Google Something Clever 2.0: Thoughts on My Son's First Day of Kindergarten

Aug 29, 2014

Thoughts on My Son's First Day of Kindergarten

Well, I made it. I sent my baby into the world on his own for six hours, which is a completely normal thing that every (non-homeschooling) parent does, but to me, it seemed insane.

How is this kid, who still needs to be reminded to use the bathroom and drink water and not fling himself into the furniture, old enough to be in a classroom with 22 other kids, with only two adults to look after them? This kid who only just graduated from a convertible seat to a booster? Who started the year still sitting in the shopping cart? How is he big enough for school??

But he is. The calendar says it, the state says it, and honestly, I don't think I could handle another year of All Mom All the Time.

I love him, but most days I am very happy to see the clock turn to 8pm. You know what I mean.

But still.


On Monday, we went to an open house at the school that was a tremendous shit show. Not enough parking, hundreds of adults using their outside voices when the principal was trying to talk... I'm sure all you veteran parents are smiling and nodding right now. But we met my son's teacher, who instantly memorized everyone's name and face, and could not go more than ten feet down a hallway without a former student running up to give her a hug. I like her.

Tuesday, we had orientation, which consisted of 23 five-year-olds playing on a rug with the teacher's aide while the parents sat in those tiny foot-high chairs, filling out paperwork and listening to the teacher explain the ins and outs of lunch and snacks, and why you should pack an emergency change of clothes in your child's backpack. I was almost close enough to touch her, and I could only hear half of what she was saying. And the blame didn't lie solely with the kids.

Tuesday night, I packed my very first overachieving Pinterest-ready lunch, which consisted of: a peanut butter and jam sandwich cut to resemble the Death Star and an X-Wing fighter (get the cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma, if you're so inclined), cut up strawberries, pretzels, a granola bar, butterfly-shaped crackers with sliced cheddar cut into the letters of his first name, a chocolate chip cookie which I'd made from scratch that afternoon, and a slip of paper with a pirate joke printed on it (so he can make friends by virtue of being "that kids who tells jokes").  I'm ridiculous, I know. Now taking bets on how long I keep this up.

Yes, yes, that does say "Batman." Don't ask.


Wednesday morning, on the way out the door, I receive an encouraging text message from one of my veteran mom friends. My husband and I drive the boy to school together (you didn't think I'd let him take the bus, did you?). On the walk back to the car, I realize he didn't use the bathroom before we left the house. Fuuuuuuuck. My husband drives me back home and goes to work.

I walk into an empty house.

It's important to note that since I stopped working outside the home about three and a half years ago, I've been home with my son all day, every day. I think I've spent about twelve hours in an empty house since he was born.

I have no idea what to do with myself.

For the first twenty minutes, I sit in silence at the dining room table (just inside the front door), willing myself not to cry. I did okay. Then I feed the cats, because the boy isn't there to do it.

I transfer the laundry I'd started that morning. Restart the dishwasher, which is finicky, and sometimes quits halfway through a wash. Scoop the litter boxes before they really need it, for the first time in ten years.

I sit on the couch and get caught up on all of my emails and other notifications. I'm hot. I decide to take off my pants, because WHY THE HELL NOT. Two minutes later, I realize that if the school calls with an emergency, I'll waste precious minutes putting pants on. Put on shorts.

I decide to read every single thing on xoJane and comment a lot. Every time I let my mind wander, I start to worry about the boy and I get butterflies in my stomach. So I just kept reading. I find myself recounting my birth story in the comments of a c-section article, and I get all sad again. That was dumb.

I notice the dishwasher has stopped. I start it again. Thanks for keeping my busy, you piece of shit.

I go outside to pull up an errant dandelion I'd noticed in the yard that morning. Tidied up the yard a bit.

My husband calls to check on me, and suggests that I eat lunch. I look at the clock. It's 12:30, and I normally eat around 11:00. "How did you know I forgot to eat lunch?" I ask him. "Because you don't have a five-year-old to feed today," he answers. Good point. I force down a sandwich. It keeps the butterflies still for a while.

I then began to tackle the pile of crap in the corner of our living room that's been waiting patiently to be taken down to the basement for mumble weeks. In that pile, of course, were the sippy cups and baby bowls I'd just finally bagged up, after keeping them in the kitchen cabinet for years "in case we have a guest who needs them."

My sister texts me to see how I'm doing, and recommends that I take advantage of this newfound "me time." "When was the last time you had time for a bubble bath?" she writes. Hmm. Not since Mothers' Day, actually. But what if I'm in the bath and the school calls with an emergency and I lose precious minutes because I had to dry off and get dressed and no freakin' way am I doing that.

The laundry's done. It occurs to me that I can watch whatever I want on TV! I could watch one of my dead-hooker cop shows; ain't nobody gonna walk in! But then I realize that I have 150 episodes of The Simpsons spread across two DVRs (you really need to get FiOS Quantum, guys), so I tackle an episode while I fold. I am really relating to Marge on a whole new level now.

Decide to ball up the socks, since the boy's not here to do it. Decide to put them away for him, too, because he's had a long day, and the last thing he needs when he gets home is a mountain of socks to deal with.

I've been watching the clock all day. I have ten minutes to go before it's time to pick him up. I can do this.

On my way out the door, I get two emails that would have been a great distraction ten minutes ago. Damn it.

I show up at the school fifteen minutes early, and get the second-to-last parking spot. There are four-ish families waiting by the designated kindergarten pickup doors. I stand on the opposite side of the doors, in the shade, because it's 96 degrees and sunny, and I didn't put on sunblock today. I answer my emails.

I look up, and there's a line of twenty people across from me. WHAT. I ask the parents across from me if I'm supposed to be in line. They tell me yes. Thanks a lot, ladies. I get to the end of the line, and there's a couple standing maybe fifteen feet from the end. I ask them if they're in line, and they say they're not sure if they're supposed to be. I tell them what I just learned, and they're annoyed, because they've been sitting in their car for fifteen minutes, and they could have been first, had they known. I empathize.

We all agree that they should expand the parking lot. Nobody needs a field that big.

We begin hearing announcements from the principal instructing certain children to go to certain places, depending on their grade level and mode of transportation. It's very complicated. Ten minutes later, they open the doors and begin greeting the parents one by one. The children are lined up in the hallway. The procedure works like so: when it's your turn, you wait for the teacher at the door to acknowledge you. You state your child's name. The teacher then calls out said name, and you are presented with your child. I feel like I'm ordering soup on an episode of Seinfeld.

When I'm about seventh in line, I see my son peeking through the glass door. I wave frantically and smile the smile of someone who is internally panicking, but wants to make it seem like they're totally holding it together. He waves like a normal person, does not smile, nor frown.

"Gah, I can see him right there! It's like, just give me my kid, right?" I say to my new friends. They smile politely. They are sick of me.

My turn finally arrives. I am given my kid. He's wearing the same clothes he was that morning, which means that he didn't have an accident! I tell him I was worried, because we forgot to use the bathroom before leaving the house that morning, and he tells me that he did have to pee, but he held it. All day. For six hours.

I take him out for frozen yogurt (we visit the restroom before purchasing), and proceed to grill him for the next two hours about every single detail of his day. He built a Lego boat. He made a friend. He did not eat the granola bar, and he didn't even notice the cookie or the name-cheese. He had fun.

I think we're going to be okay.

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