We did it! We made it through his first year of school with minimal bruising and no broken bones. And now we get to celebrate with summer vacation… wait, what?
I was a school mom for the first time and survived being on someone else’s schedule. It’s been a decade (yikes) since I graduated from college, and I’ve been blissfully out of the loop for school schedules until now. We survived the change-of-routine meltdowns and moodiness, including the car ride home silence that foreshadowed his Jr. High years. We survived transitioning from naps to no naps. And we survived the early mornings, just barely. As a family with unconventional schedules (chef and doula), early morning schedules are not something we’re very used to.
I naively had hoped for leisurely mornings and maybe an occasional nice breakfast as a family. Instead the day often started by dragging a tired four-year-old from bed before he was ready. They tell you not to wake a sleeping baby. This is still true as your baby gets older. It probably would’ve been easier to arrange for him to ride on the bus, but for some reason we just weren’t ready for that big kid step yet. Plus we would’ve needed to be ready sooner. We often woke him up a little late, because we know sleep is precious and important to his overall functioning. Then we experienced an ugly rush to get out of the house.
I would try to rouse him as I peeled off his pajamas to replace with the clothes we chose the night before. We’d skip combing hair (what’s the point?), grab his backpack and a granola bar, and herd him to the car. That wasn’t daily, but those are the mornings that are cemented into my memory. Somehow our family of night owls made it work. We were often the late ones, and I came to terms with that by the end of the first month.
Picking up from school wasn’t necessarily any better. Three hours of time to myself isn’t as much time as it sounds when trying to do errands, have meetings, or complete a project. And sometimes you just need to sit quietly with a cup of tea for a bit. Even on days where I was four minutes early, I was sometimes still the last one to pick up my kid. Within the first month of school I got stuck in town after trying to squeeze in a meeting. I was five minutes late, rushing to get there and feeling guilty when the school called to see if I was coming to get him. I reminded myself it can happen to the best of moms, but I still fear it will be the sad beginning to his memoirs.
I’ve learned that you will forget things even if you intend on being a super-school-mom. I forgot snacks once or twice. I don’t mean I sent them on the 2nd when they were due the 1st (which I also did). I mean while grocery shopping on the 16th I asked myself, “Wait, what day is this? Is this February or March? Did I send snacks?” And after baking a double batch of allergen-free cupcakes for his Christmas party, I remembered I couldn’t serve homemade treats. Rookie school mom mistake, but at least we enjoyed the delicious error at home. I also survived “last minute Christmas party game planning,” (thank you, Pinterest.)
We forgot to put his Friday folder in his bag a few Monday mornings. I would only notice this mistake when they sent home a pile of papers and no folder the next Friday. I realized we’re “those people” who can’t remember a simple folder. But you know what? Kids bring home a lot of papers when they go to school. A lot. It gets lost in a sea of paper clutter on the catch-all counter in our house. (I can say this because I know you have one, too.) I also forgot a library book at the beginning of the school year. Luckily I remembered to bring it when I picked him up. I felt guilty. I promise, that fades a bit as the school year goes on.
We did not experience snow days this year, but we learned the hard way about checking for cancellations. One foggy morning last fall my husband took our son to school. I heard him come home with child in tow. He said when he arrived it was like a ghost town. Apparently there was a two-hour delay, which meant no preschool. Tip: Sign up for school-closing alerts!
I even survived the start of homework assignments. We learned about making time for studying. While it doesn’t hold a candle to what the older years will bring, practicing for speech therapy has been important for us. We practice randomly, as moments come up in life. I can tell when he wants to sit down and really work hard on it. He’s focused and excited. When he hits the threshold of goofy and distracted, we save the rest for another day.
Ok, to be fair, my son survived it, too. He made it through the hand-washing, name-spelling, and arts and crafts. He made it through lining up for recess, picking his own books out at the library, and end of day pick-up. He had snacks, stories, circle time, and even rode the big yellow school bus for field trips. He learned about letters, transportation, camping, bugs, dinosaurs, and outer space. Most notably, he survived transitioning from Jake & the Never Land Pirates to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a whirlwind of a year.
We made it through preschool, and now we have a couple months of “rest” to gear up for Kindergarten. I wonder what we’ll survive next year…