from the parent’s perspective: a class visit

For my son’s birthday, he decided he wanted to share a story with his classmates. We purchased a copy of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears for his classroom. By email I asked Ms. Barnick if I could bring the book to school and read it to the class. Her positive response included several exclamation marks.

So that is how my three-year-old and I ended up in my son’s kindergarten class last Wednesday. My son was happy to see us. So was the boy we see every morning at the bus stop.

Ms. Barnick introduced the younger one as “little brother,” but he corrected her: “I’m big!” He sat among the kindergarteners and got a taste of what it’s like to be in school. I was invited to sit in the rocking chair, a privilege that’s typically reserved for the teacher, my son informed me.

As I read, several children commented on the pictures and the story line. They helped make the animal noises. They laughed in the right places.

After the book, we stuck around to hear the kindergarteners sing two songs with actions. My three-year-old left disappointed. “We didn’t have cake.” I explained that the school didn’t allow food for birthdays. Then he protested because his older brother was not coming home with us. But the school day isn’t done, I told him.

I left on a more positive note. Back in the day, when I worked at our state’s Department of Education, we heard a fair amount about parent involvement. All the NCLB-inspired talk about parental involvement plans seemed like a really top-down approach. Now, as I’m trying to figure out how to be involved at school, the topic has shifted from the theoretical to the concrete. Where can I be of help? The PTO seems a little bit like a clique, and I suspect I’m not cool enough to fit in there. But in my son’s classroom I’m welcome. That’s a really good foundation for parental involvement.


Today we celebrated my husband’s birthday. His birthday according to the INS, that is. He doesn’t really know when he was born. (Though he mother recalls it was a Thursday, the month, day and year are elusive). May 5th is just the date he uses when filling out forms and official documents.

When I first met him, he had said he’d never celebrated his birthday before and saw no reason to start now. So in past years we never paid too much attention to it. But now that we’ve got a son who enjoys singing “Happy Birthday” and eating birthday cake, things have changed. He was serenaded three times and then we all had a piece of carrot cake.