Today I am grateful for paste. Good old school paste. The kind of paste we all ate when we were in grade school. The kind of paste that turned your fingers the same color of the construction paper you were trying to paste together into a museum quality piece. The kind of paste that had more crap sticking to your desk, arms and hair than it did to your masterpiece.

Yesterday at our youngest grandson’s Grandparent’s Day I sat there praying someone would haul out a bunch of construction paper and a tub of paste. I couldn’t wait.

Instead the very well-meaning, young teacher force-fed us the power point history of Dr. Seuss. Not too bad. Then she read a story as though it were an audition for Broadway, which I can relate too. I like to get a little dramatic when I read a story, too, otherwise what’s the point? After that it was the technology of the smart board and individual I-pads. Up until that point we had barely see our grandson because the little ones were all on the rug in the front of the packed room. We had not talked to him at all.

It wasn’t what I expected from Grandparents Day. I’ve been to these before. Usually you sit with the kid and after a brief summary of expectations by the teacher, he/she shows you what he’s been doing in school. Then there is some sort of lame game/exercise where the grandkid asks you questions about your childhood, followed by a cookie. It’s like 7-year-old-psycho-therapy with a treat. They laugh when you tell them all you had to play with was a pair of roller skates that clipped onto your saddle-shoes and had a special key that you wore around your neck on a string. The questions would fly fast and furious. How did the skates stay on? What are saddle-shoes? Did the key open your house, too? It was fun and chatty and a great way to connect with a grandchild.

Yesterday the kids were given their I-pads and ten minutes to decide whether they wished they had any number of odd things as part of their bodies. Some wanted tiger paws, tails, big ears, fangs, whatever. Then they were to write a sentence or two about why they wanted that part. Our grandson couldn’t decide. The clock was ticking. We encouraged a decision. He doesn’t handle pressure well. Neither did we.

“But I DON’T know what to WRITE!” He was near melt-down, red faced and ready to burst into tears.
“That doesn’t matter because first you have to pick and then I’ll help you write the sentence because I’m a writer.”
“You’re not a WRITER!” he said, pretending he was laughing, but was near exploding. “You think you’re a WRITER?” His head was shaking “no” like an editor with an attitude. Everyone’s a critic.

Tick-tick-tick! He finally chose wings, then shut down and couldn’t/wouldn’t draw them. I did it. Grandpa started to write the sentence. “TIME’S UP!” The teacher said firmly. We weren’t done. I felt like a contestant on Jeopardy who had to put her pen down mid-word. “I would like it if you could stay, but the administration wants you out before the buses come, so please say good bye.” I snatched the I-pad out of Mr. Hunt & Peck’s hand (grandpa)and finished typing the sentence and then another. Finished! Take that! We’re we cheating or protecting? I don’t even care. It was too little time and too impersonal an activity. And too much pressure for a first grader. . .and his grandma and grandpa.

I’m glad they are learning with I-pad’s. The latest technology is going to be vital to the future of today’s young people. But give it a rest on Grandparent’s Day! We already raised our kids and now we just want to have fun. Most people from my generation can’t get our grandkids faces out of technology. Ever. For thirty minutes, in their school, I would have been grateful for some real, honest to God face-time over multi-colored construction paper and good old paste! And a lousy cookie!

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