong will to persuade his listener to agree with him. Politician? Lawyer? CEO? Pastor? God help us. And where the school system sees a kid who can’t conform, I see a kid who’s unique, a kid who will be a world changer.
I rush out to buy workbooks and flashcards and educational games. Because while I no longer see failure but genius, for the safety of all involved, this child must go to school next year and conform just enough so that his mom can remain sane.
And by the way, he now knows my first and last name. And as a bonus, he also calls me his hero.