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First Lessons
November 9, 2007 - 12:05am


I had thought parents’ night at Starbuck’s kindergarten was for the kids to show us their artwork, which hung around the walls. They’d made enough fruit salad earlier in the day to fill a gigantic punch bowl, and the bananas had gone black. There were also six baby carrots and six celery sticks. It was long after dinner, nearly the kids’ bedtime, and none of the parents touched the food. The kids served themselves neat, perfect portions and stood eating them from paper plates, like small faculty members at an honors banquet.

In reality, the event was for parents to meet other parents. Montessori is big on socialization, and the teacher told us the kids had been practicing all week to introduce us. Every child was to make one social introduction: “Mother, Father, I’d like you to meet Mr. and Mrs. Churm, Starbuck’s father and mother. Mrs. Churm is in international education. Mr. Churm, apparently, is some sort of online diarist. Mr. and Mrs. Churm, these are my parents. They’re rich.”

No one made a single introduction, and we chatted with the couple next to us. At the end of 45 minutes, the teacher asked the kids to sit in a circle. She asked if everything went as planned. The kids all nodded yes. We parents all smiled indulgently, affectionately. The teacher smiled and praised us.

One of the first lessons of the classroom is that not collaborating is to be made to stay longer. Having relearned our lesson on reaching common goals, we happily went home and slept well.


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