An Inauspicious Beginning

There is a certain level of injustice in everyday life. Not to complain or anything--we've got it pretty good--but the sheer unpredictability of life makes it more like a game of craps in Vegas. For example: who gets 103-degree fever his first day of Kindergarten? Who, exactly, gets that? Who must rise to the anxieties and terrors and great unknowables of the suspect "Elementary School," complete with strangers and other kids who seem completely at ease in their environment, with a battered immune system and an emotional frailty made intolerable by utter delirium?

I mean, is that fair?

And how about taking a non-test test, something mysterious called an "assessment" whereby you must pretend to understand what the hell this strange teacher wants when she asks you to point to a letter in a book? Why would anyone ask him something so ridiculous? He thought she might be having him on; he couldn't, even in his depleted state, believe that someone might ask him what page "the cover" was on and where to begin reading a sentence. He pointed, and kept looking at her like she was insane.

Didn't she know? Wasn't that a part of her job description? He dutifully read the book to her since she didn't seem to know herself, but it's not encouraging if your teacher is asking these questions of you. I mean, I'm five! And I have a fever! This is too much responsibility for me!

Later that night, in the midst of a feverish nightmare, he shot upright in bed yelling directly at me: "You never pick me up! You never come get me! You always forget me!" In my own sleepy confusion I defended myself and explained we had never forgotten him even once, evident, I thought, by his being in bed, next to me taking care of him, but he remained unimpressed. "You always forget me! And it's not a dream! I know it isn't!"

Well. I think that went smoothly, don't you?