Sitting in your kindergartener’s chair may require an extraction

image It’s time for this week’s installment of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. What these posts aren’t about is venting or vindictiveness.

So what’s the point?

Simply to offer the reflections of someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how: with humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.

Now, we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

Though it had been five years since our daughter’s first parent/teacher conference, my wife and I felt the same familiar anxiety as we entered our son’s kindergarten classroom, sat across from his teacher, and realized:

Neither of us is getting out of our tiny chair without having it surgically removed.

This is what is going through the mind of every parent, at every conference, for the first two years of their child’s education. Sure, we may be smiling and nodding and looking at samples of our child’s work while listening to assessments regarding key areas in their curricular activity, but in reality we’re just trying to keep our tiny chairs from becoming impacted.

When a voice from the intercom interrupted our meeting and briefly called the teacher away (possibly to help with an emergency chair extraction), my wife immediately turned to me and asked if I’d heard anything that had been said during the past 10 minutes. I told her I’d basically missed everything after, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Hickson. Please have a seat.”

My wife, who was obviously upset by this, asked what we were going to do. I told her, from what I remember, at this stage kindergarten was about basic numbers and writing their names, and assured her that our son was probably doing just fine.

“I mean about the chairs!” she hissed.

I told her I didn’t have a plan. However, if we were going to come up with one it needed to be now, before the teacher returned, or before our chairs were no longer visible — whichever came first. We decided the first part of our plan would be to, very carefully, try standing up. This was achieved after several attempts, the last of which involved a maneuver similar to something I saw in a Jackie Chan movie. I can’t really be more specific than that because 1) This may go to trial, and 2) My wife would kill me.

Not necessarily in that order.

The second part of our plan was to replace our chairs with something less invasive. We agreed it would have to be a subtle change. Something that would allow our conference to continue without drawing attention to the fact that we were no longer sitting six inches off the floor with our knees up around our ears, like a pair of grasshoppers ready to leap over the table.

Knowing our time was running out, we made a quick scan of the room and improvised as best we could. When our son’s teacher returned, it was apparent that our plan had failed; partly because the switch wasn’t one hundred percent complete.

But mostly it was because, in our haste, we hadn’t taken into account that the SpongeBob Squarepants bean bag chair — while tough enough to survive several years of hyperactive kindergartners — was never intended to withstand the impact of two full grown adults leaping onto it simultaneously. The result was a loud pop, followed by a burst of high velocity bean buckshot peppering the chalkboard and a good portion of the reading area. If not for being shielded by an oversized world atlas, there’s a good chance Biffy the mouse would not be alive today.

Once the bean dust settled, the only thing left to do was untangle ourselves, climb to our feet, retrieve our tiny chairs, and sit on them with as much dignity as possible. Given that we had none left, the rest of our conference went very quickly. On behalf of my wife and myself, I’d like to apologize for what happened. In the future, we will be happy to sit on whatever chairs are made available to us.

Assuming we’re allowed to sit at all.

Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

55 thoughts on “Sitting in your kindergartener’s chair may require an extraction”

    1. I’m not sure about your school visit experiences, but with mine the teacher always had a normal chair to sit in, which made me feel even more ridiculous.

  1. You really are one of the best, Ned.
    I need to channel your brilliance/madness and get around to finishing my second book.
    (I wanted to be witty and clever, but I just don’t have it in me right now. Next time,buddy.)

    1. Ahhh, thanks Robert. You’ve got enough brilliance/madness for 10 books! But if you channel any of it from me I’m telling my lawyer. If I ever get one.

      *holds stare to help underscore essentially empty threat*

  2. Love the image of the bean bag chair bursting – I’ve often wondered what that would look like. And thank God Biffy the mouse survived unscathed. Whew, that was close.

    I can’t believe that, even that many years ago, there were still Sponge Bob Squarepants in your classrooms. Here in Canada, we’ve had a great nationwide discussion about the appropriateness of using a sponge as a character for children’s amusement. You see, apparently, natural sponges are not gender specific. They will switch genders depending on the makeup of the colony. Many feared that this could cause serious gender issues in 3-8 year olds leading to incarceration for untreated split personalities at a later age. In other words, the character has to be sex-identified at each appearance – some days “Sponge Bob” and some days “Sponge Roberta”. And then the issue arises whether Sponge Roberta should wear a skirt to clearly differentiate between the two possible genders. So, she would be branded as Sponge Roberta SquareSkirt and “her” gender opposite would still be Sponge Bob Squarepants. Then comes the medically tricky job of determining the sex of Sponge Roberta/Bob on a daily basis.

    Clearly we have been focussing our energies on the important educational and social thrusts (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence that wasn’t porn) that will determine the health and prosperity of our future generations. All the while, you, Ned, have been sitting in teeny-weeny chairs and breaking bean bags. Phuleeease.

      1. Bwahahaha! Hook is right – you truly have a delighfully twisted mind Ned. I totally didn’t see that one coming!

  3. hilarious, ned. and believe me, i know your pain firsthand. i am a kindy teacher and have not sat in anything wider than one adult thigh or higher than a knee in many years. it is now an art form and a workout i consider on par with yoga.

      1. absolutely and along with the language issues and bad food, it completes the comparison. fyi – i always offer parents our one ‘big chair’ when they come in for a chat or to help out in our room. they almost always turn it down and then regret it later i think, but they generally put up a good front –

        1. That doesn’t surprise me about your big chair manners. Or about parents putting a good front. No one wants to be a whiner. Unless they are a humor columnist.

  4. My favorite kindergarten parent-teacher story involving my Ex?
    Glad you asked!

    My son and his friend had gotten into trouble at recess, early in the school year, for having a “wee wee contest” (basically exposing their penises to one another on the playground. He gets that from his father.)

    Of course, it got brought up at the conference by my son’s kindergarten teacher, who was a lovely, late 50-ish woman.

    My Ex decided to say, “Well, my son only pulled out enough of his to win!”

    I couldn’t help it. I turned to him and said, “You DIDN’T just make a dick joke to the kindergarten teacher! Please, tell me you didn’t just do that!”

    I never let him attend a parent-teacher conference again. EVER.

    1. Hahahah — Thanks for sharing, Samara! I am SO glad you said that. It would’ve taken everything I had not to say, “I’m just glad you weren’t there to compete, although it would’ve been good for our son’s self confidence to win a trifecta.”

      1. Oh, snap!

        And I thought WHAT I said was bad. It has, in fact, become one of the extended family’s best loved anecdotes.

        I don’t want to go all TMI here, but the above – um – insinuation was not quite true.

        That’s all I’m saying. Lips sealed on this one. (even THAT sounds dirty now).

        Let me just excuse myself…if I could extract myself from this chair…

  5. HAHAHA! I hate those chairs. But at least I haven’t destroyed a classroom over them. (Conference in two weeks, I think I’ll stand.)

  6. That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a really long time! I have had two kids go through kindergarten. I was exactly the same. I’m a 6ft tall larger woman. Those chairs freak me the hell out. I still have the littlest one yet to start kindy and even though it’s 2 years away I am already dreading it. Perhaps I could take my own camp chair? Is that even appropriate?

    1. I think as long as you don’t bring a camp chair with a built-in beverage holder, then sit down with a soda during the conference, you should be fine 😉

  7. D-oh! How embarrassing! I hate those little chairs. When my son was in kindergarten, I spent a good part of the year dealing with a severly herniated disc in my low back. Having to deal with those little chairs was torture. Thank goodness he’s in fifth grade now with bigger chairs.

  8. I always found those chairs demeaning. A conference should be on a level of acceptance. But in many cases you are on the turf of the teacher and by these chairs you start off below foolish. I do not need a chair to look foolish, I can accomplish that by my own actions.

  9. I always feel a bit apologetic for laughing about your posts that feature your ex-wife, as I really don’t mean to laugh about your troubles…it’s just that you make troubles so damn funny.
    Regardless, I can’t help but wonder: don’t they have regular sized chairs available for these occasions? Or am I being naive for asking that? (I don’t have kids, so I have no ‘script’ of any kind as to what to do on a parent teacher conference…although thanks to you I now know what not to do at least:P)

      1. I’m sorry…the irony is that about eight years ago I graduated as a psychologist (though I didn’t like listening to people’s problems for eight hours a day, so I doubt I would have been of much help)

        1. Believe it or not, I pegged you for a psychologist. I think it was all the snoring during some of my longer comments when I was revealing my most vulnerable… Hey, WAKE UP!

  10. We had chairs without arms, so no issue getting stuck.
    Although that meant that larger butts had to perch on one cheek.
    I felt sorry for the teachers, they had a whole evening of perching…

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