For all those parents preparing to send your children off to kindergarten – and my preschool mom friends who are a year or two away – I thought I’d share something I learned while experiencing the rite of passage with my oldest son last week. Starting kindergarten as a parent is a little like going through it as a kid!
The back-to-school shopping is fun. Setting out the first-day outfit is a must. You can’t sleep the night before either. Wade’s teachers mailed him a poem and packet of “jitter glitter” to sprinkle under his pillow the night before school started to help him sleep. Wade was kind enough to sprinkle a little under my pillow too!
We were both a little nervous about making new friends, and I think we both benefitted from a classroom meet-and-greet with the teachers and a few-at-a-time other students and parents the day before. On the ride home, Wade declared himself not only “not scared,” about starting kindergarten the next day, but “double not scared.”
Neither of us cried the morning of the first day – not that we’re admitting to anyway. I saw Wade wipe his eyes as I peeked through the classroom window to watch him settle into his new desk. But I’m pretty sure that was to rub out the sleepiness from tossing and turning the night before.
As for me, just as I was about to burst into the ugly cry while walking back to the parking lot, I got a call from my buddy mom – a seasoned mom of a kindergartener and an older child at the school – to ask me how drop-off went. I’m not sure what kind of volunteer parent training they had going on, but this mom was racking up serious extra credit. Talk about going above and beyond! I think it means I already have a friend.
I might or might not have gone ahead and had a little flurry of tears on the way to Starbucks, anyway, but they hardly counted. I was feeling nostalgic, but excited too. We were on our way!
When I picked Wade up from school that afternoon, he had a big smile on his face as he barreled into the car. He waved and yelled goodbye out the window to some of his new classmates as we pulled off. When I asked him if he made any new friends, he said “everybody in the class is my friend.” I couldn’t have asked to hear anything better.
Wade told me he accidentally ate his lunch for snack. OK, at least he still got the same amount of food; he just had his snack later. (I’d forgotten to eat breakfast!) We both got dessert, stopping for some celebratory ice cream on the way home.
By that night, Wade and I were both exhausted. He was for obvious reasons – plus two recess periods and a PE class (which as a parent of three boys, I am so excited about!) I was tired because we still have twin 3-year-olds at home, in addition to the early wake-up and all the excitement.
Wade and I were also both overstimulated. Just when I thought he would nose-dive into his pillow by 7 p.m. that night, he was still coming out of his room, stalling, nearly an hour later.
About the time he finally fell asleep, I had the dishes half-done, his lunch half-packed, the nightly news paused, and about three or four text chains firing with different mom friends and relatives, catching up on the first day.
I knew I was one of the lucky moms, to be exhausted but happy, having had the day go so smoothly. I knew better than to take it for granted after hearing about one child who threw up the morning of the first day out of nerves, and another who pitched toddler-worthy tantrums after school the first couple of days. (Ours waited until after the third and final day of the first week. By then, we figure it was due!)
As Wade heads into his second week of kindergarten, he and I (smile) are both still learning how to communicate with the teachers, what to pack, and where to go. But we are doing it with some confidence, which is all I could ask for.
One of my favorite memories of the first few days was when I turned the corner in front of the school heading home his second day. Wade said, unprompted, “I love my school.”
I should probably admit that his school is my alma mater too. How lucky for me that Wade and I have that in common now too.