"shape them on the social kneading board"

My daughter’s kindergarten homework gives evidence of something I used to do myself: intellectually twiddle my thumbs by embellishing schoolwork easily mastered. Examples: having filled out a grid with numbers one through one hundred, Sophie will go back and embellish each void space within the numerals 6, 8, 9 and 0; she will write notes in the margins or put flourishes in her name. Even on an occasion last week she corrected an error in the homework itself. Volunteering in her classroom I have not seen any other child do this to the extent she does.

However her intellectual prowess, such as it is, does not manifest in boredom or ennui in a way that is easily detected or even harmful. In fact she is cheerful enough to go to school and fine sitting on the carpet being not-challenged by the academic exercises. She enjoys her social time and navigates confidently. She has learned bullying behaviors and how to be an Alpha Female; that is, rude to some of her other classmates although quick to say “sorry” and respect her teacher’s authority. She seems to like all subjects. Last Friday while getting ready she said, “I have P.E. today,” then paused… “so I need some sweats.” As if kindergarten physical education needs to be geared for.

Still, today I notice that her abbreviated day at school (8:30 to 11:15 AM, cut short for conferences) seems to result in her being less keyed-up and more receptive to the remainder of the day’s activities: visiting the bike shop (a new kickstand and – ding! ding! ding! – my xtracycle parts are in!), having lunch in a cafe with my mom and a friend, stopping at the library, and finally, returning home to start our dinner with Nels and I (he is always willing and able to be a great help in the kitchen). This latter exercise was the most fun for me. All three of us took our knives to trimming green beans and carrots and did the dishes together afterwards. That done we retired to my bed to each of us to read silently for a while which in turn made me too sleepy to do much of anything else until Ralph returned home and I biked the four or so miles to this evening’s preschool Board meeting.

It’s only spring, and the beginning of spring at that, but already I long for the long days of summer with my children in my house and out of doors.

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