On the first day of school, I inquired about volunteering in Buzzy's kindergarten class. Her teacher informed me that the class parent spots were already filled. What? It was the first day of school. Did the other mothers procure the coveted spots when I was helping Buzzy locate her new cubby, or was it that conversation in the lobby with the principal that doomed my chances? I grumbled to myself about open and transparent elections and helicopter parents who usurped the Rule of Law in kindergarten parent politics.
Despite my frustrations at being an unsuccessful helicopter parent myself, I totally understand why the mommies lined up to volunteer. Daily life at home with small children can be soul sucking. But, at school, kindergartners are sunshine and rainbows when they see their parents. Buzzy's guileless little face lights right up if I pop into her classroom to drop something off. Sometimes, she'll still hold my hand in the parking lot--although, more and more often, I have to make the first move and hold on tightly. I remember my superstar mommy volunteering at my first grade Halloween party--she and Mrs. P dressed like witches and served us a brew steaming with magic that I only later learned was dry ice. I also remember my mother volunteering at my sixth grade dance. I hid behind a post and didn't make eye contact. The other moms and I--we know where this is headed. Sign us up for cupcake duty and field trips to the cranberry bog now.
The email requesting volunteers at the kindergarten Halloween party sat in my inbox for over an hour before I saw it. Late to the game again. My heart dropped when I saw the one spot that was left: Ghost Math. I find even the non-haunted variety of math pretty frightening. I'd ordered my academic and professional life around avoiding it at all costs. But there it was, laid out in some sort of equation. Access to the Halloween party = overcoming fear of kindergarten math.
Her teacher assured me that I only had to know how to add up to five, so I signed up, with some trepidation. Buzzy glowed during the Halloween parade. She took my hand and showed me her classroom: the pencil sharpener, the book nook. The golden morning got even better when I met the other mother at the Ghost Math station--she was a physician! Music to this English major's ears. She did the heavy math lifting, and Buzzy kindly helped me out a bit, too, before scampering off to bedazzle a pumpkin. Mostly, I focused on reminding the kids to write their names on their worksheets. I still don't quite understand the point of Ghost Math. But I know things get trickier above five.