“You only assume I go to school.”

September 18, 2013

Notable Stats

Tidbits per Schoolday Quotient (TSDQ) – The number of activities your child tells you they did in school divided by the number of activities they actually did.

School Silence Horizon (SSH) – The amount of time it takes from the time you pick up your child from school to the first time they tell you anything about school.

Like most parents, our kids apparently go to school in an undisclosed location with an invisible teacher for an unmeasurable amount of time. The FBI may have trouble getting information from our kids if they wanted to know what they did on any given day.

I know we dropped them off, I know my wife or I saw them enter through the front door and walk down a corridor laced with chaperones and guides. This is not a figment of our imagination, we saw it happen.

Amazingly, once they enter the classroom, nothing happens. We pick them up nearly 8 hours later and absolutely nothing transpired according to our children. Actually, let me clarify, once in a while something happens.

“What did you do today at school?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know” happened.

So maybe the teachers are executing a nefarious plan. Like Men in Black, when the day is over, for some insane reason, the teachers erase our children’s memory. Blanking out information because a toddler or pre-schooler armed with skills like addition could be a threat to national security. If a child leaves the building and reveals that they ate graham crackers for lunch or that the potty overflowed that day, it could destroy the fabric of our society as we know it. So teachers make sure what happens in the classroom, stays in the classroom.
But as parents, we can’t buy into that conspiracy theory, so we move from the agnostic answers to press for more information through another line of questioning. We vaguely remember during parent-teacher conferences that there are specific activity stations, so we can use that knowledge to formulate more detailed questioning.

“What did you learn today? Did you play with Israel? Did you make a tower with the blocks?”

“Nothing. No. No. Nope”

The dreaded quadruple negative answer.

Then we wait for the elaboration that is coming. And finally it trickles out over days in some juxtaposition of time and space. Yesterday is actually tomorrow, tomorrow is actually two days ago, and the art project finally explained was from 2011, but at least we are getting somewhere.

At one point, I had both our son and daughter in the car and I decided that the best approach is the guess what they did. I also realized that if I make outlandish guesses, our son will press his sister to answer the question, lest I continue making up ridiculous questions.

“Did you learn to brush your teeth with a mop?”

“Did the teacher show you how to eat sections of the chalkboard?”

“Did you figure out how to wash your hands using motor oil?”

“Did you make art out of asphalt and baking soda?”

Our daughter by then is laughing, our son is begging my daughter to tell me the real story so I can stop.

Assuming this tactic is not something that would break a group of Navy Seal Kindergartners, I move on to the waiting game.

I then try and respect their need to tell us at their own leisure. To let it organically spew from their hearts because the passion for what they did that day cannot be contained. Trinomials were transformational, table washing was euphoric, story time was existentially validating.

So we wait and learn to accept that for days at a time, our children verbally express nothing about what they learned. Maybe as parents, we have to be satisfied that they are learning and that when we watch how they grow right in front of our eyes, what they gained from the gift of getting an education is actually always front and center.

Even so, it is myth that kids can’t keep secrets. They are as good as anyone at hiding how they are learning. The CIA should start recruiting out of pre-schools. Kindergarten is a spy breeding ground.

- Doug Glanville

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