This week, the journey began. We’re officially in the schooling years.
And it’s bringing a whole new world of pain. Here are a few things that are making this transition harder than we expected.
1. How on Earth can a kindergartner need THIS MUCH stuff??
Over the summer, E’s school sent out its required school supplies list. The list had 21 items on it (well, more than 40 if you start adding up the 10 glue sticks, 2 boxes of tissues, 2 packs of crayons, etc). When we saw the size of the list and some of the specifics (i.e. Pink Bevel Erasers, latex free, naturally) we knew there was no way we could wait until tax-free weekend or later. So we had the great idea to go a few days before tax-free started. Actually, it was an amazing idea. The Office Depot we went to was fully stocked and organized and best of all — empty. And even though our supplies list tally came to (gulp) $100, we only paid about $6 in tax. Best $6 I’ve ever spent.
Of course, we weren’t counting on the whole new “wish list” of supplies we got from her teacher on the first day of school. My time at Office Depot is over for the year, so the teacher is getting a Target gift card to go pick out what she wants instead. I’d suggest a cute shirt from the new Feed collection, but that would probably be wrong. Fine. Make it Mossimo.
Then, there were the uniforms. I’m THRILLED E’s school requires uniforms. I’m not so thrilled that all tops and bottoms, including shirts, skorts, shorts, pants and sweatshirts, have to come from one specific uniform store. That day was not a fun day. For starters, there are specific skort, short and pant rules for the different grades. In other words, you can’t just pick the shorts or skort style that fits your child best. Grades K-6 use one style, 6-12 another, etc. That worked out OK for the skorts and skirts, but the pants are a disaster on my long-legged, tiny-waisted daughter (she’s built exactly like me … in my dreams). The pants don’t have the adjustable waistband so we went with a smaller size for the waist. We only bought one pair and I’m hoping we can just put heavy tights with her skort this winter. Thank God for Florida winters.
Finally, after at least an hour of trying on and figuring out our options, it was time to check out.
Poor girl got her first idea that day that her Miss Matched knee-sock, silver sparkle shoes days were ending. “Mommy, do I have to wear a uniform EVERY day?” Yes, darling. Sorry.
Her father also got his first taste of back-to-school clothes shopping. He was not mentally and emotionally prepared for the total cost of six complete outfits, a pair of pants and a sweatshirt — and the coordinating headband I had to throw in. I kept trying to tell him that for a girl, we’re getting off easy, but I’m not sure he’s buying it. He will eventually.
However, we’re both, philosophically, fully on Team Uniforms. E and I have been butting heads over clothing choices since she was 2. Mornings have been a nightmare. She has a pretty wide berth in what she can wear, but she loves to push those limits — picking summer tanks and shorts in the middle of February, corduroys in July, size 3T skirts when she’s clearly a 5T, just to name a few.
So uniforms are a very, very good thing.
We also had to pick up some solid color, non-flashy shoes, a new backpack and a lunchbox. Have I mentioned she’s only 5? Geez.
But we were done with all of that at least three weeks before school started and feeling good. Until …
2. What’s with this summer project BS? For an incoming kindergartener??
In early June, we learned E had a summer project — creating an A-Z book, all on one theme. The examples they gave were jungle, ocean, space, etc. All of those things seemed a little limiting to us (what the heck would we do for X for space?). So, since we were about to leave on our DC/PA trip, we came up with the idea to make her theme “Things I Saw and Did This Summer.”
I know, we’re kind of geniuses.
We were feeling cocky when we started printing pictures out in late July and started having her glue them down and write the letters/words.
3. Ever want to experience an 8-hour panic attack? Send your baby to kindergarten.
Monday was the big day — the first day of school. We all eagerly woke up early, got ready and were out the door with enough time for Mommy to take 1,000 pictures.
You can just feel the tug of war going on in this picture — me desperately holding on and her rearing to go. Slow down, my wild pony.
When we arrived at school, she jumped out and marched right into her classroom. Like a boss.
Why, yes, she did pick out a Star Wars water bottle for the year. That’s my girl.
We could tell she was a little bit nervous, mostly because she was quieter than usual, but she was excited and even game for some more pictures.
How cute is that set-up. Her teacher is clearly a Pinterest-addict, and that’s a very good thing. The room is adorable.
Eventually we realized it was getting close to the awkward “can you two get the hell out of here?” point. Even E was settled in her seat and ready for us to go. We waved good-bye, walked to our car and completely broke down. And it wasn’t just me. I actually was holding it together until I saw my husband start to tear up.
Then it hit us — she really is a big kid now. It was the proudest/most terrifying moment of my life.
All day long, the two of us were in what can only be described as a state. We were both anxious, worried and nervous as all hell. Was she OK? Was she making friends? Was she scared? Was she safe?
I realized this may be the last time until college where she goes somewhere without knowing a single other soul. What a lonely and scary feeling that must be for a 5-year-old. We all just felt so warm and comfortable at our old school. Starting over is scary.
I happened to be a work conference that day with two women who have children either long graduated from college or in high school and they both assured me I wasn’t crazy. They both described how terrifying that day was for them, too, and how vivid those feelings still felt all these years later.
That made me feel a little better.
Finally, at 4:30, DadJovi couldn’t take it any longer (we pay for aftercare until 6) so he went to pick her up. Her first response to him? “Daddy, can I stay longer?”
Well, OK, then. We should have known she’d love it. And she does.
After more than four years in daycare, we both thought we were emotionally prepared for her to start kindergarten. After all, we’ve been away for her for 8-9 hours a day for years. But there’s just something so different about elementary school. I can think of no other word other than scary.
4. Here’s another word: exhausting.
This week is kicking our butts. The earliest we could drop E off at her old school was 8:30, so typically I’d wake her up (yes, I have to wake her up every day) at about 7:50. For kindergarten, we have to leave no later than 7:55. And my child? Bless her heart. She takes after me and just is not a morning person.
It’s been rough, especially when a certain five-year-old and a certain annoying cat decide they both need to sleep ON TOP OF Mommy beginning at 3:30 a.m.
Packing lunches is nothing new but packing snacks is a new wrinkle. Now I have to pack her a morning snack and smuggle in an after-care snack into her backpack. I find my days are consumed worrying about her snacking. I have issues.
Plus, tonight, we got our first taste of homework. She didn’t send any home (and assured us homework will be rare) but we did get a sheet explaining how we’re supposed to change the way we read to E at night by incorporating certain exercises (ask her to summarize plot points, talk about authors and illustrators’ jobs, relate stories to our lives, etc), then log these items into an agenda. I miss just reading already.
But we’re surviving, one day at a time.
Were you a wreck on your kids’ first day of kindergarten or is that just us? Do you remember your own first day? I don’t but I do remember my first day of first grade, probably because it was at a new school.