Tonight was 'parent orientation night' at Isaiah's school.
The non air conditioned gymnasium was like a sauna when we showed up at 6:20. Most, but not all of the folding benches which along with similar folding tables (which were not unfolded) transform the gym into the cafeteria at lunch time were reaching across the floor to provide seating for the families present.
There were kids sitting quietly with their folks and there were kids running amok. In the echoing room communication was possible only within a radius of a few feet. When we sat Gideon was content on my lap and Isaiah sat on Ruth's but before the principal came out to kick things off, Gideon had decided to go back to his mother and Isaiah moved between Ruth and I and sitting on the bench, flopped his torso across my lap.
"I love you, Man, but it's too hot in there for that. Don't lay on me."
"OK, Dad," he said sitting up and leaning over against me.
Soon the principal came out to welcome us and introduce the teachers. As she dismissed us to go explore our kids' rooms, I realized where Charles Shultz and the producers of the Peanuts TV got the idea for the honking, muffled sounds that always represent the voice of a teacher on the show. The cheap microphone and decades old speakers of the 'public address' system in the hard-walled echoing gym were only a tiny bit easier to understand than the unforgettable "Wu wah, wuagh wawa waaw" we all remember asking Charlie Brown to take his dog home from school.
As we began the short walk from the gym to room 105 Isaiah was hopping around, flailing at the end of my arm like an angry trout on the end of the line- or like Kroger when she was a pup on her leash.
"Isaiah, settle down and straighten up," I said "according to what your mom told me you didn't have the best day in school today. Let's not have a bad night too."
His gyrations reduced a bit when I made reference to the fact that he'd almost earned himself his first trip to the principal's office of his life earlier in the day. Evidently, his day's improprieties began with talking back to the teacher and continued with an incident on the playground later on.
"Hey- here's my room guys!" Isaiah called leading us inside his classroom.
"Hello Mrs Clark," I said as we entered "Which desk is yours son?"
"Right here, Dad!"
He showed me his desk and bounced away as his behavior reverted to much what it had been in the hall, though this time I wasn't holding on to him. I asked if the 'storage area' in his desk was tidy and was surprised to discover when I opened it that it was. Of course there's not really much in there other than five folders and his pencil box. I asked what the folders were for and he told me they were just back-ups in case something 'bad' happened to the folder he's supposed to take back and forth to school every day. Then he shot back off to far corner of the room.
His room is rather small and crowded, but complex and interesting to a little fellow like him with several nooks, niches, and small, set-apart areas. As Ruth spoke with Mrs. Clark, I followed Isaiah over to the corner he was hopping around in.
"What is this area, Son?"
"This is the reading spot."
"I see... What do you do here?" I asked with a grin.
"Oh, not much. Just listen to stories," he answered as he skipped around behind one of the bookshelves into a small disorganized and somewhat hidden corner that seemed like a place the put stuff she didn't have anywhere else to put.
"What is that space back there for?"
"I don't know, I've never been back here before."
"Well what are you doing back there now? I'm not sure you're supposed to be back there."
"Why don't you come out of there?"
"OK. Hey- here's the science corner over here!" he cried galloping to the other end of the room. "Look at this cool dinosaur book! I'm gonna look at it a while, OK?"
While he read about dinosaurs I joined Ruth to talk to the teacher who relieved me when she told us he is not actually as rambunctious during school as he was being tonight.
He put the book away and jumped up. "Hey, Dad, come check out the tree house!"
Yes, his classroom does have a tree house. Over by the reading area and making one of the walls of the little warehouse Isaiah was exploring earlier, is a little structure the floor of which is about four feet square with waist high (to a four year old) sides, a canopy over the top and which is about four feet above the floor, reached by little stairs. He scampered up the steps with glee.
I'd been hearing about the tree house in his room since the first day he'd seen the room about a week before school started but I hadn't heard him talking much about it since.
"What do you guys usually do in the tree house?"
"I don't know, I've never been up here before."
He seemed to be making up for lost time, though. Checking it out and fooling around with whatever he found there. Mrs. Clark said she occasionally used it for things and sometimes let kids play in it as a treat. It was certainly fitting that description tonight
Soon though, he flitted off again- this time to the technology corner. He sat down at one of the old imacs and began fidgeting with the mouse and keyboard. He found a pair of headphones and put them on just as I was telling him to settle down and quit messing with stuff.
"I haven't been back here before, either. We're still waiting to get our internet access cards." he grumbled.
"Well, it's not my fault, Buddy. I filled out the form already."
Mrs. Clark told us they'd be getting their cards sometime and that he was OK back there since everything was turned off. Still, I called him out to show us the rest of the building.
His school is small and there wasn't much else to see. The library is where he has music and language and he hopped around in there on the big carpet that looks like a railroad track. He explained that the one's who've been bad and have to stay inside at recess have to sit where the rug is now, but they roll up the rug so those kids don't get to sit on it when they're in trouble.
When we left the library he led us on an exploration further down the hallway than he'd ever been before. We ended up at the language and speech teacher's small office where she was sitting awaiting visiting students and parents. We chatted briefly and when I mentioned that I didn't think Isaiah would be needing a lot of speech classes she said that she kept notes on the students and had already arrived at that conclusion. Then we bid her farewell and explored up the other direction.
As we passed by the principal's office I told Isaiah he'd barely missed a trip there earlier in the day. The principal, who is a very friendly and personable lady, came around a corner in the hall and saw Isaiah looking intently in her office. She greeted us with a smile and led us in to check it out. I immediately noticed that unlike any other room in the building, this one was gloriously cool.
"Rank has it's privileges, eh?" I jokingly asked.
"You bet it does!"
She gave Isaiah a hug and we went back to say goodbye to Isaiah's teacher. As we were walking out through the gym the speakers were once again reverberating in a semblance of a speaking voice with words that I could mostly make out as a thanks to the parents and students for coming out to the open house.
Isaiah has a neat room and a good teacher and now that I've been oriented I can better picture the stories he'll tell us about what goes on during his day. Though I figure it will still be like pulling hen's teeth to get anything but the slimmest facts of the day.