Sunday, August 26, 2012

So My Kid's in Kindergarten Now

I've been warned for quite some time about the parental emotional trauma known as The First Day of Kindergarten.  I know there are schools that specifically recruit parents of older children to volunteer to console new kindergarten parents on the first day of school.  Our own school hosts the "Boo-Hoo Breakfast" for parents on the first day of kindergarten.  They pass out Kleenex. 

The message for parents about the first day of kindergarten has always been clear and simple: You are going to cry.  

I think what makes kindergarten so traumatic for parents is that you're battling a transition on two fronts: your challenges as a parent and the challenges you feel on behalf of your child. 

As a parent, my biggest challenge is having to see myself in a whole new category: The School-Aged Parent.  Being a School-Aged Parent seems to carry with it a greater expectation that you have some idea of what you're doing here.  I mean sure, we were all just newbies back in the baby and toddler years, young parents just testing the waters.  But now, now we are honest-to-goodness, full-fledged parents.  I mean, I remember when my own parents were School-Aged Parents, and they seemed like they knew what they were doing.  I guess it's time I buck up and figure out what I'm doing, too. 

And on top of having to accept my new change in status, I had to deal with the fear I felt on behalf of my child.  It's a fairly well-established fact that parents often grossly overestimate the emotional trauma their children are experiencing.  I was so terrified for my kid to get on a bus and find his way in a whole new place with a whole new level of seriousness.  And I think he was a little bit nervous, but for the most part a child's limited worldview protects him or her from truly grasping the magnitude of a situation. 

I, on the other hand, spent the whole month of August feeling like I had a horrifying Date With Destiny looming right on the horizon.  It didn't help that my kid seemed to be the only kid on the planet who wasn't giddily excited for kindergarten.  Nathan tends to be like Larry David: He curbs his enthusiasm.  

So I felt like I had to rally him and give him a daily talk about how long it was until kindergarten, and what would happen at kindergarten, and how you are supposed to behave at kindergarten, and OMG yay rah rah kindergarten!

It was exhausting. 

I spent about a month agonizing over every detail.  He had to have two completely new outfits, down to socks and underwear: one for Meet the Teacher Day and one for the actual first day.  I bought all the school supplies on the list a month in advance.  I carefully organized all my forms on a clipboard.  We did recon to stake out the bus stop location.  We worked for three weeks to establish a new school sleeping schedule and new school morning routines. 

Finally the day I referred to as Kindergarten Day Zero came.  That was the first day of school for the older kids, but for kindergarten it just meant you came with your parents for a special assigned hour of orientation.  I agonized over my own personal appearance that day, as though the teacher would think something like, Wow, that Nathan sure has a promising academic future.  I know because his mom matched her earrings to her sweater so well. 

The orientation was a bit chaotic.  But totally fine.  And also over within an hour, so I had to spend the rest of the day dealing with a kid who couldn't process the feelings brought on by this transition, and thus more or less acted like a moody teenage girl. 

[Here is where you might see some pictures of Nathan in his classroom on Kindergarten Day Zero, if I could find the camera I took them on.]

The next day, Friday, was Kindergarten Day One.  That was the day Nathan would go by himself.  We followed the school's advice to have him start out taking the bus to school from the very beginning, because the beginning is when there are special helpers on the bus to help kids know what to do. 

So our whole family headed out at 7:00 a.m. to wait for the bus.  Nathan was a bit keyed up, so these are the closest I could get to the classic First Day of School photo:

Bill wanted the actual embarkation of the bus to be captured in video form, so if you really want to see what a kid getting on a school bus looks like, you can watch this video.  Of particular note is that the bus sat there forever before leaving, so I had to stand there and endure the brutal long moments of watching my baby stare at me through a bus window. 

So he went to school.  And I set about my day.  I'm sure that I will spend every day for the rest of Nathan's academic career complaining about how quickly the day passes, but that first day really dragged.  I was just terrified that he'd come home with a report of bad behavior, the way he had on his first day of preschool.  I just kept thinking, I don't care if you get in trouble somewhere down the line, just please don't get in trouble on the very first day. 

Eventually the day passed.  The bus came back with Nathan.  Good report! 

Not only that, but he exclaimed, I wish I could be in kindergarten forever!  That sort of gushing means a lot coming from Nathan.  

Of course, I was sort of like, well, shoot, you're all rarin' to go, and now it's the weekend. 

But this weekend I also found myself relaxing for the first time in weeks.  The first day of kindergarten is behind us.  And yes, we have about a million more days of school to get through. 

But I survived the first day of kindergarten. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

There Comes a Time in Every Blogger's Life When She Writes a Post Like This

The blogger begins by apologizing for her extended online absence.  She then immediately qualifies this apology with a comment about how she would never be so presumptuous to assume that anybody noticed and/or cared about her absence.  But, she says, she has been absent nonetheless. 

Next she explains the reasons for her lack of recent blogging.  She has been busy with work, family, and all the usual trappings of modern life.  At the end of the day, there just wasn't time for blogging. 

Often in the ensuing paragraph(s), the blogger begins to question the motives behind her blogging.  Is she doing it for herself?  For her family?  To make money?  Sometimes she notes that she started the blog for one reason, but ended up writing it for completely different reasons.  Perhaps she feels she has gone astray.  Words like branding and social media are bandied about, along with a commentary on the modern state of the blogosphere and a call for blogging to get back to its roots. 

At the end of the post, the blogger often makes a definitive promise about the future of her own blogging.  She decides to fish or cut bait, as it were.  Deciding to quit the blog always comes out sounding way too dramatic and ominous, especially if the decision is explained with some cryptic comment about how there are some things going on in my life that I don't think I want on the Internet. 

If she decides to keep going, she makes a promise to blog more often.  She usually then attempts to quickly catch everybody up, in the course of one post or several, on everything that has happened since her last post.  For some reason, it kills a blogger to leave gaps in her coherent narrative, because bloggers feel some need to post all the news that's fit to print on the Internet. 

The post often concludes with a thank you to readers for hanging in there, or for being supportive, or for leaving such thoughtful comments.  The final phrase of the post is usually something jaunty like Stay tuned! 

And that is how a blogger explains her absence.


As for me personally, I do not have any major life issues at hand, cryptic-sounding or otherwise.  I have just been busy with the usual daily activities, namely paid work and mundane chores.  I am neither going to fish nor cut bait.  By which I mean, I am not going to make a futile attempt to catch you up on everything that went on in my life since the last post, mostly because it's not that interesting.  But I'm also not going to quit writing this blog.  I know my motives for writing this blog.  It's a hobby, and a very cathartic one.  I like to entertain and inform.  I like your comments.  So, that's the state of my own personal blogosphere.  Stay tuned!