My son was nervous about his kindergarten screening, so I quizzed him on a few pertinent questions. What town do you live in? What is your mom’s name? How many times did you pick your nose behind my back today?
I knew he’d do just fine, he’s a smart cookie. I knew the screener wasn’t going to come out from behind the cubicle with a furrowed brow and pursed lips, shaking her head, “I’m sorry Mrs. Johnson, your son will NOT be allowed to attend THIS school next fall. Perhaps if you would have played Ships Ahoy with him a little longer this morning instead of being so damned determined to fold that laundry….perhaps…”
My little guy skipped out with a huge grin on his face. “I counted, and I had to say colors and letters, and I readed the word ‘this’…” Oh god honey, don’t say “readed”, not in front of the screener….. He skipped to the play room while I discussed the results.
He is obviously ready for kindergarten. My little soldier went above and beyond the call of duty. They wrote “Wow!” and “Delightful” on his form. His nearly flawless score of 99.5 was only marred by the observation that he didn’t know where his hips were. Hmmm…that’s weird. He knows that. But perhaps under the pressure of these strenuous testing conditions, he may have hesitated…flinched at the rib area…one pause will cost you.
On our walk home I showered him with praise. You are such a smart little guy! I’m very proud of you! See, it wasn’t that scary…you got a 99.5 out of 100!! What does that mean? I went into a quick, age appropriate explanation about scoring and testing procedures, and how he was only a half a point away from a perfect score and….
“Well what question did I get wrong?” Oh no. Why did I go there? Why didn’t I stop at “I’m so proud of you”? Shit.
“Well, they said you didn’t know where your hips were.”
He stopped dead in his tracks and loudly stated, “I DO know where my hips are!” He planted his fists firmly on his skinny little hips.
“Well, maybe she didn’t see you do that. Maybe she saw you point somewhere else?” I launch into probabilities of researcher error…”It doesn’t matter honey, you did such a good job…”
“I put my hands here…on my hips….like this….”
“Oh, well….then you and I know that you got 100, that’s all that matters”
“Let’s go back and tell them I know where my hips are.”
Nice. I would march back to the cubicle with the elephant on it, shove Quinn forward with a “Show ‘em buddy!” and stand back with folded arms, nodding, as he adamantly planted his hands on his hips. “Now you listen here”, I would seethe through my teeth, “obviously there’s been some mistake. This young man KNOWS his hips. Now are we going to give him the RIGHT score this time or is this going to get ugly…?”
No. I’m not that mom. “All that matters is that you did really well, and I’m proud of you. You did really well.”
We walked in silence for about a minute (that’s usually all I get) and he quipped happily, “I can’t believe I got 100!”
“Well, technically you didn’t….but WE know you did.” Shut up mom, just…shut…up.
“I did! I can’t believe I got 100!”
“I’m very proud of you.”
He repeated “I can’t believe I got 100!” several times this afternoon just to make sure that had been established. He overheard me telling the story to my husband on the phone and yelled from the living room, “I DID GET 100! I KNOW WHERE MY HIPS ARE!”
Quinn has now learned to question his new school, research methods and authority in general. He will start his own kindergarten study group to discuss society’s obsessive focus on hips and its negative impact on childhood development, undoubtedly planting the roots of body dysmorphic disorder.
But let’s get one thing straight. The boy knows where his hips are.