Friday, June 12, 2009


Yesterday was Daisy's kindergarten graduation. Her dad went to the ceremony, and I took her to the park for the celebration with 80 kindergartners and their families. We kept Violet at home, who's still sick.

I can't believe Daisy finished kindergarten already. It was quite a year for her. I was surprised by the sophisticated social structure the girls created in kindergarten. In general, the boys learned to sit still on the carpet, struggled to control their impulses, missed their mommies and chased the girls at lunch . . . while the girls created clubs, alliances, frienemies . . . established what's in and what's out, and thrilled each other with sordid, exaggerated stories.

We had a particularly shocking start to kindergarten. In the second week, my daughter told me something that another little girl had said to her that was in the category of sexual harassment. It was a serious situation that was dealt with delicately and fairly for all parties concerned, but it was a rough welcome to elementary school. My husband said at the time, "What's next? Gang wars?"

Daisy's tastes changed quite a bit this school year. Daisy began talking about High School Musical, even though she's never seen it and begged for the pajamas. She told me "Hannah Montana is so exquisite." Wah? Her interest in Disney princesses and Barbies became so last year. I purchased music that I thought might appeal to her . . . Natasha Bedingfield, Adele, Colby Caillat . . . hoping to influence her musical tastes before she discovers the Jonas Brothers (shudder). I do realize that kids grow out of their poor musical tastes . . . I listened to the Osmonds and even an album "sung" entirely by birds when I was her age, so I can't be too critical.

The girls in Daisy's kindergarten class were obsessed with creating clubs, the main focus being who was going to be excluded that day, and everyone was banished at one point or another. I choked on my dinner one night when Daisy told me that they had formed the Hot Girls Club and her nickname was Hot Lava. The teacher fought back by instilling the idea that the only rule of school was We're Friends. The girls compromised by creating a general Girls Club and directing the boys to create the Boys Club, and then some of the girls, my daughter included, switched to the Boys Club and joined in chasing the other girls at lunch. See, the girls are dynamic like that.

Religion was a surprising topic that came up this year. Daisy came home from school with lots of questions . . . "Are we Jewish?" No. "What are we then?" Well, that's sort of complicated . . . We have a general Christian background on my side of the family and they're atheists on your dad's side. I personally prefer not to identify with any specific religion but stay open to various spiritual beliefs . . . "But we're not Jewish (disappointed tone)?" No, sorry.

And then there was the time when I was in the hot tub with Daisy and she turned to me and said, "I don't believe in God. I only believe in the devil. The devil is awesome. I love the devil." OK, who's been talking like that at school? "Kate." Well, Kate is going for something called shock value. The devil's make believe. "No, mom. The devil's real." No, it's pretend. Santa and the Easter Bunny are real. The devil's fake.

I often asked Daisy about school after picking her up. Her response was usually something like "nothing" or "I don't want to talk about it right now. Stop asking me questions." When she did tell me about school, it was about the social drama. I became concerned . . . but what did you learn? School is about learning! Recently, she shook her head and told me condescendingly, "Mom, school is about being big. I've already learned everything. I'm big now." No, you learn for the rest of your life. I'm still learning. You never stop. But she wasn't convinced.

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