Monday, August 31, 2015

The First Week of Kindergarten: What They Don't Tell You

It has been a week and some things no one told me about this going-to-real-school thing have surfaced. Some are obvious, so not sure why they never occurred to me. Some are so whack, even I am not sure how or why they happen. But I am here to expose the cold hard truth of Kindergarten to all of you. I owe it the world to share my week old knowledge.

1. There is an inability to get up in the morning. A child who has gotten up at 6:15 the majority of her life will have to be woken at 6:30 for school. And be ill about it. You will have to rub backs, whisper in little ears, cajole, and sometimes threaten. And then Saturday will come and there will be a person in your room at 6:30, asking you loudly where the iPad is and what time you are waking up. 

2. It is physically painful for you when they go to school.  I have walked her in. I have waited in the car and watched her walk in with Daddy. I have stayed at home while Daddy takes her. Doesn't seem to matter how she leaves me, it all effects me profoundly. I kiss her goodbye and my heart gets a little wobbly and hurty and I know it is because a part of it is going with my girl to school. 

3. The hour between preschool pick up and elementary school pickup is awesome. There is no time for us to go home and have an actual nap, so The Beast sleeps in his car seat. And I read in a quiet car with a huge smile on my face. It is glorious, a secret hour of untapped potential. And so far it is my most favorite thing about having a Kindergartner. (Except for the part where they keep her there for 7ish hours for free.)

4. Her days are totally out of my control. She walks out the door and I don't see her again until she walks back out at pick up. The day is so long and so short--like a mothering time zone. She has left the Love Bubble of preschool and is part of the system. I don't know all the kids and their parents. I don't know who is nice and who is mean. I don't know her teacher, just what other parents have told me. I feel so removed from the situation. It is an odd helpless feeling. However, I don't feel panicked. I don't feel like she isn't ready. I don't worry that she can't handle it. I know she is where she is supposed to be. It is just overwhelming to know that she is making her way in the world and she doesn't always need me to do it.

4. Sometimes your kid is the one that freaks out. The first day
First Day: "Mom, pretend I am doing homework."
Today: I don't waaaannnnttt to do my homework.
she cried and bawled and turned into one of those little stuffed monkeys 
with magnets in its paws you buy places like Myrtle Beach.  The ones that hang on things that have no business having a purple fuzzy monkey hanging on them. My girl was the monkey and I was the gear shift in a 1992 Geo Tracker. The rest of the kids sat there and stared at our family circus but she did not care. Not only did she not care, she embraced it. Clearly she was the only one that understood that this was an abandonment situation. They all just sat there, coloring like a bunch of sheep, and she was outraged. She accused of us lying to her about Kindergarten, she begged us not to leave, she almost hyperventilated. Our kid was the only one freaking her freak. We left her sitting there snuffling and out of sorts and we had no idea how she was doing for what felt like 35 hours. And the most shocking part? She survived without me staring at her from the hall. Without me making sure she was taking deep breathes. Without me at all. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? 

5. Kindergarten is the most tiring thing of life. Apparently staying out of other people's bubbles and tracing letters is incredibly exhausting. We are talking next level tired. You know the girl in college who took Adderall to pull all-nighters and write papers and then passed out in her car? Like that. But the 5 year old version that cries when you ask them to put their shoes on. We have moved bedtime twice since school started. I am now pondering just bringing her home and putting her straight to bed. Let's cut the pain and suffering for all parties. 

6. Kindergartners have their own specific brand of crazy. Kindergartners turn into child Gremlins after 4pm. No control over their emotions. Screaming. Crying. Total inability to process normal information without an intense emotional reaction. In the last seven days I have learned that a Kindergartner has an extremely short fuse. You must not ask too many questions, give too many directions, speak too loud, speak too soft, give too many snack options, give the wrong snack options, or limit snack options. Most importantly never, NEVER, interrupt them when they are talking. It is a one-way ticket to pain and suffering. Have you ever been berated by a 5 year old who feels like they are not being heard? Avoid it unless you enjoy feeling like a monster with the inability to listen attentively. Take it from me, it is impossible to slow the wave of crazy, so just put your helmet on and dodge the grenades they are tossing. I have done more counting to three in the last week than I did the whole month of June. 

We are now on week 2 of Kindergarten and there is zero change in attitude, exhaustion levels, or ability to function like a normal person after 4pm. I hear "my life is soooo hard today" at some point every day. Parents of PreK kids, start mentally preparing. You are going to need to tap into your inner parenting reserves. Big school ain't no joke. And neither is parenting an Emo-Gremlin that is hungry and ready to abuse you for the slightest infraction. You have been warned.


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