Three weeks ago, the kids started kindergarten. The Big K. Grade 0. Initiated into the great machinery that is public education.
And I was ready.
I had stuff labelled. I had backpacks and lunchboxes ready to go. We had a system. We have not been late (miraculously, though we did forget a backpack one day which had to be delivered later).
And then that first day one of the kids started saying as we found nametags and desks and parents got ready to leave:
“I want to go home.”
Over and over.
And then the tears. “I want to go home.”
I had to wrangle my hand out of that little hand, put it in a teacher’s hand, request the other two siblings to offer hugs, and walk away.
To cry in the hallway.
We thought we were ready.
But the next time I dropped them off, and the same kid was upset, I asked the siblings to all hold hands as they went through the front door and down the hallway.
Having multiples is so hard in so many ways, yet I am incredibly grateful that they have each other.
Other things we’ve learned from being Kindergarten parents:
- Despite our best attempts at planning ahead, we’ve already had the morning scramble of “fill in reading logs (x3), stuff folders in backpacks, get water bottles filled and packed…”
- Another morning in that first week, our Very-Much-Not-a-Morning-Person child whimpered, “I don’t like waking up. I want to sleep in.” “Me too, kiddo,” I said. “Is it a school day?” “Yep.” “I don’t like having them in a row.” Me neither.
- We have lost so many items I can’t even keep track. By Friday, I’m usually walking out of school with three backpacks, four coats or sweatshirts, an extra hat, and loose papers. And three kids. We haven’t lost any of those yet.
- So many questions and unknowns: Do we have them take the bus? Will our current after school childcare situation continue to work? How early do I have to leave work on Fridays to pick them up? Do I have enough energy to volunteer for PTA stuff? Why did they schedule the new-parent-orientation-to-PTA two nights before Kindergarten Curriculum Night?
- It’s exhausting. It feels like being shot out of a cannon on Sunday night and finally landing on Friday evening. Every weeknight, I’m optimistic that this will be the night that I get to do what I want to: respond to friends’ e-mails, grade a bit, organize some toys, write a blog post. Every night something else comes up: picture day forms, curriculum night (mine and theirs), permission slips, etc. etc. etc.
- By Wednesday or Thursday, Alan and I are staring bleakly at each other: “Do our children really need to eat lunch every day?”
- We put little notes in their lunchboxes on the first day. My mom had always done that for us, and I loved getting them in my lunch bag. The little notes have not made a reappearance (see prior two bullets).
- The kids are so tired and crabby, and yet often will not fall asleep when I think they should. This results in much frustration and some wine consumption.
- We also started a new session of swim lessons on Wednesdays. This may have been a mistake. At the first swim lesson, one child REFUSED (literally kicking and screaming) to get in the water, even though all my kids love the water. I had so much built-up stress around anticipating how badly the second lesson would go that when it did go well, I felt less relief and more annoyance that I had been so stressed in the first place.
- The administration and office staff are lovely and gracious and deserve medals for Untold Amounts of Patience.
- I was afraid to contact the teacher because although one kid had said nothing but versions of “I don’t like school” every day for a week and a half, I didn’t want to be That Parent. As a teacher, I’ve seriously disliked my students’ parents who come to me with the cheery “Oh, I’m a teacher too” and then make completely unreasonable demands of me. After talking with two teacher friends about it, both of them said, “Be That Parent.” I e-mailed the kids’ teacher, and her response knocked my socks off. I had anticipated a good year from our earlier meetings with her, but I think she and the other teachers who team with her are nothing short of phenomenal, which comforts my mama heart.
Some days it feels manageable. The days when I pick them up, and they play or we read together in the garden outside the cafeteria, and I can check off their reading logs before we even get home. The days when we head to a park for bike riding in the sunshine, or stop for ice cream on the way home. The days when they give us glimpses into their school world, like telling us about their friends at recess or the stories they heard from the Listening Rug or what they did at Choice Time.
Exhausting and overwhelming as they are, these days are also really, really good days.