We’re a week into transitional kindergarten. Now that my sweet family has endured my overcaffeinated-drill-sergeant-8:05AM-self, I feel the need to calmly ask every mother who has gone before me…WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME ABOUT ALL THE THINGS?! Why are we not collectively freaking out about the madness of elementary? I just stepped into a whole new world of daily school drop-off and pick-up and it is NOTHING like I expected. I need to unpack this. Please help me.
Friends whose tiny ones have not yet begun the daily school routine, I want to warn you about a few things that come along with your oldest child beginning real school. It’s not like preschool, where attendance is optional and you can excuse your tardiness with, “Supes long line in Starbucks drive-thru!” …Ok, so after I typed that out I just realized that was actually never an acceptable reason for tardiness. Sorry about that, Ms. Kathy and Ms. Tammy. Thanks for not expelling Selah.
Thing #1: You will cry.
I used to stare blankly at the weepy-mom facebook posts about little Junior starting school. “Let me get this straight,” I thought. “You’ve been wiping Junior’s bottom every few hours for his entire life and now you get a break for three measly hours and you’re going to cry about it? Just…No.” I prematurely decided that upon Selah starting school, I would excitedly cheers my insulated coffee mug with the other moms’ to collectively celebrate a job well done: one kid is slightly more independent than they were last year. Hear, hear!
And then I dropped my precious baby girl off on her first day. I held the unexpected tears back like a hero, but only until I stepped out of the classroom. Then I ugly cried all the way to my car, and when I looked up to wipe away the mascara-laden waterworks, a speed-walking, sidewalk-staring 10-year old boy nearly ran over me with his rolly backpack. Today I had to jump on the grass to dodge a 5th grade Tony Hawk. It’s a jungle out there, you guys.
Thing #2: The parking situation is worse than Target on a Saturday.
Selah’s school is 1.5 miles from our house. It should take four minutes to get there. But I’d never driven past at 8:10am, when ALL OF THE PEOPLE from ALL OF THE HOUSES come out to look for one of 20 parking spaces. The four-way stop has 30 cars waiting to turn left! I finally turned left but I’m here and there are no parking spaces! I can see her classroom but I cannot GET to her classroom! If I didn’t have to face these people twice a day for the next 8 years I would bust out some of my interpretive driving moves. Once you do finally park (a block away, on the street), you scramble and sweat to unbuckle and wrangle the older two, a backpack and a preciously chunktastic one year old who is too slow and too shoe-less to walk on his own. You run like the dickens with your wild chickens to find a perfectly calm classroom, full of punctual children practicing their letters on individual whiteboards. How did everyone else get here so EARLY? Is there an underground parking lot? Do they teleport? How do all the other parents know all of life’s secrets?!
Thing #3: Three hours is not that long.
So you drop off your oldest on her very first day. You blubber to your husband about how you are certain you brought your sweet baby girl home from the hospital exactly three months ago and now she is in school. You momentarily get a hold of yourself to make a quick trip to the grocery store with your other two wild things. You put your groceries away, do some laundry, the standard morning pick-up of the living room toy massacre, reclothe your boys who are now inexplicably stripped down to their chonies. And boom, it’s 11:15 and you need to go pick up your girl. The time just evaporates into the air.
Thing #4: Grab someone in front of you on this wild parenting ride and beg them to tell you the ins and outs.
In that vein, Mamas and Papas of elementary people: TALK TO ME. I am one week in and I just can’t even. Selah’s teacher is so incredible I cried again at back to school night as she explained every tiny detail of what she does for her students. I am overcome. With joy. With mourning. With pride. With excitement and fear and exhaustion. And we’ve only been in school FOUR DAYS! Help me. Tell me all of the things. What do I need to know!?
Photo credit: Paul-W, Creative Commons