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Making Our Way Through First Grade

understanding childrenMy six-year-old daughter was telling me about her day. If you have a child or know someone that does, more than likely you know this never happens, so I listened intently. There was nothing about math, or language arts, or French. What happened apparently was much more important than even recess. Two girls in the class, including mine, wore empire waist dresses and this was big news.  “Empire waist”—her words.

Two thoughts went through my head. The first one was SOMEONE HELP ME — I’VE CREATED A SIX-YEAR-OLD FASHIONISTA. The second, and this one I shared with my daughter, was, “Do you know how to say empire in French?” My rationale was simple — if indeed I did create a fashionista, French would be imperative.

A few weeks before this happened, there was another learning experience. Rylan decided her tooth was loose – it really wasn’t, but the idea of the tooth fairy visiting again was just too attractive to not force nature. She was on the playground and told her best friend her tooth was loose and needed help removing it. The best friend told her she should get her brother, who was on the soccer field. My daughter, being an only child, finally found the reason for brothers and did as she was advised. She headed over to the soccer field, because where else would you get a tooth extracted? The brother told Rylan he needed paper towels. Following the instructions of her wise, seven-year-old dental practitioner, Rylan went to the bathroom and fetched some paper towels.

Now, imagine if you will, me, a somewhat germaphobic mother, listening to this story. I can’t even begin to tell you how many germs were getting ready to enter my daughter’s mouth, nor did I want to think about it, but I knew the count was exceeding billions. When my daughter returned to the soccer field, apparently an adult entered the picture who informed the dentist, the dental assistant and the patient that tooth extractions weren’t allowed during recess. Rylan, being the thoughtful friend that she is, left her friends behind and proceeded to remove her own tooth. The tooth fairy visited that night and she always does, left money and a note (on Tooth Fairy letterhead) that said, “Remember to take care of your teeth.”

We had our first field trip during the first few weeks of school. We went to the beach to collect bay species for the fish tank in the classroom. I showed up early and was immediately recruited by the science teacher to help with the “seine.” I mistakenly thought a “seine” was a river in France and of course I would help with that. So there I was, knee-deep in Chesapeake Bay water, one end of the seine (it turns out to be a fishing net—not as glamorous as a French tributary) in my hand, one end in the science teacher’s hand, fishing for creatures of the deep. The science teacher let out the a yelp. I knew it was bad when a science teacher screams in pain. I was concerned, gravely concerned. For myself. The teacher had been wounded by a creature of the deep. Never mind she was just stung by a jellyfish — I’m a writer and being wounded by a creature of the deep sounds much better. My first reaction normally would have been to drop the net and go flying into shore at warp speed, but the eyes of an entire first grade class were upon me. In my lifelong quest to be SuperMom, could I handle this and persevere? Interestingly, I did and didn’t get wounded once, despite the jellyfish convention being held around my ankles. I’m happy to say the science teacher made a full recovery.

Life goes on and does so as I count the remainder of the days left in first grade. If I can make it through first grade, I’m positive I can do anything. Then again, as moms of older children like to continually remind me — it gets harder, not easier.

Donna L. Cole is a freelance writer living in the Annapolis area.


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