My oldest son, who is 6, is in 1st grade this year. I'm discovering that 1st grade is really nothing like Kindergarten and I find getting back into the swing of the school year is difficult for me. All of a sudden on a daily basis there are things coming home in the folder, weird things that make me pause and wonder about how strange the world is sometimes.
Take last night, for example. I pull out his folder to see if he has any homework, check his conduct report and all the papers he worked on at school that day. In the folder were two papers I had missed filling out in his original enrollment packet. I'm sure the administration staff were saying to themselves, "Make a mental note, Julius's mom can't follow directions."
Along with the papers was a sheet entitled... Chapter 1 Study Guide: Living and Non-living Things
The study guide explained the basics of how to tell if something is alive or not. I thought this was something you sort of understood on a primal level. Did they teach this in school when I was a kid? I have no idea. Doesn't it seem like if you're in 1st grade you should know this already? I just don't know.
But anyway, the basic jist is you're alive if you need food, water, air and space. Also, if you grow and change. The first line of the study guide begins with, "Non-living things were never alive." I decided I was going to read this short study guide to Julius as he's hanging out in the bathtub splashing water around liberally to hasten the inevitable decay in our bathroom floor.
I read a few sentences to him and then decide to quiz him about what I've read. I point to a wooden foot stool nearby and ask if it's living or non-living. Dr. Frankenstein declares it to be alive.
"Are you kidding me?" He has an interesting sense of humor and sometimes it's hard to tell when he's kidding.
"No, I'm serious."
"Well, does it grow?"
"Yes. If you add longer legs to it it gets taller."
"Well, true, but that's US changing it, not it changing on its own. Does it need food and water?"
"So, do you think it's alive then?"
"It was when it was a tree, so it used to be alive." Which, of course, refutes the first tenet of the study guide which stated that non-living things were never alive.
At that point, because I'm a human who is easily amused I couldn't resist writing the teacher to explain the quandary this study guide has caused in our house (and also to warn her what Mr. Smart Pantalones might try to pull on her). Her response, which arrived in the dreaded/anticipated purple folder that afternoon, was "I didn't think of that one!" Yeah, me either.
Lady, it's gonna be a long year.