I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 61 - Kindergarten Screening

Today was the last step of the lengthy process of getting my daughter registered for kindergarten. You'd think this would be a relatively simple thing, perhaps showing a birth certificate and signing a form, but it has grown into a multi-stage event that starts almost a year before kindergarten does.

When I went to kindergarten, my mother let me accompany her to the school to drop off the papers and I believe that they let me look in the door of the the kindergarten room. On the day that school started, my grandmother waited for the bus with me. Thereafter I waited for the bus by myself. This concluded the orientation.

For my daughter, we had to go to an overview meeting to decide which of the school's kindergarten programs would be the "best fit." There was a large packet of information and multiple forms. The drop dead date for registration for the "good" programs was in February and then we had to wait to see if she was accepted.

When we received the acceptance notification (Congratulations! We are glad to inform you ...), we had to submit another set of forms and a registration fee -- yes, for a public school -- so that we could get the next packet of forms and an invitation to the Kindergarten Roundup.

The Roundup was an opportunity to hand in some forms, ride around the parking lot in a school bus, and see that mystical kindergarten room with its cubbies, small chairs, and Lilliputian bathroom fixtures. (This is what my mother achieved with less ado by dropping by one afternoon so that Principal Dowling could show me around Boon Street School. I think he died right about the time that they tore the school down in 1970. Maybe he went down with the ship. From what I remember, he was not a "form" man, though he seemed upset when I vomited all over the papers on his secretary's desk in the fourth grade. Perhaps she should have been less dismissive when I said that I did not feel well.)

After the Roundup, we had the physical exam and inoculations. Then there was an evening orientation. The tiny toilet does not look any different at night. I was kind of hoping that it lit up.

There was also a half-day Saturday orientation session where attendance was "strongly encouraged." My daughter was bored with seeing the room by then so I cavalierly tossed the notification.

And today, we were finally screened. Screening is a nice idea and helps the schools be prepared to handle any challenges. As with my other children, I was counseled to have them practice both standing on one foot for five seconds and then hopping. My children are hopping-impaired. I still remember my now 43-year-old brother sobbing because he was going to fail skipping in kindergarten. It was officially on his report card. We practiced on the driveway for hours -- hop, hop on one foot, then hop, hop on the other, slowly, slowly, never gaining any fluidity of motion.

In today's screening, my daughter piled blocks flawlessly, read letters from a card, completed syllogisms, and counted up a storm. She did everything she was asked nearly perfectly. A bittersweet victory because she failed an important part of the screening. The audio screening revealed that she can't hear in a significant frequency range in her right ear.

They will retest next week and maybe everything will be fine, but it's more likely that we'll be seeing more doctors and more occupational therapy specialists. You can prepare and do all the tests and fill out all the forms and still life is what it is.

When I went to kindergarten with no extensive preparation, early in the school year one morning before the bell rang I climbed a huge old tree in the corner of the school yard. The teachers yelled at me from way down on the ground that my behavior was both unsafe and unladylike -- since ladylike is always safe -- but I tested their patience by not climbing down for a long time, not having been "oriented" to the idea that I needed to conform. Thirty years later during a visit home to Northern New York, I stopped by the lot where the elementary school had stood. The city demolished the neighborhood schools and many historic buildings in the 1970's in a misguided attempt to modernize by forcing the older teachers into retirement and replacing graceful construction with featureless, windowless block structures and vacant lots. The old tree was still there in the corner, reigning over a grass-covered lot that had been the "girl's side" of the building where children had lined up to listen for the morning bell for sixty years. I stood beneath the green canopy and examined the rough bark, the enormous girth of the trunk and branches of the massive old relic. I did not climb.

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