Escaping ennui

I made it through Back to School night without being sent to the principal’s office. Not that I was ever sent when I was in school…like Johnny Cash, I walked the line, but managed to never trip over it. Other than my daydreaming, my teachers’ only complaint was that I talked in class. A lot.

In third grade, our desks were in a U-shaped layout and my teacher told Mom that I was constantly talking to my friend. I was Mom’s sixth rodeo, so she said, “Well, why don’t you move him?” The teacher pointed at one corner of the classroom, where the tip of the U was. “I did. He sits there,” she said. Then she pointed at the opposite corner, where the bottom of the U was, “And his friend sits there. They just talk across the classroom.”

I recall that when that didn’t work, we would hang signs off our desks to communicate. If we could have gotten our hands on carrier pigeons, we would have each converted our desks into roosts.

So I wasn’t terribly surprised to find that 3B’s desk had been moved to the front and center of the class. Or that it was moved again the next day. I wish his teacher hadn’t told him that she was moving it because he didn’t get his work done, or that she understood that he almost has to talk to get his work done. As he astutely observed, “I was talking and working.”

Talking helps him work faster, actually. And he’s never been the fastest school worker, so his teacher might want to employ every advantage she can. And maybe that’s what she’s doing–putting him with kids who also talk and who don’t consider it a distraction. But from the sound of how she introduced it–and the lesson he learned from it–that’s not what she’s doing.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, but it seems to me that this is an example–like the lack of adequate recess–of the school being designed against boys rather than for them.

Whatever. As long as he keeps learning about non-linear causality in the space-time continuum through graphic novels, I’m not too worried.

We’ll see if my opinion on school design changes when Jewel gets to school. Right now she’s happy in preschool, though she’ll never admit that to us. We’re not sure how much she’s absorbing since she recently told us that a synagogue is and animal and Yom Kippur is a person, but being happy is a good start.

And, for Jewel, definitions and words are much like cause and effect in space-time: non-linear, flexible and not handcuffed to each other. Why not? Language is a virus from outer space, after all.

What’s most important to me is that in the last week, she’s decided that I’m worth spending time with again, after relegating me to a purgatory of preschooler ennui–good enough to open car doors and fasten seatbelts, but not acceptable for skilled labor, such as meal preparation, story reading or the dressing of Polly Pockets.

Holy crap. It just dawned on me…I had become Jewel’s valet, with a hard “t”. That’s it–no more Downton Abbey for her. Off with her PBS!

Just yesterday she called and left the sweetest voicemail for me when she awoke and found me gone–as I am every morning. Somehow, now she needed to tell me she missed me. Maybe it’s the turning of the seasons, maybe she’s buttering me up for a bigger allowance or maybe her 78th viewing of the Little Mermaid convinced her that fathers do have some function beyond imposing autocracy that might be of some value.

Who cares? Not this guy.

I love chatting with Jewel. Her mind is full of the most amazing thoughts and visions and words, all of which she’ll share in a fashion that makes me believe she reads On the Road under the covers after we tuck her in. An endless scroll of words spools out from her as narrates, dictates and bloviates her way through her day. Hearing her reminds me of the days when I had to move my seat every week and had daydreams.