Present tense: Kindergarten, day two

Gabe came downstairs dressed and ready for kindergarten this morning, his second day of school. That’s my paycheck and my yearly bonus these days. Especially since I had been prepared for the worst — he just as easily could have woken up grumpy and crying, right?

“Good morning, sweetheart,” I told him. I hugged him and tousled his hair. “What do you want for breakfast?”

“Cereal,” he said, happily.

As I poured Shredded Wheat into a bowl and got him a glass of milk, I asked, “Are you excited about school today?”

“Yeah!” he said, obviously really happy about school.

I’m so excited for him. I can literally feel how ready he is to be at school, learning. When I look at him, I can clearly remember being in kindergarten myself. I was thrilled with my teacher, with being taught.

Kindergarten had a different effect on my daughter, Anna. She loves to learn, but she reacted badly to the demanding full day of school. Each afternoon she turned into a little monster, calling me names, hitting, and generally falling apart at the seams. Most days she ate dinner in her pajamas and went to bed early.

Gabe is calmer about school. He is more settled than his sister and generally just a happier guy. I wish that I understood exactly why. After school yesterday, he gave me a full play-by-play announcement of the day. I loved it. He spent ten minutes trying to figure out the pronunciation of his music teacher’s last name.

This morning, on the way to school, he and Anna had an argument. “Anna called me an idiot,” he called, a few steps ahead.

“Idiot?” I asked. “Anna, did you learn that word at school?” Great. “You guys, idiot is a terrible thing to call each other. Let’s not start the day that way, okay?” I asked. They laughed.

At school, a friend with a son in Gabe’s class stopped to say hi. “Gabe’s translator is here!” she said cheerfully. “Gabe whispers everything, so Evan calls out what he says,” she explained.

“That’s funny. I told Gabe to do the same thing for Evan,” I said, laughing. “Whenever Mrs. C. says something in Spanish.”

“Great idea!” she said.

When I hugged Gabe goodbye before the bell rang, I told him to use his loudest voice today at school, to pretend he’s yelling at Anna when he talks in class. He said he didn’t want to.